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How to Become a Software Engineer Without a Degree (2023 Guide)

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By Scott Winstead

how to become a software engineer without a degree

Are you interested in pursuing a career as a software engineer but don’t have the time or money to go to college? Wondering how to become a software engineer without a degree?

The field of software engineering is growing rapidly, and there is always a big demand for qualified software engineers. In fact, the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows the average software engineering job in the United States pays $105,071 a year. Not only that, they also expect the industry will see 162,900 vacancies for software engineers over the next decade.

Companies are willing to invest in employees who have the right skills and abilities, regardless of whether or not they have a formal education in computer science.

With so many high-paying software engineering jobs out there, it’s the perfect time to get the training you need to break into the industry.

The good news is there are many ways to become a software engineer without a degree. There’s no need to bury yourself in student debt or spend years in college when you can learn everything you need to know without ever setting foot in a classroom.

With online courses from trusted learning platforms, like Emeritus, you can gain the skills and knowledge you need to start your career as a software engineer.

Here’s all you need to know about becoming a software engineer 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 Software Engineer?

A software engineer is a professional who applies the principles of software engineering to the design, development, maintenance, testing, and evaluation of computer software.

Software engineers are involved in all aspects of a software development project, from planning and designing to implementation and maintenance.

They may also be responsible for developing and managing software applications that enable users to perform specific tasks or solve problems.

The duties of a software engineer vary depending on the project, the company, and the engineer’s level of experience.

However, there are some common tasks that all software engineers perform.

These include:

  • Designing, developing, and testing software applications
  • Analyzing user requirements and developing software to meet those needs
  • Identifying and resolving defects or bugs in software programs
  • Creating and maintaining technical documentation
  • Working with other members of a development team to plan, design, and implement new features or updates
  • Providing customer support for software applications


What Skills Do You Need to Become a Software Engineer?

Successful software engineers possess a combination of technical and soft skills.

On the technical side, they should have a strong foundation in computer science and be proficient in various programming languages.

They should also have a good understanding of software development methodologies and be able to use various tools and technologies.

This requires keeping their software engineering skills current as new technologies and approaches are constantly being developed.

In addition to technical skills, software engineers need strong communication, problem-solving, and analytical skills.

They must be able to work effectively in a team environment and be able to take direction from senior members of a project team.

They should also be able to handle multiple tasks simultaneously and be able to meet deadlines. The truth is that working environments for software engineer jobs can sometimes be stressful and fast-paced, so those in the field must be comfortable in this type of environment.

Software engineers must have a good understanding of the business or industry that they are working in and be able to take customer requirements into account when designing software solutions.


A Step by Step Guide to Becoming a Software Engineer Without a Degree

While some software engineer jobs may require a bachelor’s degree, many do not.

Companies are often more interested in hiring candidates who have the right skills and abilities than those who have a formal education in computer science.

So how does one save all that time and money that would otherwise go into a 4-year college?

How do you acquire not just the soft skills, but especially the technical skills to become a software engineer?

Here’s a step-by-step guide.


1. Take Classes Online

Emeritus | Empowering Learners Globally | Online Courses Emeritus | Empowering Learners Globally | Online Courses

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.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Going to college isn’t the only way to receive a quality education, especially in fields like software engineering.

With the rise of technology, online courses have taken the education scene by storm, offering learners the same quality of education as traditional colleges, for a fraction of the cost and time.

Online courses give you great flexibility and convenience, allowing you to learn at your own pace, and from anywhere in the world.

Not only that, the best courses are designed by industry experts and offer practical, real-world experiences, giving you an edge in the job market.

With all these benefits, it’s no surprise that online courses have become an increasingly popular way to gain education.

There are many online learning websites that offer software engineering courses, such as our recommended top choice, Emeritus.

If you’re interested in software engineering and want to gain hands-on, applicable skills in a short amount of time, then you need to check out Emeritus.

With over 60 top university partnerships, Emeritus provides affordable and accessible online classes and certificate programs for the average person.

Their world-class curriculum, advanced technology, and expert instruction from top educators have helped over 250,000 individuals in 80 countries acquire the knowledge and skills needed for in-demand careers.

And with their online software engineering courses, you can get the right skills and knowledge to enter the field in just a few months. Not to mention, Emeritus’ online courses are more flexible than traditional universities, making it easier than ever to jumpstart your career.

Here are some of the top software engineering courses offered through Emeritus:

Software Engineering Course at Carnegie Mellon | Online Course Software Engineering Course at Carnegie Mellon | Online Course

Explore the world of software engineering with Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science Executive Education. This online program equips you with essential knowledge, hands-on skills, and industry insights to take your software engineering projects from vision to reality.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
Machine Learning Online Course | Applied Machine Learning at Columbia Engineering Machine Learning Online Course | Applied Machine Learning at Columbia Engineering

Learn a comprehensive set of supervised and unsupervised machine learning techniques using Python as the primary programming language with this course. Gain valuable knowledge and techniques to develop your skill set in machine learning.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.


2. Practice, Practice, Practice

One of the best ways to learn is by doing. And the best way to practice is by working on projects.

When working on projects, get creative and build something that you’re passionate about as this will keep you motivated.

For example, if you’re interested in fashion, you could build a website or app that helps people find clothes they love. Or you could build a network system for a small business if you enjoy the business aspect of things.

To find projects to work on, sign up for freelance gig sites like Upwork and Fiverr. These sites allow you to browse through thousands of project listings and choose the ones that interest you.

Another great way to find projects is to look for coding challenges online. Coding challenges are small coding problems that you can solve in a matter of minutes or hours. They’re a great way to practice your coding skills and improve your problem-solving abilities.


3. Build a Portfolio

As you hone your skills working on projects, create a portfolio of your work to showcase your skills to potential employers.

Your portfolio should include examples of the projects you’ve worked on as well as detailed descriptions of your role in each project. If possible, include links to the live websites or apps that you’ve built.

When creating your portfolio, make sure to use a simple and clean design. You want potential employers to be able to focus on your work, not be distracted by a cluttered or confusing layout.

You can quickly launch a nice portfolio website with Squarespace or Bluehost by getting a domain name and hosting, finding a template for your site, and publishing your work online.


4. Network with Other Developers

Another important step in becoming a software engineer is to network with other developers. Networking will give you the opportunity to learn from more experienced developers, get feedback on your work, and find out about job openings.

There are many ways to network with other developers.

One of the best ways is to join a local meetup group or coding club. To find meetups near you, check out websites like Meetup.com and search online for coding clubs in your area.

Another great way to network is to attend industry events like conferences, trade shows, and hackathons. Attendance at these events will give you the opportunity to meet other developers and learn about new trends in the industry.


5. Get a Job

Once you’ve built up your skills and created a portfolio of your work, you’re ready to start applying for jobs. The job search process can be daunting, but there are many resources available to help you.

The best way to find software engineer job openings is to search online job boards like Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn. You can also check out the websites of companies that you’re interested in working for as many companies list their open positions on their website.

When applying for jobs, make sure to tailor your resume and cover letter to each position. This will show potential employers that you’re a good fit for the position and increase your chances of getting an interview.

Once you’ve landed a software engineer job interview, prepare for it by researching the company, practicing your answers to common interview questions, and dressing professionally. No matter how talented you might be, if you don’t make a good impression in your intereview, it’s unlikely that you’ll get the job.

Finally, don’t be discouraged if you don’t land your dream job right away. Even experienced software engineers have to go through a few rounds of interviews and multiple rejections before they find the perfect job for them. With perseverance and hard work, you too can find a job as a software engineer that you will love.


A Final Word on Becoming a Software Engineer without a Degree

With the right skills and a strong work ethic, you can build a successful software engineering career.

And while a college degree can give you a leg up, it’s not necessary to break into the field.

There are many ways to learn the skills you need to become a software engineer without going to college.

So what are you waiting for? Get started now to start building your software engineering career.

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

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