Software, information, and technology jobs have gained momentum for the last two decades. As technology has entered every field, the demand for software developers and tech workers has increased significantly. The lucrative nature of software jobs tempts more and more people. But is it possible to bag a job in the tech world without a degree? The short answer is yes. You do not need a degree for a job as a software professional.
But let us first try to understand what are the roles of a software professional.
What does a software developer do?
A software developer is a professional who creates and designs computer and web applications and systems. A software developer is a subset of software engineering.
Most of the time, these two terms are used interchangeably. The responsibilities and skill sets required are more or less the same. The skills required for a software engineer are more, and they grow once you are a software developer.
Following are some of the tasks that a software developer does:
- Write code and develop software based on the client’s or the organisation’s requirements.
- Test and debug the written code.
- Work on existing code or applications.
- Upgrade and maintain the existing software.
Do you need a degree to be a software engineer?
No, having a degree in computer science or a relevant branch to become a software developer or engineer is not at all mandatory. Anyone can become a software developer if they are ready to learn and dedicate time and effort to learning how to code.
Proving your skills is more important than having a degree in software jobs.
Different types of software engineers
Understanding the different types of software engineering roles helps you determine the learning path you may want to take.
Following are some of the most common software engineer roles
A front-end engineer deals with developing, testing, and fixing any bugs(problems in code) in the software applications’ user interface (UI). They also work on testing and developing the UI code for various browsers and systems.
If you do not have any experience at all in software development, learning the skills of a front-end developer is a good entry point in becoming a software engineer. Following are the skills you need to learn to become a front-end engineer:
A back-end engineer is responsible for developing the core logic of the software application. In easy words, a back-end engineer works on the code and integration of code with databases, servers, or cloud systems behind the scenes.
This is the main functionality of any application or software and decides the smooth functioning of the application. Back-end developers are also responsible for many programming languages used to develop the back-end code.
Learning any one of them is good enough to begin your journey as a developer. Following are some of the most popular languages:
A good working knowledge of back-end technologies is also required. For this, learning SQL and a working knowledge of any database management system is sufficient.
Full Stack Engineer
A full-stack engineer is someone who has the skills of both the front-end engineer and the back-end engineer. They possess the skills required to develop a full-blown working application. However, a thorough knowledge of both front-end skills and back-end skills is required.
Mobile Application Engineer
Mobile application engineers are into developing apps for mobile devices like cell phones and tablets. They work on various operating systems like iOS for Apple phones, Android for Android phones, and Windows devices. Some languages which mobile developers learn are:
- Objective C
The main role of quality assurance (QA) engineers is to identify any flaws or bugs in the developed software or product. This is an important stage as the product needs to be tested before it is launched or sent to the client.
Testing for the software application’s overall integration and functionality helps the developers fix any existing issues. Technologies used by Quality Assurance engineers are:
- Selenium and other testing tools
Security professionals test for any vulnerabilities in the software applications or systems. Their job is to identify any security issues in the system and to fix them. They need to have a hacking mindset to find any flaws in the system.
The skills involved for a security developer are knowledge of programming languages like Python, C, C++, and Java. Along with this, they need to understand operating systems thoroughly. A certification in any cybersecurity course can get you started as a security engineer.
Cloud engineers manage the integration of the organisation’s products and applications on cloud-based systems. The roles and responsibilities involve setting up a cloud architecture, integrating the applications on cloud-based systems, and managing access permissions.
Knowledge of any one of the cloud-based architectures like AWS (Amazon Web Services), Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure is enough to get started as a cloud engineer.
DevOps engineering is a recently developed role. The main responsibility of a DevOps engineer is to ensure the smooth integration and development of software applications by introducing processes and tools to maintain system and library updates.
Knowledge of relevant tools and skills, such as coding, testing, security, and automation, is required to be a DevOps engineer.
A network engineer is responsible for maintaining, setting up, and fixing, the network infrastructure of the organisation’s systems. The skills required by a network engineer are mostly hardware and software skills required to troubleshoot and manage computer networks.
How to Become a Software Engineer Without a Degree
The journey to becoming a software engineer without a degree depends only on your determination and dedication.
The first and foremost thing is to remove any doubts you have about becoming a software engineer. The more time you spend doubting yourself and your skills, the less time you spend on learning the relevant skills.
Now that we have this main part of the way let us dive into the technicalities. There are some ways in which you can become a software developer without a degree.
There are various official certifications like Oracle Certified Associate (OCA), AWS certified cloud practitioner, Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect, and Cisco certified network professional (CCNP) based on your field of interest.
These certifications are valuable, and having one of these can boost your chances of getting a job as a software engineer or developer.
Enrolling in Online Courses
Code Institute teaches full-stack software development to its students through its university credit-rated programme.
Building Additional Skills
Along with technical skills, you will also need some soft skills like good communication, interpersonal skills, and critical thinking and analysis. Make sure you work on these skills as well.
Apart from these, you need to learn some project management methodologies and general software version control tools.
Creating Your Own Project
Once you start learning a technology, develop a small project in it to understand what you have learnt. The developed project will also showcase to your recruiters that you know your technologies well, and your chances of getting hired will significantly boost.
Finally, get involved in groups for software developers. The networking will introduce you to more and more existing software professionals. This can help you in two ways.
One is to help you understand various technological aspects in-depth and the industry-level application of the learnt technologies.
Two, it can help you get a referral if your skills are good. Networking with the right people will also help you get feedback on your learning journey and tweak it accordingly to achieve your end goal.
Applying for Entry-Level Jobs
Finally, build a CV, mention all the skills and certifications you have learnt, and mention any projects you created.
Start sending your CV to software companies and your network. Initially, you might get rejections, but remember that facing a technical interview is a learning process, and eventually, you will get a job.
Having a degree to be a software engineer is no more a necessity. Sure, it can help you get a software engineer or developer job. However, not having a degree does not mean you cannot access the glorious world of software engineering.
A fixed mindset, determination and continuous learning are the major skills which will help your transition to a software job.
What can a software developer earn?