If you’re interested in knowing how to become a software developer, the good news is that you don’t necessarily need a college or university degree to enter the workforce in this field. You do, however, need to follow a few steps that can bring you closer to your goal. This article will highlight some of the steps you can take to become a software developer, including courses or certificate programs you can take, or coding bootcamps you can enroll in, that will put you ahead of the curve in this competitive industry.
With today’s ever-changing technological landscape, software development is quickly growing as an industry. There are approximately 26.9 million software developers around the world, and according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for software developers is projected to grow 22% by year 2029.
These statistics indicate a promising future for current and aspiring software developers, and the demand for qualified software developers will continue to rise. Before we jump into some of the steps on how to become a software developer, let’s first understand who a software developer is.
Who is a software developer?
A software developer is primarily responsible for writing the code behind software products, like video games, operating systems, apps, features, robots, etc. They design, build, and test software applications — all while having a solid understanding of various programming languages that turn instructions into something understandable to a computer.
Other responsibilities of a software developer might be to code something from the beginning entirely, or to collaborate with a team of other software developers to improve or debug an existing code. They also work with other professionals like Graphic Designers, Product Managers, Technical Writers, UX Designers, etc. to create the end-product.
As for the average salary of a software developer, they made a median salary of $110,140 in 2020, according to US News: The best-paid 25% of software developers made $140,470 in 2020, and the lowest-paid 25% made $84,020. Generally speaking, those in the field of software development enjoy a rewarding career with higher salaries as they further advance.
10 steps to become a software developer
Now that we’ve established who a software developer is, what their primary responsibilities are, and how much they earn on average, let’s discuss the steps involved with how to become a software developer.
- Establish your goal:
Before you decide to start a career in software development or make a career shift, be sure to have clear goals that will help you strategically get there. Ask yourself questions like, “Do you have the education to pursue this?” If not, how can you add to your academic experience so that you successfully land a career as a software developer?
- Learn programming languages:
If you don’t have a background in Computer Science/IT, consider applying to accredited programs/certificates or coding bootcamps. This is not only required so that you can step foot in the world of software development, but it will help you understand all the ins and outs of the field.
- Keep learning:
Once you have an educational background in the field, don’t stop learning. Supplement your studies by constantly learning about the latest trends in the industry. Websites like CodinGame and CodeWars offer a ton of programming solutions that help software developers refresh their skills.
- Read code by professional software developers:
Another step you can take towards becoming a software developer is to actually read others’ code. Websites like GitHub are a great resource for this. By learning to read code, you’ll eventually be able to understand how a specific program is working.
- Find a professional community of software developers:
As you work towards your goal of becoming a software engineer, it’s important that you surround yourself with professionals who can successfully guide you on where to focus your learning. Websites like Meetup can help you find software developers with whom you can connect with.
- Work on projects:
Once you’re comfortable with a programming language, start building projects that you can include in your portfolio. Not only does it help you improve your skills, but working on different projects will also allow you to network with professionals — which is great as you get to meet potential employers.
- Practice your pre-interview skills:
As you begin to work on projects, build your portfolio, and network with other professionals, it’s time to hone your pre-interview skills. This includes working on a flawless resume and cover letter, along with your online presence.
- Get ready to perfect your interview:
When it’s time to face a potential employer in an interview, prepare well. Practicing will definitely help, so consider having a friend or colleague run a few mock interviews for you beforehand.
- Carefully select from the job offers you got:
You’ll likely receive a couple of job offers once you land interviews, so be sure to select the job that will enhance your career goals.
Things to know before becoming a software developer
Before you choose to get into software development, it’s important that you fully educate yourself about the field, including the different job responsibilities and tasks involved with being a software developer. Generally speaking, a software developer should be a good programmer — one who is well-versed in data structures and algorithms.
In addition, it’s important to know and be fluent in more than one programming language, as well as be familiar with different design approaches.
Moreover, when it comes to software operations, a software developer will be responsible for defining their feasibility through things like problem definition, evaluation, analysis, and solution development. There are many other tasks associated with software development — and you must have the right education to begin with to dive deep in the field.
Where to learn software development
If you decide that software development is for you, but you have no educational background and want to develop your skills and expertise, then consider enrolling in a certificate program, an online course, or even a coding bootcamp to fully immerse yourself in the field. Below are some options you may consider as you work towards your goal:
With courses ranging from Cyber Security Analytics, Data Science, to Software Engineering, Flatiron is a great option for those looking to study coding both on-campus and online.
- Approximate cost: $14,000 to $18,000
- Duration: 15 weeks
Offered both in-person in San Francisco and New York, as well as online, App Academy offers an intensive coding bootcamp with a curriculum that’s practical and hands-on.
- Approximate cost: Free
- Duration: 16 weeks
General Assembly prides itself in having more than 70,000 alumni, and its coding bootcamp houses an impressive roster of hiring partners that include top-notch tech companies.
- Approximate cost: $14,950
- Duration: 12 weeks
- Approximate cost: $19,950
- Duration: 12 weeks
Wagner College Bootcamp:
- Approximate cost: $7,900
- Duration: 16 weeks
With a focus on successful job placements, Byte Academy incorporates a job guarantee program, through which students receive a full tuition refund if they’re not successful at landing a job following the coding bootcamp. The school’s curriculum is relatively practical and includes a ton of projects that are completed upon graduating from the coding bootcamp. Their course offerings include Full Stack Python development, FinTech, Data Science, Blockchain and Quant-Algos.
- Approximate cost: $14,950
- Duration: 14-24 weeks
Once you’ve taken all the necessary steps to become a software developer, and especially if you’ve further studied at a coding bootcamp or taken courses/certificates, you can expect to work across a range of companies. Depending on what you’re looking for, your budget, and your flexibility, some of the schools listed here will help you get a headstart in your career.
In this competitive field, those hiring software developers range from start-ups to tech giants, who are all in need of top talent. If you end up deciding to enroll in a coding bootcamp, be sure to select a school that offers a job guarantee program. This will not only help you via a mentorship process, but you’ll also likely be guaranteed to get your money back if you don’t find a job after a certain time.