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How to Become a Programmer Without a Degree: Step-by-Step Guide

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By Scott Winstead

how to become a programmer without a degree

Looking for guidance on how to become a programmer without a degree?

It’s a computer world, and if you want to be a crucial part of it while also making a lot of money, a career as a programmer is the way to go.

If you’ve always wanted to be a programmer but never had the opportunity to go to school for it…or if you’re just starting out and considering a career in programming…or if you’re just ready for a career change, you might be wondering if it’s possible to become a programmer without a degree.

The good news is that it is possible!

A conventional four-year degree is undoubtedly the most common route for individuals to enter the field of computer science, but it’s not the only pathway to a career as a computer programmer.

For those who don’t have the luxury of time, resources, or interest in investing years in full-time study, there are now multiple academic options to fast-track the journey to becoming a computer programmer. You can become a proficient programmer without acquiring a formal computer science degree.

In fact, thanks to online learning platforms like Emeritus, there are many successful computer programmers who don’t have a college degree.

Here’s what you need to know about how to become a programmer without a degree.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost for you, we might get a commission if you click the link and purchase.


What is a Programmer?

A programmer is someone who writes code, which is a set of instructions for computers to follow. The code that programmers write helps to make computer software, apps, and websites work.

Computer programmers work in many different industries.

For instance,  in the gaming industry, programmers create code for video games.

In the financial industry, computer programmers might create code that helps to calculate stock prices or track investments.

And in the healthcare industry, programmers might write code that helps doctors and nurses keep track of patient records.

To illustrate specifically a typical work day in the life of a computer programmer, let’s say you work in the gaming industry.

You might start your day by reading and responding to emails from game developers, managers, and other team members. Then you might spend a few hours working on code for a new video game.

Later in the day, you might take a break to play some of the latest video games (yes, this is part of your job!) to get ideas for your code.


What Skills Do You Need to Become a Programmer?

Not everyone can thrive in a career as a computer programmer. Without certain skill sets, the demands of the job will be too much to bear.

Succesful computer programmers possess a vast array of skills that can be applied in various workplaces. Apart from collaborating with software developers, they often lead the design and creation of software programs.

Their responsibilities encompass everything from planning software to developing applications to writing programs.

Here are some of the top required skills to become a respected computer programmer:

  • Coding skills. Programming requires specific knowledge of how to write code for computers. This includes learning different coding languages, such as Java, Python, and C++. Different languages are better suited for different tasks – so a good programmer will know when to use each language.
  • Analytical skills. Programmers need to be able to think analytically. They need to be able to break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable pieces. They also need to be able to spot patterns and trends. This ability to think analytically is what helps programmers write efficient code. For instance, let’s say you’re a programmer who works in the healthcare industry. You might need to write code that helps doctors and nurses keep track of patient records. To do this, you’ll first need to understand how doctors and nurses currently keep track of patient records. Then you’ll need to identify patterns and trends in this data. From there, you can start to write code that will help make the process more efficient.
  • Creative skills. Programmers also need to be creative. They need to be able to come up with new and innovative solutions to problems. This is what helps programmers create code that is both efficient and effective. For instance, let’s say you’re a programmer who works in the gaming industry. You might need to come up with new ways to make game characters move or interact with each other. To do this, you’ll need to be creative and come up with code that is both efficient and effective.
  • Discipline. A successful computer programmer is one who is very disciplined. They need to be able to focus on their work and complete tasks promptly. This is important because programming projects can often be complex and time-consuming. Also, it’s not uncommon to have more than one project going at a time. So being disciplined enough to focus on doing a good job on all of your projects is essential.


A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Programmer

Of course, having a college degree in computer science can give you a leg up when applying for jobs and can make you more attractive to employers. But if you have neither the time nor money, there are other ways to make your resume look appealing to potential employers.

Here are some tips on how to become a programmer without a college degree:


1. Take Online Courses to Learn the Basics of Computer Programming

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Emeritus is the global leader in making world-class, professional education from top universities accessible and affordable for everyone. With online courses, bootcamps, degree programs, professional certificates, and senior executive programs, Emeritus helps individuals build in-demand, future-ready skills in a wide range of industries.

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Start by learning the basics of computer programming. Luckily, there are several easy ways to do this without paying to go to college.

You can sign up for computer programming courses to gain the technical skills you need on online learning sites like Emeritus, a leading online learning platform that has partnered with more than 60 of the world’s top universities to deliver college-level courses in a more affordable and accessible format. These courses are taught by experienced professionals and can give you a good foundation in computer programming.

Before signing up for online courses, though, there are some important things you’ll want to look for:

  • Is the course backed by a trusted university or institution? You want to make sure you’re learning from a reputable source. These days, you can take college-level courses from world-class universities without enrolling in school.
  • Does the course cover all of the essential programming languages? Different courses may focus on different areas, so be sure to find one that covers everything you need to know. It’s also important to make sure the information is up to date and the field is always evolving.
  • Do they offer any type of certification or completion rewards? Ideally, you should find a course that offers some kind of certification at the end. This will prove to employers and hiring managers that you’re knowledgeable in this field and have the technical skills needed to do the job.
  • Is there a way to interact with instructors or peers? You’ll want to make sure there is some type of online support so you can get help when you need it, whether via email, message boards, or video calls. Programming isn’t the easiest thing to learn, so having a support system is key.
  • Is it a good value? Cheaper isn’t necessarily better, but it’s important to consider the overall value you’re getting for your money and time. Compare the features, cost, and length of the course to make sure you’re getting a good deal.
  • Does it fit your learning style? Finally, consider your own learning style. Everyone learns differently – some like hands-on projects, others prefer lectures or reading assignments. Knowing how you best absorb information will help you pick out the right course for building the computer programming skills you’re looking for.

Looking to upgrade your career? Consider enrolling in Emeritus’s online courses.

With cutting-edge technology, revolutionary course material, and guidance from top-notch educators, Emeritus has empowered more than 250,000 learners across the globe.

Their exceptional selection of programming courses and certificate programs from renowned institutions can get you the proficiency you need to become a computer programmer in just a few months. It’s one of the best ways to gain the necessary expertise for a lucrative career in the field.

Emeritus has a wide selection of highly-rated programming courses, including:

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2. Choose a Programming Language to Learn

Once you’ve learned the basics of computer programming, it’s time to choose a programming language to focus on. There are dozens of different programming languages, so it can be tough to decide which one(s) to learn.

A good place to start is by finding out which programming languages are most in-demand by employers. For example, according one recent Stack Overflow Developer Survey, JavaScript, HTML/CSS, and SQL are the three most popular programming languages. If your ultimate goal is to land a programming job, it pays to learn these languages.

It’s also important to find out which language best suits the type of project you want to build. For example, JavaScript is great for web development and mobile apps, while Python is often used for data analysis and artificial intelligence projects. Do some research and figure out which language will help you build the type of project you have in mind.

Or, try taking an online quiz. The quiz will ask you questions about your interests and skills, and then recommend a few programming languages for you to learn.


3. Join an Online Community of Programmers

One of the best ways to start a career in programming is by joining an online community of programmers. These communities are a great way to meet other programmers, learn from experienced professionals and get your questions answered.

The value of networking can’t be overstated, even in today’s digital world. You need to be as active as possible to move upwards in this industry.

Connect with other coders, ask questions, and listen to advice. Try helping others out with their projects as well, which is a great way to improve your coding skills. Plus, it’s a good way to make some friends who can help you along the way!

Some popular online communities for programmers include Stack Overflow, GitHub, and Reddit’s /r/programming subreddit.


4. Start Working on Personal Projects

Another great way to become a programmer is by working on personal projects. After all, you learn best by doing.

Pick a project that interests you, and then set aside some time each day or week to work on it. You can also join coding challenges to practice your skills and compete with others.

Plus, these projects can help you better understand concepts like debugging, refactoring, and object-oriented programming

Not only will this give you some real-world experience, but it will also help you build a portfolio of work that you can show to potential employers.

If you’re not sure what kind of project to work on, try coming up with an idea for a simple app or website. Then, search online for tutorials that can help you build it.


5. Get a Job

Once you’ve learned the basics of programming and built up your skills, it’s time to start looking for jobs as a computer programmer.

There are a few different ways to find entry level programming jobs.

One option is to search for jobs on job boards, such as Indeed, Monster, or Dice.

Another option is to search for programmer positions on company websites. You can also try reaching out to companies directly and asking if they have any openings for programmers.

The job search process isn’t always fun or easy. It can take a while to find a job, so it’s important to stay motivated and keep trying. Be consistent in your job search, and don’t give up.

Don’t forget to update your resume and portfolio regularly as you learn new skills and gain experience. You also want to make sure your resume reflects the specific skills and experience that employers are looking for.

Again, networking is key when it comes to finding a programming job. Reach out to other programmers you know or attend meetups or conferences in the area you’re interested in. Networking can help you build relationships with potential employers and gain valuable insight into the industry.

And finally, don’t forget to brush up on your interviewing skills. If you’re trying to land a programming job without a degree, you really have to shine in the interview. Be prepared to answer difficult questions and make sure you’re familiar with the different programming languages and technologies employers are looking for.


6. Keep Learning and Advancing Your Career

Once you’ve landed a job as a computer programmer, it’s important to keep learning and advancing your career.

One way to do this is by taking on more responsibility at work and taking on additional projects. Another way to keep learning is by taking courses and attending conferences. This will help you stay up-to-date on the latest trends in programming and learn new skills.

Finally, don’t forget to network with other programmers. This can help you find new opportunities and make connections that can help you advance your career.


A Final Word on Becoming a Programmer without a Degree

A career in computer programming means having the opportunity to work in a variety of industries and on a variety of projects. It’s a challenging, yet rewarding field that offers plenty of growth potential.

Becoming a programmer doesn’t require a college degree. With the right skills and experience, you can start a career in programming without spending four years and thousands of dollars on a degree.

Start by learning the basics of computer programming with online courses on trusted educational platforms like Emeritus. This will help you get on the path to landing a job without a degree and building a successful career in the field.

Do you have any questions on how to become a programmer without a degree? Let us know in the comments below!

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