The world of software development has exploded in recent years. In fact, the number of development jobs is projected to increase by 21% by 2028. The demand for developers is higher than ever, so there is no better time to jump into this exciting field!
Software development can seem like an intimidating profession rife with necessary hard skills and years of experience. However, the barrier to entry is lower than you may think. Even without a computer science degree, you can kickstart a successful career in software starting today.
Here are a few ways you can begin your career in software without a CS degree.
Learn the Basics Online
The current state of the internet challenges our traditional views on education. While there is still merit in attaining a degree from a college or university, it is not the only path anymore. Through tutorials and eLearning classes, opportunities to develop a new skillset is only a few clicks away.
A quick Google search will fill your screen with online classes, Youtube videos, and blog posts on coding and how to get started. If you are a complete beginner, Youtube is a fantastic way to learn the very basics. This can include ‘what coding is’, ‘what the different programming languages are used for’, and ‘why you should start’.
If you’re on the fence or want to start from scratch, Youtube is a great way to get your feet wet and see if this is something that you want to dive into. There are also eLearning platforms such as Udemy and Skillshare, where you can purchase full courses that are equivalent to, if not better than college computer science courses.
Build a Portfolio
Once you have a base set of knowledge, you want to showcase your work. Building a portfolio of your work allows you to show off your work to potential employers and to others in the space.
Your portfolio can begin as soon as you are able to create a complete product. This is also where you can begin to show your personal flair. Even if you are a beginner, you will still benefit from synthesizing your work into one place.
There are a few ways you can host a portfolio, depending on what you are putting into it and the amount of effort you put into it. For under $20 (USD) a month, you can host your own website using WordPress. Here you will have complete control over your portfolio and can showcase your website development abilities.
You can also use GitHub pages. This is easier but comes with some limitations. You cannot use custom templates and it will give you some trouble if your work requires backend technologies.
No matter the medium, a well-developed portfolio equips you with a snapshot of the work that you can do.
Build on Your Current Skill Set
No matter what your career was before starting on your development journey, you have developed soft skills that can still benefit you. A developer does more than just sit behind a screen all day, they collaborate, build projects, create businesses, and make decisions.
Employers look for more than just hard skills when hiring. In fact, 52% of employers state that a company culture fit is more important than direct experience. Your soft skill set is more important than your hard skill set. Here are some of the most desirable soft skills employers are looking for today:
- Problem Solving
- Critical Thinking
- Collaboration Skills
- Effective Communication Skills
- Innovation Skills
I’ve written an entire article on this subject here: Transferable skills when changing your career to software development, why you already have an edge!
Further developing these soft skills comes in the form of research and implementation. For example, if you want to focus on your collaboration skills, you can learn about agile scrum methodologies. This can prepare you for working with a team on incremental development for a client or your company. You can also get a certification for scrum online and add that to your resume.
Building on your soft skills immediately increases your value to employers. Job postings will include requirements and skill needs, but they only hire you if they think they could work with you.
Get Your Foot In The Door
The most difficult step of any journey is the first step. Even after you develop your software skills, it can be difficult to lock down that first job to start your new career. Luckily, there are many resources available for you to get your foot in the door.
For many without direct work experience, internships are a great way to gain experience while further honing your skills. Internships can also be a chance to get into a specific company that you want to work for. Many internships have the chance to develop into full-time roles if you perform well.
If you have companies on your radar, apply to them! Even if they do not have a specific job posting for you, contact the recruiter or HR team. With a quick email or form submission, you have an opportunity to display your passion for your work. Reaching out directly shows not only your willingness to work but also that you are a self-starter.
Standing out can be difficult in this space, but you have a unique value proposition as a human. Understanding your value and being able to articulate it will help you stand out from the crowd. Ways to stand out can include illustrating your soft skills in an interview and connecting your past experience with your software knowledge.
Jumping into a new field is difficult, and you display your entrepreneurial spirit by trying something new. With potential risk comes extreme potential reward. This industry is booming, and for good reason. You are the right fit for the right company. Stay true to yourself and understand your value, when the right opportunity presents itself, you will be ready to jump in.