Become a Software Engineer Without a Degree

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Software Engineering is the top job title for 2018, according to the U.S. News & World Report, which compiled a list of the top 100 jobs. Factors like current salary, future job market opportunities, anticipated growth, stress and work-life balance are all assessed before drawing up the rankings table. Not only did Software Engineering come out the best, it was also awarded the ‘best STEM job’ and the ‘best Technology job’ of 2018.

But there is good news: you can become a Software Engineer without a degree. There are strategies you can adopt which will result in your learning the skills required to do the job. Here’s how.

Get Coding

When it comes to getting a job as a Software Engineer, the most important thing is to show what you can do, explains Nick Larsen, a data engineer at Stack Overflow. He says: ‘The reality of getting hired as a developer is that it’s way easier to get hired if you show the company what you have done. A portfolio of projects and products you have made….is worth more than years of experience or schooling.’

The best place to showcase your portfolio is probably GitHub. Although GitHub is frequently used for version control and managing source code in communal software projects, it’s also a great repository for platforming your projects, whether you developed them yourself or communally. You can share your projects with prospective employers, as well as swap ideas and code with other programmers. GitHub accounts are free.

Learn the Skills

The Stack Overflow Developer Survey found that most developers, 69% to be precise, are self-taught. 13% of respondents across the globe are only self-taught, whereas a mere 1,2% have a PhD in computer science (or a related field).

There are a number of options when it comes to learning Software Engineering. These include:

Teach Yourself – you could enroll on a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), which has open access via the web and unlimited participation. Have a look for software engineering MOOCs on these sites: or edX. Here’s a MOOC, begun last year, called Software Engineering Essentials. Another place to start might be CS50x, a free course from Harvard University, which teaches you the basics of algorithms, data-structures, programming languages and computers.

Although MOOCs are free, they don’t suit everyone. Some people don’t like the fact that this method of delivery doesn’t provide personalised attention from mentors. When it comes to coding, you frequently need that. In addition, MOOCs tend to be more introductory in scope. You don’t really dive deeply into the subject matter.

Coding Bootcamps – if it feels overwhelming to teach yourself to code, you could enrol on a coding bootcamp. Online coding bootcamps tend to offer a structured, mentor-guided learning platform that mirror the classroom experience. You’ll probably need to devote between 5 and 30 hour per week to studying software engineering principles, but you can choose when those hours will happen. Also, if you get stuck, you’ll receive personliased mentorship.

Set yourself tests – to become a Software Engineer without a degree you need to check that you’re absorbing the information you’re learning. Sign up for something like HackerRank, which will set you algorithm problems. You will implement your solutions online. You could also try CodinGame, where you learn new concepts by solving fun challenges (related to video games) in more than 25 languages.

Besides tests, you may want to set yourself tutorials. W3Schools is an excellent site to use as a reference for this. It offers tutorials in a wide variety of languages including HTML, CSS, SQL, PHP, etc.

Have an End Goal in Mind

You want to end up as a software engineer, right? But try and be a little clearer with your goal. Do you want to work for an established tech company, a start-up, or as a freelancer? Visualising your endpoint will help you think of ways of getting there, but you need clarity about where you want to end up.

Changing careers is not simple, but the challenges can also be uniquely satisfying and enjoyable.

Become a software developer without a degree today. Try one of our free trials to see if a coding bootcamp is right for you.


See John Sonmez from Simple Programmer speak about becoming a Software Engineer without a degree.

HyperionDev offers a 6-month part-time Online Bootcamp in Software Engineering. Book a free trial now!