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In this article, I’m going to share some of my personal experience of transitioning into software development.When I started, I had zero experience and zero coding knowledge. I’m going to show you how you can do it too.

What does a software developer do?

Software developers are behind every computer/mobile program and application out there. They design, develop, test, maintain, and fix bugs in everything, from banking apps to the calculator program on your computer.

A day in the life of a software developer consists of:

  • Analyzing data and talking with users to understand their needs.
  • Designing and coding software from scratch or implementing new features for existing software.
  • Performing maintenance and fixing bugs, in order to keep the software updated and in pace with the needs of users.
  • Writing documentation, such as manuals for clients, or simply to state how things were done in order to help future collaborators.

How to become a software developer?

There are 3 paths to becoming a software developer from scratch: self-study, bootcamps, and degree programs. Each of these has its pros and cons, so it’s up to you to decide what fits best for you.

The self-taught path

Being able to learn by yourself is a skill that all programmers should have. With that being said, the self-taught path is usually chosen by people with limited time and/or financial resources. These are the pros and cons:

Pros

  • You can manage your own time, studying according to your own schedule.
  • There are an infinite amount of free online materials. So, in order to start, all you’ll need is an internet connection.

Cons

  • Because you don’t have anyone to hold you accountable, it can be hard to be consistent in your studies.
  • It can be lonely. Of course there are online forums and study groups, but they are not always easily accessible. Nor do they necessarily consist of people that are actually willing to grow together.
  • Because there are an infinite amount of free online materials available, it can be overwhelming to pick one thing and stick to it. 

Software bootcamp/online schools path

Unlike in the self-taught path, with software bootcamps you will probably have a study schedule with a defined curriculum.

Pros

  • They are affordable. Some online schools, such as Microverse, even offer the possibility to study first and only pay for it whenever you land a job!
  • Teach with modern examples and hands-on projects, instead of outdated books.
  • Learn from home (or wherever you prefer). Because you don’t have to attend physical classes, you can choose to learn anywhere you feel the most productive.

Cons

  • They are not as flexible as the self-taught path. This means that you are going to commit to a certain schedule.
  • Because you have a strict schedule, most of the time you won’t be able to have a full-time job and study at the same time.

University degree path

In this path, you will learn more than just coding. Your course will include math, algebra, hardware, and other fundamental industry skills. 

Pros

  • You will get an in-depth knowledge of several different coding languages.
  • Traditional teaching style with classes, teachers, grades, and group projects to keep yourself accountable.

Cons

  • It will take a long time! Most degrees will take from 4 up to 6 years, and sometimes the technologies taught are outdated.
  • You will make a big investment. In the USA a bachelor's degree in computer science costs an average of US$51,900.
  • Even though this is changing now, most colleges still have most of their curriculum as in-person classes.
Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Is it possible to become a software developer without a degree? 

A large portion of jobs in tech do NOT require a degree. Major tech companies such as Google, Apple, and IBM no longer require employees to have a college degree. 

The most recent Stack Overflow developer survey showed that about 27% of the developers don’t hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. That same survey also displayed that almost 60% of respondents learned how to code from online resources.

My personal experience

I am a former lawyer. I joined Microverse in late 2020 and, before even graduating, I was offered a part-time job as a web developer. 

There are 2 things that are worth mentioning about my own experience. First, before joining the program, I had no actual coding experience. Second, I had both work and internship experience in law.

At Microverse, I not only gained technical knowledge, learning languages such as JavaScript and Ruby, but also developed a lot of my soft skills. Because we learn how to code with practical projects and pair programming with other students from all over the world, it is inevitable that our communication skills improve.

Being a developer is more than simply writing code, and most companies know that. A  strong interpersonal skill set is highly valued by recruiters. This is why any other experience you have outside of tech is completely valid.

In my case, my law background enhanced my ability to translate technical matters in a way that even a layman can understand. It also improved my competence to understand my client's needs and come up with better solutions, as well as balancing their expectations according to the possible outcomes.

Even if I was a developer with many years of experience, with high interpersonal competence, I probably wouldn’t be able to land a job if I wasn’t connected to the right people and able to showcase all of my potentials.

My point is that, in order to land a job, not only do you need to possess the desirable skills. You also need to have a network of contacts, and a strong online presence. Did you know that 95% of recruiters are on LinkedIn? Microverse has helped me to build an attractive profile, in addition to a valuable resume.

Why transition to tech?

Photo by Safar Safarov on Unsplash

There are a lot of jobs!

Tech is a fast-growing industry with an estimated 178,000 new jobs in the USA for 2022. Further, the tech industry is fourth on the list of sectors that have the highest projected employment gains, behind only health care, technical services, and transportation. 

Those numbers aren’t exclusive to the USA, as you can see the same growth pattern in LatAm, the UK, and the EU.

It isn’t all about coding

If whenever you think about tech, all you can think about are technical jobs, think again. Over 40% of the jobs posted by technology companies are non-tech jobs. The most common are account executives, sales representatives, and marketing-related.

Within tech jobs, if you are not interested in coding, but still want to be in the field, some positions, like project manager, value soft skills (such as communication and commitment), over hard coding skills.

No special license required

As mentioned before, unlike other fields, such as medicine and law, you are not required to have a degree or to be a member of a special practice register to work in tech. This means that, with some practice, anyone can become a software developer.

Take your first steps into your software development career

As the world of technology continues to grow, we need more individuals who are willing to change careers and learn new skills to fill the increasing demand for labor in the sector. If you are seeking opportunities in software development, apply to Microverse. You will be equipped with all the skills you need to change your career and take it to the next level!

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