Discover how to become a software engineer without a degree

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 9 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Digitally skilled professionals are typically in high demand. Those with the necessary skills can work in computer science in a range of professions. You can learn how to work as a software engineer by studying and gaining work experience. In this article, we answer, 'what does a software engineer do?', discuss how to become a software engineer without a degree, understand the potential benefits and provide tips you can follow become one.

What does a software engineer do?

Software engineers are highly competent IT specialists who use programming languages to construct a wide range of software applications and networking systems. To assist with product development, they usually work for software engineering organisations, major corporations or production companies.

A four-year bachelor's degree in software engineering, computer systems engineering or computer science can be useful for people who want to work as software engineers. Individuals with an in-depth understanding of programming languages like Python, C++ and Java can also qualify for a software engineering position.

Related: A guide to a software engineer degree (careers and salary)

How to become a software engineer without a degree

Here are some ways to become a software engineer without a degree:

1. Review what you already know about software engineering

Although different engineering specialities cause diverse skill sets, there are some fundamental skills that you may need if you wish to work as an engineer. You may already understand coding skills based on your college classes and research. Keep in mind all you already know about software engineering to figure out where you could begin your studies.

Related: How much does an entry-level software engineer make?

2. Enrol in a software engineering certification course

Although most engineering jobs prefer candidates with engineering degrees, some engineering fields make it easier for those without a degree to become engineers. You can learn more about software engineering by taking professional certification courses, either online or in person. You could also conduct an online search to identify which programs best suit your time, budget and educational requirements.

3. Get a job in IT or tech support to aid your learning

This is leading to more options for you to pursue a career in computing through an apprenticeship to help you increase your computer science skills without a degree. Working as a tech support professional or a sales associate in a technology store are examples of jobs that you could do. When applying for software engineering jobs, these experiences may help you improve your CV.

Related: 6 essential software engineer skills

4. Take additional certification courses for different programming languages

Consider spending time getting certifications in programming languages such as Java or Python because software engineers write in a range of programming languages. You can pursue certificates at the beginner, intermediate and expert levels. These additional certificates may improve your employability as a software engineer without a degree.

Related: How to become a software testing engineer with skills

5. Practice analysing and reading the code of other software engineers

Code reading is a method for understanding and comprehending computer programs. As a software engineer, you learn how to read code strings and refer to code libraries to help with program rewrites. Do this by looking at website coding and observing how software engineers built them using code strings.

6. Complete your projects to enhance your professional portfolio

It's critical to work on your own coding projects to show employers if you're pursuing a software engineering profession without a degree. It helps to show potential employers your background as a software engineer, a collection of your code projects and your previous work experience. These projects can also help you practise and improve your coding skills.

7. Get constructive feedback on your code from industry professionals

If you want to improve your coding skills, ask professionals for their feedback after you've finished a coding project. Do this by looking for a professional connection or hiring a software engineering consultant. If you repeat the same coding errors, ask them to point them out to you so you can improve.

Related: Guide: 10 different software engineer levels (plus duties)

8. Work on your soft engineering skills

To be successful as a software engineer, you may require certain qualities and skills. Even though many of the skills that you can need are computer-related, engineering usually requires you to possess a range of both hard and soft skills. Strive to improve your interpersonal skills, such as teamwork, communication, and leadership skills.

9. Make relationships by joining an online software engineering network

It's critical to have an active professional network because it can assist you in your job search and career advancement. In a degree program, you might meet students who share your interests and may become professional contacts. If you lack a degree and want to work as a software engineer, try making relationships with those who already have software engineering degrees. They may become useful contacts in the future.

Related: How to become a software engineer (plus key skills)

Benefits of becoming a software engineer without a degree

Ways in which you can benefit by becoming a software engineer without a degree include:

  • Reduces educational costs: Some people may find higher education prohibitively expensive. You could save money and avoid debt payments by pursuing work as a software developer without obtaining a college degree.

  • Gives you the freedom to learn at your own pace: Degree programs let students work full or part-time while completing their coursework. Choosing an alternative education path may allow you to study at a speed that allows you to understand industry practices and programming languages thoroughly.

  • Allows you to spend more time honing your professional skills:: You could work in IT roles and get certifications instead of solely participating in full-time classes. When applying for jobs, this may help you establish your professional reputation.

  • Encourages you by allowing you to control your future: For people who love to learn by themselves and have control over their education, pursuing a software engineering career without a degree can be a viable alternative. It may also motivate you to act and work hard to achieve your objectives.

Related: How to become a software development engineer in test: a guide

Tips for starting your software engineering career without a degree

Start your career as a software engineer without a degree by following these tips:

  • Research success stories of well-regarded software engineers: To understand how software engineers attain their work experience and career goals without degrees, conduct online research or contact one or more of these people to ask them for additional information about the subject. This may motivate you and assist you in planning for your schooling.

  • Find a mentor for guidance: Enrolling in a degree program may assist you in having access to a professor or a career advisor. If you want to work as a software engineer without a degree, take the initiative and network with industry professionals you meet on professional social networking sites.

  • Take advantage of software engineering boot camps: Unlike self-study and online courses, where you learn by yourself, coding boot camps provide an immersive, intensive educational experience in which you can learn key programming skills to launch a career as an entry-level developer. Consider joining these programs online or in-person at educational organisations and coding schools to learn the fundamentals of software engineering in a shorter amount of time and for a lower price.

  • Devote a portion of each day to your education: Set aside specific hours to go through industry subjects and coding practices to ensure you keep practising and learning about software engineering. A specific plan of study for each week or month may also be beneficial because it can help keep you on track.

  • Invest in the right technology and programs: Select which technology to invest in and improve your coding skills by reviewing highly rated hardware and programs for software engineers. This can help you buy and use the same tools that software engineers use.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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  • Software Engineering vs Computer Science: The Differences You Need To Know


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