Do You Need A Degree To Be A Software Engineer?

Are you a little confused about whether you need a degree to become a software engineer? Well, you’ve come to the right place. This article will give you insights into what it takes to become one.

Software engineering is a lucrative and worthwhile career and considering becoming one is a decision in the right direction. The good thing about becoming a software engineer is that you don’t necessarily need a degree in software engineering to become one.

Even better, you don’t need a university or college degree to become one. However, getting a degree in software engineering is an added advantage for you when applying for software engineering jobs.

What is most essential to becoming a software engineer is possessing proficiencies in computer programming. Learn how to become a software engineer without a degree in this article.

Can You Become A Software Engineer Without A Degree?

Yes. You can become a software engineer without a university or college degree. The software engineering field is a highly specialized field that requires exceptional programming skills.

There are many avenues online and offline to learn programming skills. With sheer determination, a personal computer, and an internet connection, you can master coding in different programming languages such as C++, Python, and JavaScript.

Badging a degree in computer science, software development, Information technology, etc. is good and can give you an edge when applying for jobs. However, a computer science or software engineering degree alone is not enough to get you started as a software engineer or land a job.

Most organizations are concerned about what you can do and not the number of certifications or degrees you’ve acquired. Hence, demonstrating proficiency in programming is what is essential to becoming a software engineer.

In addition, a large percentage of software engineers in the United State do not have a degree related to computer science or software engineering.

That said, let us explore who a software engineer is to help us further in this discussion.

Who Is A Software Engineer?

A software engineer is someone who uses his knowledge of computer programming to design, process, and develop computer software or applications that offer value to users.

Basically, software engineering requires a high level of ability to code in programming languages such as Python, Javascript, and C++, among others to create software.

Furthermore, a software engineer can choose to work in a software engineering firm as part of their product development team. You can equally choose to be self-employed, developing products for individuals and firms.

More so, you can decide to develop PC or mobile applications and put them up for download on app stores while you earn royalties for each download that can run into multiple figures.

Aside from programming skills, software engineers also use soft skills like critical thinking, project management, and problem-solving skills to successfully develop software.

How To Become A Software Engineer Without A Degree

There are multiple ways you can fulfill your dream of becoming a software engineer without a degree from a university or college.

Some of them include:

1. Take Online Courses

Information has been decentralized. With the snap of your finger, you can get to know about a dozen things without even leaving your house.

Enrolling in an online course is your best bet for gaining software engineering skills. There is a myriad of MOCC platforms like Udemy, Coursera, Udacity, etc., that offer both free and paid software design courses.

Many software engineers including degree holders in computer science and software design have had to learn coding in different programming languages online. Courses are available for beginners, amateurs, and even advanced levels.

It will interest you to know that Google also has free and paid software development courses that you can benefit from. Moreso, many online courses offer certificates that you can get for a fee after finishing the course and passing the assessment.

These certificates are recognized by employers and give you a boost in your chances of getting a job. As they serve as proof that you are giving yourself to proactive learning.

2. Attend Coding Bootcamps

Many institutions and organizations organize software engineering boot camps where you can learn programming skills within a few weeks. They teach basic programming skills that can help you advance your software engineering skills.

Furthermore, attending a coding boot camp is an excellent opportunity to meet amazing and talented individuals like you with who you can share ideas and materials, and gain inspiration.

You can equally build a relationship outside of the camp and help yourselves grow together.

Who knows you may even find a partner or partners who you can work with on developing an application that may become the next big thing.

3. Learn From YouTube

YouTube is a powerful video learning tool where you can learn virtually anything, including how to eat.

Many professional software engineers who wish to build recognition and advance their careers take YouTube as an avenue for that. They publish free valuable content that is often of great help to people.

From there, they may advertise their courses or offer mentorship to people for a fee. If you have the resources to enroll in what they offer, then you can get access to premium content that will really help you grow faster and better.

4. Join A Social Media Community of Software Engineers

Asides from scrolling mindlessly for fun or chit-chatting on social media, there are a couple of meaningful things that you can do there.

Social media groups present great opportunities to connect with like minds. There are tons of software engineering or IT-related Facebook groups that you can join where experts share their knowledge to help newbies become better with their skills.

The good thing about these groups is that people are always willing to help you.

More so, once you join these groups you are allowed to post questions on what you need help with. These groups are equally great for connecting with professionals, intermediates, and even newbies.

The possibilities of social media are endless, and you can create great bonds with people from there who may even turn out to be lifetime buddies.

5. Join Online Discussion Forums

Just like joining a Facebook group, you can also join online discussion forums. Reddit and Quora are the most popular ones today.

Reddit for instance has a variety of communities where people discuss. You can also join in discussions, ask questions, and learn a lot from other people’s contributions.

On quora, you can ask a question and get answers from people. You can even see other questions related to software engineering that people have already provided answers to and learn from there.

6. Embark On Personal Projects

If you want to become better at a thing, then do it every day. The saying that practice makes perfect holds true for learning software design too. This means that to become proficient in software engineering, you need to build real apps.

It may be pretty difficult to deal with a cumbersome amount of algorithms when starting out. In fact, it can be so boring and frustrating and you’d probably make a lot of mistakes and get stuck many times. But you’d have to push yourself out of your comfort zone to achieve your goal.

While taking on personal projects, you’d be able to figure out what doesn’t work and what works.

Eventually, you’d learn the craft and become proficient enough to build apps seamlessly and take on clients that would reward you awesomely.

Once you’re quite competent with your software design skills, you can apply as tech support or as an assistant for IT-related jobs because do not require expert knowledge or skills. This way you can horn your skills while working and gain experience on the job.

8. Volunteer To Build Softwares For SMEs

As a way of building your portfolio, you can begin to put yourself out there by volunteering to build applications for SMEs. There is a gazillion of them out there and they will be more than happy to have someone help them design a software application for their business.

The goal is to do this to a few of them and give them something that would blow their mind in exchange for testimonials that you can use to pitch to clients who can pay handsomely for your services.

Moreso, those SMEs you did a free job for will be glad to recommend it to their friends or whoever they know who can pay well.

Essential Skills Needed To Become A Software Engineer

To become a software engineer, you’d need a combination of soft and hard skills.

Some of the hard skills, you’d need to arm yourself with include:

1. Coding and Computer Programming

Coding or programming skills are an essential foundation for software engineers.  It involves the use of various programming languages ​​(e.g. Javascript, Python, C++) to write commands or instructions for software programs or computer applications to follow.

2. Software Testing

Software testing involves examining the gaps between a software product and its expected requirements. This is a process to ensure that an application is free of bugs or defects and improve its performance.

3. Object-Oriented Design

Object-oriented design is the process of developing a chain or network of objects that interact to solve underlying software problems. This is a skill that software engineers use to build reusable and flexible software.

4. Software Development

It is the ability to programmatically build software applications.  It could be mobile app development, front-end or back-end development, etc.

While some of the soft skills you will need are:

1. Problem-solving

This is the ability to seek solutions to problems.  Software engineers use this skill to resolve defects in software products after testing. It’s also a skill that helps them stay focused and deal with challenges while programming.

2. Creativity and Critical thinking

Creativity and critical thinking are important skills for software engineers.  They involve the ability to think more openly and quickly about solutions when needed.  Software engineers need this skill to quickly adapt to changes and find alternative solutions to problems.

3. Project Management

All software engineering-related tasks require some steps that must be done with care. With project management skills, software engineers can gradually plan and develop strategies to achieve their goals.

Also, time management is a subset of project management. It is the understanding of how to meet deadlines by easily organizing workflow and avoiding mistakes.


Is considering becoming a software engineer without a degree bad?

No. In fact, there are a lot of benefits that come with learning self-learning.

For instance, it is a safe and excellent option for those who cannot afford tuition. More so, you can control your learning pace especially if you’re taking online courses.

You can also learn and start practicing within a relatively short time unlike when you enroll in a university or college to earn a degree.

How can you learn software engineering without enrolling in college or a university?

You can benefit from software engineering online courses available on many MOOC platforms. You can equally go on YouTube and learn.

How long does it take to become a software engineer?

It takes four years to badge a degree in software engineering. But if you can learn within a year if you’re committed through self-directed learning. However, you would need to take on a lot of projects successfully before you claim to be an expert in the field.

How can you make money as a software engineer?

One of the obvious avenues to make money as a software engineer is by developing software applications for clients. You can also offer coaching services or create an online course.

Final Thoughts

This article has made it clear that it doesn’t take a degree to become a software engineer. Rather, what is most important is competence in the technical skills of programming.

Therefore, the inability should not deter you from going for your dreams of becoming a software engineer. You can take advantage of free and paid online courses today.

Also, surround yourself with a community of like-minded individuals that can give you the needed motivation to achieve your goals.

It would be best if you check the article on what software skills are to learn about other computer skills that are valued across different jobs and industries.

I hope this article helped.

Thanks for reading.