How to Become a Software Engineer Without a Degree

how to get a software engineering job without a degree

The 21st century has seen exponential technological growth in a very short time frame. Innovations like smart technology and AI programs coupled with massive improvements to the internet and software have created a highly tech-centric society. With this massive surge in technology, there is an increasing demand for workers in this industry. With a high demand for workers with in-depth knowledge of a highly technical field, software engineering has become a highly lucrative position. This has led many to pursue careers as software engineers. However, with the continuous increase in the price of a college degree, many are left wondering how to become a software engineer without a degree.

In the past, a career in such a technical field would be nearly impossible without a college degree. However, thanks to the massive improvements in tech and software, this pursuit is no longer just a pipe dream. In this article, we will look to cover some of the basics of software engineering and examine the financial compensation for software engineers. Then, we will take a deeper dive into how to become a software engineer without a degree.

Here is a complete guide on how to become a software engineer without a degree.

Job Description and the Basics

Before exploring a career in software engineering, it is important to understand what a software engineer does. Firstly, software is a set of instructions and programs that computers use to execute specific tasks. Some examples of software would be programs like Microsoft Office, Google Drive, Photoshop, Skype, etc. Software is a broad term that covers just about any type of computer program designed for a specific task.

These engineers are the ones responsible for creating, designing, editing, and maintaining these software programs. Software engineering is unique because it requires both creativity and technical know-how. Software engineers have to have a solid understanding of coding and programming, as well as a creative instinct on how to implement and construct these programs. This unique combination of technical knowledge and creativity had made software engineering a highly sought-after and lucrative profession.

What is the Typical Salary?

While software engineering is interesting on its own, what captures most people’s attention is the pay. According to surveys by Indeed, the average salary for a software engineer in the US is $94,077 before bonuses. Entry-level salaries for software engineers are generally between $49,000-$60,000 depending on the company and location. This means that as a software engineer you can make very sound money right away.

However, perhaps the biggest incentive for software engineers is the opportunity to make significantly more money with experience. According to the same study from Indeed, after 5 years the average salary increases to over $103,000. After 10 years the average annual salary increase to nearly $120,000.

Furthermore, with experience, more job opportunities quickly open up with more lucrative salaries. On average, software engineers for Tesla make over $200,000 per year. Software engineers for Walmart on average bring home around $175,000 per year. And there are many more major companies that also offer extremely well-paid positions for software engineers.

How Can I Become a Software Engineer Without a Degree?

Now that we understand what software engineers do and how much money you can expect to make as a software engineer, we can look into how to become a software engineer. One option is the standard path of pursuing a software-based degree at a university level. Almost all major institutions offer software engineering tracks for students to study, and there are many great school options across the country.

However, not everyone is interested in the idea of attending and paying for a university education. Luckily, that is not the only way to pursue a career in software engineering. The first step in becoming a software engineer is to learn to code and program. Software engineers should have a good grasp of using programming languages like Python and Javascript. There are many options for online boot camps that can teach you how to use these programming languages. Once you have a basic understanding of these languages you must continue to practice and hone your skills.

Once you have a solid base of programming and coding knowledge you may be able to find an entry-level position off the bat. However, if you struggle to find something right out of the gate, don’t fear, you have plenty of time. Try to find work in a related field or industry that allows you to continue practicing and sharpening skills. Meanwhile, you should focus on building your portfolio and having a deep repertoire of projects that you can refer potential employers to. It is also a good idea to try to network and connect with others in the industry. Making these connections can make all the difference when trying to get your foot in the door.

Hopefully, this guide has helped show you how to become a software engineer without a degree.

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