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How to Become a Software Engineer Without a Degree

by | Oct 31, 2023

Overview

As the tech industry continues to boom in recent years, there are few jobs as popular as software engineering. And it’s no secret why – with flexible working options and lucrative salaries (see below), who wouldn’t want a piece of that cake?

Average salary of a software engineer at different seniority levels: 

Software Engineer

Junior

S$3.4k

S$5.0k

S$7.7k

Mid

S$4.5k

S$6.8k

S$10.5k

Senior

S$5.5k

S$7.7k

S$11.5k

Lead

S$6.5k

S$9.0k

S$15.0k

Image source: NodeFlair

Thankfully, you’d be pleasantly surprised to learn that a traditional degree may not be necessary to become successful software engineer, as there are alternative pathways to embarking on a career as a software engineer without a formal degree.  

Before we tell you how, let us first talk about what a software engineer does. 

Different Specialisations of a Software Engineer 

Software engineering is a dynamic field that offers a variety of roles and responsibilities. As a software engineer, you’ll be in-charge of designing, developing and maintaining software applications, systems and solutions. There a several specialisations you may consider choosing, including:

  • Front-End Developer: As a front-end developer, you will be responsible for the user interface (UI) and creating the visual elements of a software application, making it both user-friendly and easy on the eyes.
  • Back-End Developer: As the name suggests, back-end developers work on the behind-the-scenes, aka server-side of applications, ensuring that data is securely processed and stored.
  • Full-Stack Developer: Full-stack developers are basically a combination of front and back-end, and usually possess expertise in both aspects, allowing them to work on all features of an application.

    Image source:  Medium

  • Mobile App Developer: Naturally, mobile app developers specialise in creating applications for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
  • DevOps Engineer: DevOps engineers bridge the gap between development and operations, ensuring that the integration and automation of software development process remains seamless.

    Pathway to Becoming a Software Engineer Without a Degree

    Sounds like a tough feat to achieve without a degree, doesn’t it? Of course, it’s not going to be a breeze, but it’s definitely not impossible. Below are some steps you can take to begin your journey as a software engineer. 

    1. Build a Strong Foundation: Just like buildings, having a strong foundation is paramount to ensure that the structure is sturdy. Thus, the first step would be to acquire a solid understanding of programming languages and fundamentals. You can start with free or accessible online resources such as Codeacademy, Coursera, or our very own Heicoders Academy, where you can pick up on programming languages like Python, JavaScript or Java.In addition, consider enrolling in online coding bootcamps like those offered by Udacity. These programmes provide a comprehensive training in software development and often result in job placement assistance. For instance, Heicoders Academy has a Job Placement Programme, where we help to connect our tech talents with a wide range of organisations after they have completed our courses.
    2. Build a Portfoliio: One of the best ways to leave a lasting first impression on potential employers would be through an impressive portfolio. Build a portfolio of projects, e.g., websites, mobile apps, or open-source contributions to demonstrate your skills to employers. To find out how you can build a strong tech portfolio, read more here.
    3. Networking: Connect with like-minded professionals through conferences, social-media (e.g., LinkedIn), and online forums. Joining such communities can provide support, mentorships, insights, and might even open some doors in the industry.
    4. Internships and Freelance Work: We all start somewhere – as an aspiring software engineer, seek out internships, where you will gain practical experience and learning opportunities from seasoned professionals. Freelance work can also work as a side hustle while you pick up the tricks of trade. These experiences will also be helpful in building a professional track record.
    5. Certifications: To appear even more appealing to employers, obtain relevant software engineering certifications. Some popular certifications include AWS Certified Developer, Google Professional DevOps Engineer, and CompTIA Security+.
    6. Master Job Search / Interviews: Last, once you’ve completed all your preparation, it’s time to look for a suitable job. Prepare for both technical and behavioural interviews, network actively, apply broadly, and stay persistent. Read our three part series on how to land your dream tech job here.

    Remember, your journey to becoming a software engineer without a degree is a testament to your grit and passion. It will take time, but with hardwork and perseverance, it’s entirely doable. All the best!

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