How to Become a Software Engineer Without a Degree?

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Whether you need a career change or are entering the workforce for the first time, becoming a software engineer without a degree is within your grasp—if you put in some hard work.

Despite the fact that many will likely tell you that it’s necessary to get a degree to become a software engineer, self-taught individuals and bootcamp graduates typically have an advantage over recent graduates.


Attending a coding bootcamp or learning programming by yourself gives you an advantage—the ability to write production-ready code. Many recent grads lack the real-world experience that online courses and bootcamps offer, which will prepare you for joining the workforce much faster.

Ready to jump on the fast track to your software engineering career? Reach out to our software dev mentors today.

Related: Software Development vs. Software Engineering: Career Path Guide

How Do I Become a Software Engineer Without a Degree?

If you want to get into software engineering without going to college, here’s what to do:

Develop These Prerequisite Skills

There’s no getting around the fact that software engineering is highly technical, and you’ll need in-depth knowledge of many programming languages, platforms, tools, and other technologies. Therefore, when working on your software engineering skills, familiarize yourself with the following:

  • Cloud-based platforms: Most tech trends move towards big data, and software engineers must develop their skills in using cloud platforms like AWS. Almost every company uses AWS or other cloud platforms; they allow them to scale but require software engineers with experience working with cloud-based applications.
  • Containers: When you develop software, you have to optimize it for multiple operating systems—that’s where containers come into the picture. Proficiency in Kubernetes or Docker is a highly sought-after skill that hiring managers look for; this allows their engineers to create software that works on various operating systems.
  • GitHub: When it comes to version control tools, GitHub is king for software developers. When you write code, you must store it somewhere—like in a source-control platform. And when you work with other software engineers, GitHub allows you to collaborate without interfering with everyone else’s code.

Study the Right Languages

A PC screen showing someone working on JavaScript code

Not all programming languages are created equal. We recommend starting out with the following:

  • JavaScript: JavaScript is a general-purpose language with many years under its belt as the foundational object-oriented programming language. If you want to become a software engineer, learning JavaScript is a necessity. It’s secure, platform-agnostic, and enables engineers to find a job almost anywhere.
  •  Python: Another prevalent programming language is Python—it gives software engineers a powerful, open-source language that works for many purposes. This language offers dynamic features that are useful across operating systems and automatic memory management and is a key skill for any software engineer to learn.
  • Ruby: Even though it’s a newer language, Ruby is object-oriented like JavaScript and used by software engineers to build functional web apps quickly. It’s open-source, uses automatic memory management, supports many programming features, and is often paired with Ruby on Rails.
  • SQL: One of the oldest programming languages, SQL, is the most used for databases worldwide. Even though software engineers don’t typically maintain and organize databases, understanding how to navigate them and build functional programs around them is a crucial skill.

Start Some Practice Projects

Related: Start Your Data Science Career

Showing your ability to code is the most critical part of your resume—especially without previous work experience. You can work on any programming-related projects for your portfolio, whether it’s Python scripts, mobile apps, Java programs, etc.

Instead of listing the languages, you know on your CV, show potential employers that you know how to use them.

Work on projects that showcase various skills—show that you can set up a dev environment, use standard libraries and frameworks, work on mobile systems, and understand full-stack development.

Arguably the best way to do this is by using your GitHub profile as your portfolio and a place to work on your projects—it shows hiring managers every project you’ve contributed to, along with the ones you started.

In addition, your dashboard shows how often you commit and how many people like or use your code. Not to mention that GitHub is one of the first places hiring managers look to evaluate your web presence.

Optimize Your GitHub Profile

The key to your GitHub profile is maintaining consistent activity—it lists all of your contributions broken down by each month and year.

However, you don’t need every contribution to be something major—simple bug fixes, commit messages, etc., all help you stay active. And don’t forget; the best software engineers know how to write documentation so that others can engage with their code.

That means creating a solid ReadMe file for each project you create is essential for your repository; it shows what your code is for, instructions to build your code, and how others can contribute to the project.

And when contributing to someone else’s project, leaving a detailed commit message is necessary. This message explains why you changed the code and helps to hire managers to assess how well you work with other developers.

Enroll in a Coding Bootcamp

a man enrolling in a software engineering program

Unlike online courses or self-studying, a coding bootcamp doesn’t leave you to your own devices—it offers an intensive, immersive education where you learn the essential software engineering skills that you need to start your career as an entry-level developer.

Many successful software engineers skipped their degree, learned from a coding bootcamp, and landed a job with the help of their mentors from the courses they took.

Don’t join just any coding bootcamp—join the one with globally renowned certifications; book your slot here.

Work Towards Your Career As a Software Engineer

One great way to land a software engineer role when first starting out is to network. Referral and word-of-mouth go a long way in the tech world—building a network of industry peers and mentors who can offer you professional guidance and share job news is crucial.

If you’re enrolled in a coding bootcamp like TECH I.S., you’ll have access to a support network of career counselors and mentors to help along the way. And if you already work for an organization that employs software devs, you can proactively reach out to them within the company.

Related: Learn About Coding Bootcamp