Breaking Your Way Into Software Development Without a Degree

Before I knew that I preferred to be on the software, hardware, and troubleshooting side of things in IT, I was a programmer. I wasn’t a full-time programmer at work, but I took several programming classes in school, and had a few duties at work that required me to edit code. As a software developer, you get to build a piece of code from scratch and develop it into a piece of software or program. While it might sound quite geeky, it can be incredibly rewarding to see a piece of software you designed to come to fruition. While that is true, it is also a lot of pressure. There was some point where i decided that it was not for me. However, it is a great field to be in. Software development is big business.

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As such, if you are thinking about setting up a small business and you want to work as a freelancer, you might consider the job of a software developer. A lot of tech businesses are off limits if you don’t have a wealth of educational experience. But, that’s not the case here. You can become a software developer even if you don’t have a degree.

Learn A Language

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Nope, I’m not talking about French or German here. A lot of software developers and programmers will tell you working with code is a lot like learning a new language. While there are many programming languages that you can learn, you should probably start with just one. That could be Ruby on Rails or MEAN stack. That might sound like gibberish right now, but with a little research, you’ll soon understand. The language you choose will depend on what you are trying to create. For instance, you might be developing your own website for your business. That’s a little different compared to creating data management software.

Since Ruby on Rails is open source, you’ll be able to use a whole variety of different tools as you learn the basics. If you’re learning to code from scratch, buy a book. Don’t settle for picking and selecting tips online. It’s far easier if you have an open book with all the info you need. Of course you can supplement that with online tutorials and examples.

 

Don’t Give Up

Coding isn’t something that you can learn overnight. It takes a lot of time and energy. And unlike my story above where I decided that it was not for me and gave up, you need to decide to stick to it to be good. You’ll need to spend roughly ten thousand hours studying before you can code without assistance. It sounds like a big waste of time, doesn’t it? But just think, after you’ve learned how to code you’ll be able to create your own software! Most people get the basics down within a few months of study. But it does depend on how much time you’re willing to commit. If you are working while learning to code, you’re going to find it incredibly difficult. I suggest you sign up for some coding lessons and take some time off for training. Don’t forget; you’re working towards the final result of setting up your own small business or freelancing operation. Or, you may be working towards a promotion at work.

 

Get the Right Tools

A developer is only as good as their tech. Do some research and get the right tools. That’s why you will need to purchase some of the best software and devices on the market. You’ll need things like a USB protocol analyzer. This is a vital tool, and without it, you can’t optimize your software, once it’s in the final stages of development. You will need this to monitor signals to and from your computer when your software is running.

 

Be a Copycat (Not Really)

One of the best ways to learn what a piece of code does is by example. You can check out other people’s code, not to copy them, but so that you can learn. Find some sample code of the web, see what it does, then examine the code to learn which pieces of code lead to the action. You can also pick apart code and look for issues. By doing this, you’ll learn the basics of debugging. That’s going to be important when you start using our software in the real world. You will need those troubleshooting skills to support your clients.

 

Find Your Footing

Consider joining a community of software developers and coders. As you might have guessed, the best place to start looking for this type of community is online. Something like learn-verified could be very helpful to you. You’ll be able to rely on other software developers for support. If there is an issue with your coding, they will be able to help you fix it. You won’t have to spend hours or even days wandering alone in the dark looking for the wrong code.

 

Do you want to know the best part of this business path? There’s no need for a degree. While some jobs in professional settings may require a degree, if you can get the right skills, you can get started as a freelance programmer. This is a real option if you are serious about making your name in the tech industry.

Kris McDonald is Chicago mom to 2 sets of twins, photography nut, gadget addict, travel addict, and tech blogger who has worked in IT for over 16 years. Kris figured out a while ago that she was destined to be really busy (hence the 2 sets of twins), and she has found peace with that. Read More