Becoming a software engineer means different things to different people. That’s why many people take on different routes to reach the same goal. At Xperti, we curate the best tech talent in development, so we have plenty of insights on what it takes. Know someone who’s exploring the vast realm of software development? These 15 powerful tips to become a software engineer (even without a degree) will be useful! After all, we’ve sought Xperti advice in putting them together!
Software engineering skills are very competitive. Becoming a software engineer is a moving target. But even if you know the basics of programming and problem solving, you’ve got it covered. Assuming, of course, you’re already persevering and hardworking.
Just like in any other profession, software developers learn their skills over time. One must just keep learning and practicing until he/she masters the rules. Easier said than done. The gap between acquiring skills and mastering them lies in one word: Resources.
You can’t become a mechanical engineer or an architect at home as you don’t have the equipment to practice. But to become a software developer all you need is a laptop/desktop. Now comes the next step: Identifying the technology stream you want to work in.
The demand for a ‘software engineering job’ has spiked over the years. But it isn’t likely to die down anytime soon. It is going to keep rising. This is what makes it different from other professions. Demand for software engineering jobs doesn’t go in peaks and troughs. The projected recruitment rate for software engineers will grow by 21% by 2028. That’s higher than the average projected growth rate for other occupations: 5%.
A degree in any field is proof that you have the required expertise and skills. That you have the qualifications to perform certain work. For software engineers, work experience and performance do the work. Testimonials from former clients and a project portfolio help build credibility too.
The growing demand has been good for elite software engineers. (Those who had the skills and experience but lacked degrees). Firms are also taking a more flexible view of freelance software developers. Especially those who compare well against counterparts with qualifications but not enough experience.
Right now, there is a surplus of software development courses available online. Whether the technology is new or old, you can get free and paid courses online. Top software engineers from the industry have also designed tailored courses. Assignments and quizzes are also usually available to self-evaluate skill levels. They also give you a sense of what working in a professional environment would be like.
Over here, I’d like to point out that primary ‘technical skills’ are important. But so are soft skills, especially if you work in a diverse environment. That comes, of course, with personal interaction. And the most fruitful engagements? They occur when you interact with the top tech talent in the technology industry.
Software engineering is a giant umbrella that covers many different streams of technology. Frontend development, backend development, full-stack development, software architecture management, database management. These and other roles start as ‘software engineer jobs’ before branching out.
Each software engineering job described above needs various programming languages and frameworks. Almost every skilled software engineer tries to work on many platforms at once. A common mistake. i.e. These elite software developers take to being ‘jack of all trades’ and masters of none.
To become a skilled software engineer, select a field that suits you best and give it your all time and effort. Master it to qualify as an expert in that domain. It increases your credibility and makes you marketable.
Software novices try to either attempt many different programming languages at once. Or shift to other languages after learning the basics of one. This mistake costs software developers in the long term.
It’s better to take a deep-dive approach. Go for one programming language. Understand the syntax and the fundamental concepts of programming. Java or C++ are good options, depending on your preference.
As basic as it sounds, you need to practice coding. A lot. Keep familiarizing yourself with the coding syntax and libraries. You’ll often see instructors reproducing code from memory in online classes. That comes from good practice. The idea is to make your code cleaner and simpler, and only practice can achieve that.
Programming gets more and more exciting as we see our code generate results. It’s here where even elite software engineers make a big mistake. They focus on practical output, at the expense of theory. Don’t overlook fundamentals and basic concepts. They explain so much and provide a background motive and explanation into the code.
Getting a good grip on the logic is important if you want to go from mere coding to software engineering.
Technologies are ever-changing, so you need to adapt to these changes and move forward. A skilled software engineer should not have any difficulty with programming language updates. Syntax can be different. But the logic will not change much. Let’s take the analogy of smartphones: Everyone has a different phone. Developers place icons in different styles. Menus are different. Yet users move from one device to the next, because the logic is the same. After all: It’s a phone. The same is the case with programming languages. You must be able to transition to a new language if it offers features that can improve your work.
While learning, the average software developer relies on free resources, available online. This approach makes sense when you want to become a software developer. Now look at it from the other side:
Are the people who want to hire software engineers using the same freemium approach? Unlikely.
Big firms and software giants want results. When they hire software engineers, they want to ensure a positive return. That’s why you’ll often find a software engineering job description list tools and products. The industry knows these tools well. But they are unknown in the software developer (student) community.
While learning, even a skilled software engineer is likely to work alone. Not so in a software house. Typical ‘software engineer responsibilities’ include creating modules that the developer needs to merge. With other modules. Created by other software developers. Merging modules is not easy in any programming language. That’s why experts designed tools for it, including:
People seeking to hire software engineers expect them to know such tools. Often, the software engineering job description mentions the tools. See yourself as top talent? Get proficient in these tools before applying for your next software developer job!
Writing code is important for a software developer, of course. But so is the ability to read and understand someone else’s code. Beginners underestimate the importance of reading code! As earlier mentioned, code is like language. You’re not quite adept until you can write and read in it!
Two reasons here:
One, when you work with a group of people, you’ll come across errors while merging their modules. Debugging becomes a nightmare if you cannot understand the code from everyone’s POV.
Second: When you’re learning a new language, documentation is your source of information. But when you’re out there, things are different. A skilled software engineer doesn’t always have good documentation, statements can be ambiguous. That’s where code reading skills come in handy. To start, practice reading available codes.
High-level languages have become easier to understand. But if codes are haphazard and lack consistency, they can still be difficult to read. There are various practices that a software developer can adopt when writing code. These practices make his/her code easier to read, easier to test and easier to reuse. Such practices include:
We all start with assignments and tutorials. It’s a good start. But the game’s a bit different when you’re a skilled software engineer. “Real life” software engineer responsibilities kick in. Companies hire software engineers who can provide solutions to problems. This is not the same as completing assigned tasks. Your responsibilities include the ability to provide efficient solutions.
Enable yourself to come up with ways to complete a task as a problem-solver.
Virtual communities are abundant, created by software developers. Most of these cater to a certain programming language or a specific industry. It is easier to get help from someone with the same background or who’s working on a similar project. You learn about the corporate culture of firms that want to hire software engineers. A community of experts is a great way to stay on top of emerging technologies. And to learn new tools, relevant to your area of expertise.
If there’s one place to find tech talent, it’s at industry events. Find technology conferences and seminars in your home city. It is a very efficient way to meet the right people in the industry and build a network that supports your career. Introduce yourself, describe your work and try to meet as many people as you can. With the right connections on board, the effort is worth it!
Technology is one of (if not the most)! dynamic industries on the planet. Top talent differentiates itself by always staying ahead of what’s going on in the industry. With every new technology come new features. You become equipped with time- and resource-saving tools for your projects.
Your portfolio describes your work as a software developer. Recruiters hire software engineers, by turning to sites like LinkedIn. Update your online profile. It can be as relevant as a physical interview these days! Maintaining your online profile includes updating material on your social media handles. By itself? Not a difficult task. But it can prove to be crucial for your career as a skilled software engineer.
Talent or skills are only one aspect of your personality. A skilled software engineer is what everyone wants to be. But without discipline, one cannot reach this potential. A disciplined software developer has a defined work ethic that reflects in his or her work. Someone who:
would figure as top talent. All this is only possible if you are a disciplined software professional.
Ask recruiters. They’ll always hire software engineers who are disciplined over those who are more skilled but unpredictable.
Yes, tech talent. Physical interviews are still important! Make the most of them. Done right, interviews give you the entry into that software developer role you’ve dreamt of. A word of caution: Don’t leave everything to the actual interview. You won’t give your best if you’re under pressure. Practicing will improve your responses and can help you deal with the pressure. Mock interviews work well when done with friends from the same industry.
Take part in as many interviews as you can. Even if the advertised software engineer job description did not look too promising. Think of them as:
So far, everything has been about preparation. These are things that will get you an interview. But how do you make sure you get hired?
Xperti often observes the mismatch between technology jobseekers and the jobs on offer. We can bridge that gap for you if you send us your resume or create an Xperti profile here. Xperti matches skilled software engineers with jobs. These jobs pair well against their experience, location, and career preferences. The job is yours. If you score on Xperti’s 3-stage evaluation process and the client interview.Unlike recruitment agencies, Xperti does not spam you with jobs that are not suitable for you.Software engineers can also specify preferences by city. Technology recruitment specialists at Xperti will factor these in too.
Software engineer responsibilities vary according to the career path you have chosen. Generally, software engineers are responsible for:1. Building2. Developing3. Launching4. Maintaining software products and systems
New algorithms, products or features can make you famous in the industry. Some prominent names include:1. Linus Torvalds, known for developing Linux Kernel2. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter3. Rob Pike, known for working on Go programming language (a project by Google)
The answer: Your background and your determination. With a background in computer sciences or mathematics software engineering will be easy. But even if you don’t, with enough determination, you can get there. There is no age for learning a new skill and it’s easier now than ever to learn online. We’d recommend that you first take some online classes. They’ll help you decide if software engineering education is difficult for you or not.
The real peak in the software engineering jobs’ curve is yet to come. Thousands of more jobs will get added to the software engineering industry. So if you are planning to become one, we hope we’ve given you helpful advice on how to get started. All the best from Xperti!
Shaharyar Lalani is a developer with a strong interest in business analysis, project management, and UX design. He writes and teaches extensively on themes current in the world of web and app development, especially in Java technology.
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