How to Become a Software Developer: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Jan 4, 2019

Jan 4, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

If you're thinking about a new career, you should keep an eye on the growing global talent shortage. It's predicted the global workforce could be more than 85 million people short by 2030.

The areas of technology, media, and telecommunications will be some of the hardest hit. The digital skills gap has already slowed down the adoption of new technologies.

The numbers show there will be opportunity in the tech industry for those with the right skills. One of the roles likely to be in demand for some time to come is that of the software engineer.

In this guide, we break down how to become a software developer step by step.

Education and Qualifications

The first question you have is likely about software developer education. What courses or programs should you be considering?

If a career as a software developer is your first choice, you'll want to pick a program in computer science. Related fields like mathematics are also good choices. Most positions will require you to have at least a bachelor's degree.

The coursework you'll do provides the theoretical background for a successful career. Software engineer prerequisites might include knowledge of a coding language or mathematics.

That said, it is possible to become a software engineer without a college degree. Some programmers and developers have associate degrees. Others are self-taught, learning through online communities like GitHub.

Beyond Degrees

You might also want to earn different certifications for software development. These can be useful for college graduates and those who are self-taught.

As you may already know, there are any number of different programming languages. There are even different development frameworks, such as AngularJS and jQuery. It's possible to become a certified developer for almost any framework.

Certificates aren't required, but they can make it easier to get a job. Even if you have a degree or diploma, a certificate can help you show your expertise.

Another area you may want to train in is approaches to software development. Agile software development is the most talked about method, but there are others. You can learn more about Agile to advance your career.

Software development methodologies are migrating beyond the IT department. Today, Agile informs everything from project management to corporate structure.

Learning to Code Is Key for How to Become a Software Developer

If you're not ready for a four-year college degree, you can take steps toward becoming a software engineer.

A degree may form the backbone of your education, but learning to code is more fundamental. Luckily, learning to code is like learning any other trade. You can often take online courses or sign up for a coding bootcamp.

Teaching yourself a coding language is usually straight-forward. You'll need to practice, and you will make mistakes. To become a well-rounded developer, you'll want to learn a few of the more popular coding languages.

Keep in mind that some languages have more staying power than others. C++ has been around for years, but many developers and programmers still learn it today.

Coding can also lead to other careers in the tech world. This skill is as flexible as it is crucial.

Building a Portfolio and Gaining Experience

Whether you're self-taught or finishing up a college degree, you need to build a portfolio and gain experience. Both will be useful when you want to get a job in software development.

You can use school projects and volunteer work to hone your skills and gain experience. You might consider joining a community and working with other amateur developers.

All these projects give you experience. You can showcase them in your portfolio, which will be part of your job applications.

Before you land a full-time job, you may also need to complete internships. Again, this can help you gain experience and build your portfolio.

Getting a Job

Now you're wondering how to get a software engineering job. For the most part, it's like any other job. You'll search for and apply to open positions by sending your resume.

Some employers will only hire those who meet strict software engineer qualifications. These are usually determined by the employer. They can include things like having a degree or a particular certificate.

Employers may also prefer candidates with knowledge of certain languages or frameworks. This is why you should make an effort to learn more than one programming language. Some of the most popular languages today include:

  • Javascript
  • Python
  • CSS and HTML
  • PHP

Employers may require knowledge of particular languages for certain projects. Experience is also valuable.

Continuing Your Career

Becoming a software developer can be a lucrative and satisfying career. Whether you start there or make a switch, there are many opportunities to keep learning.

Project management and leadership could help you move up in your career. Developers should also strive to keep certifications up to date.

You'll also want to make sure you're always learning. New languages are almost constantly emerging, and other languages fall by the wayside.

Approaches to software development also change, as the current Agile transformation shows.

Finally, you should network as well. Connect with other developers and programmers as well as experts in your industry. You never know what opportunities might appear.

The Outlook Is Good

Now you know how to become a software developer. There are several different paths into this career, but one thing is clear. The job outlook for software developers over the next decade is good.

As the talent shortage continues, the demand for skilled developers will increase. The Internet of Things, the push for apps, and even new technologies like AI also drive demand.

If you're not convinced a job in software development is for you, there are many other roles in the tech industry. As the talent crunch continues, more employers will be looking for skilled professionals. Keep an eye on our blog to discover the in-demand roles that best suit you.