How To Be a Software Developer Without a College Degree

“How to be a software developer without a computer science degree” is one common question being asked by many people. Regardless of what you might have heard before, all it takes is passion and commitment. That being said however, there are a few other things that you should do to reach your goal.

how to become a software developer without cs degree

The question is : can I become software developer without a cs degree? The simplest answer is an astounding YES. Here are a few steps you need to take to be one.

How To Be a Software Developer Without a CS Degree

  1. Make a decision – Yeah, seriously. Deciding on something is not as easy as it may sound. The other worst thing is regretting after investing both time and money on something you really don’t like. So, once again, be sure that you want to be a computer programmer. After that, the sky could be the limit!
  2. Choose a programming language – In order for you to write code, you need to understand at least one language, the more the better! By learning the ins and out of a particular language like Python or C++ , you empower yourself with the necessary tools of trade.
  3. Practice, practice and practice – A few days ago, I wrote Learn How To Program in 21 days – NOT and it generated a lot of reactions on Reddit. The point of the whole thing is simple; if you want to be good at something, you have to do it over and over and over again. Make mistakes, find solutions, and repeat! The good thing is this: we all start somewhere.
  4. Open Source and Own Projects – I cannot stress this enough! Most companies specializing in Software are obsessed with Experience! Unless you are a rock star – which most of us aren’t. Instead of asking yourself how they expect you to have experience when you are looking for your first programming job, beat them by taking part in open source projects and most certainly, your own projects if you can. You need something to show them that you are capable. You have a better chance if you can show them your portfolio than a fresh college graduate who has none.
  5. Networking – If this sounds familiar, it is because I have mentioned it before under What to do after college and without a job. You could have the coolest resume in town and keep wondering why you don’t land the best jobs. I believe networking is more of people skills than anything in between. This should start in college but if you didn’t go to college, you can still catch up through LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and most importantly, local meetups and events. This also requires good communication. Listen to people in the industry. Subscribe to their blogs. Talk to them. There is a good chance that one of them will refer you when you are looking for a job. You just never know!

Those are the five most important things you should do if you want to become a software developer without a cs degree. Today, you must be competitive and be willing to work a little harder in order to get what you want. It is still advisable to earn a degree because you learn more from college professors and meet friends who could be potential startup buddies.

Not having a cs degree doesn’t have to stop you from being a software developer. You are, without doubt, the only one who can stop yourself. So, without much ado, go forth. Start your new career with confidence knowing that the future is brighter. Good luck.

NOTE: This is not an exhaustive list on how to be a software developer. If you would like to add more ideas, please leave me a comment below.

Finally, if you liked this post, please share it with your friends online using the buttons below. Thank you!

Written By Elisha Chirchir

Elisha Chirchir is a software developer. He is also the founder of Simple Developer and co-founder of Instinctive Software Solutions. On any given day, he works on both Android and Web Development. During his 'free time', he offers training to those interested in learning how to code in php, java, python, javaScript etc. You can easily find him on StackOverflow Android chatroom or on Twitter @Eenvincible

36 Comments on “How To Be a Software Developer Without a College Degree

  1. […] for more info – “How To Be a Software Developer Without a CS Degree“ […]

  2. Sadaqat Ali Reply

    August 5, 2013 at 9:49

    A good topic explained . many people think that can not be done any thing without an cs college degree i know many guys who know only one language and doing job in software houses

    • Elisha Chirchir Reply

      August 5, 2013 at 2:33

      Thank you for stopping by and also for the comment. Today, many people have discovered that you can teach yourself so much without spending thousands of dollars or (currency here). It is all about dedication and passion!

  3. ecaps24 Reply

    August 12, 2013 at 3:43

    Nice read. I am a Business Analyst in an international company. I do VBA codes and MySQL. I watch videos on and I’m about to finish their 10 day course. What do you think I’m gonna do next?

    • Elisha Chirchir Reply

      August 12, 2013 at 4:59

      First, thank you for visiting my blog! I think the answer to your questions lies in the question “What do you want to know or achieve?”

      I am saying this because I don’t think you have the luxury of time here to learn things without a need for them. For example, if you want to be part of a web application project, and your team members are using Python, then I would suggest you learn Python. If you want to work in the front-end, learn JavaScript, CSS3 and HTML5.

      So, in other words, it totally depends on what area of specialization you want to focus on. But you won’t go wrong with JavaScript, Python, CSS, CSS3, HTML5 and such.

      Good luck!

  4. Dickson Reply

    January 18, 2014 at 7:37

    Good advice, i have passion for programming and i want to do an online degree Information systems Management in London school of economics, from you write up i am encouraged to start programming before the course, i have some questions i will like you to advice me on

    1. Which language do you advice me to start with as a novice

    2. Must i be good at maths before i start programming?

    i will be Glad if you respond on time.

    • Elisha Chirchir Reply

      January 18, 2014 at 6:43

      Thanks for visiting. Now the answers to your questions:

      1. Which language should you start with as a novice?

      This is a tough one but it really depends on what you like most once you have started playing around with programming. I advice you to start Python because it is very well-written, has a huge community support and it is easier to learn than many other languages. So, if I were you, I would start with Python and then learn a few more languages once you have a good grip on the programming concepts. If you understand how to program, then the language issue goes away – you will discover that all you will need thereafter is to learn the slight differences in syntax between one language and another. Good luck.

      2. Must I be good at Math?
      Most certainly not. You don’t have to be a math major or genius to be a good programmer; Of course being good at Math will help you when using algorithms and such as a software engineer but trust me, don’t let Math stop you from being a programmer – it is a lot of fun!

      That being said though, remember to attend all your Math classes if you have them and learn problem solving skills as well as people skills. Without those, you are in for a surprise!

      Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  5. James Yepez Reply

    February 6, 2014 at 3:18

    Great post man!
    I recently started watching some videos on software development and I’m going to follow that career route. My question to you is:
    Are the any certifications that you can get as a Software Developer that will separate you from the rest?

    I know that Microsoft has some certification you can take but I dont really know much detail about it.


    • Elisha Chirchir Reply

      April 1, 2014 at 1:51

      Honestly, some companies will ask for certifications while hiring and others won’t. If you want to get certified, it truly depends on which area of expertise you want to be recognized for: Like if you are a Java developer, you should be getting Java certifications (different levels exist) and if you are a security expert, you should be looking into security and such! I hope this helped

  6. uday Reply

    April 1, 2014 at 1:08

    I am B E mech having my own coaching classes
    Now I want to become a software expert without joining a college.
    Please guide

    • Elisha Chirchir Reply

      April 1, 2014 at 1:49

      Can you start with what I listed above? Pick a language like Java or Ruby or Python and find a tutorial on Google and start programming and when you have questions, just ask them on StackOverflow website.

      If you have any further questions, please ask me!

  7. Hizbullah Reply

    May 18, 2014 at 6:52

    Elisha Chirchir

    I asked some questions from you
    -How I become software engineer
    -i am from very poor family
    -i have no resources to study in college to become software engineer
    but I hope from God in future I become software engineer
    -this is my desire
    But how I become to software engineer
    can you help me dear.

    • Elisha Chirchir Reply

      May 19, 2014 at 1:51

      You only need an internet connection or a library to start with that has programming books and of course a computer that can allow you to program in.

      Read tutorials – follow the instructions above; there is not mystery to it.

      If you have any further questions, please contact me.

      • Suraj Reply

        June 19, 2014 at 11:09

        Sir i am bsc computer science student doing my graduation in india it is my great ambition to be software engineer can i be software engineer in abroad after this bsc pls reply me

        • Elisha Chirchir Reply

          June 19, 2014 at 1:56

          I cannot tell you whether you will be a software engineer abroad or not; what I can tell you is that you can use websites like to get jobs online for clients all over the world – if that is what you were asking me about. Once you have the skills, you should be able to do anything you need. Good luck and thank you for visiting.

    • shubhamgupta Reply

      June 18, 2014 at 4:03

      my thinking is also same that i want to be a software engineer

      • Elisha Chirchir Reply

        June 20, 2014 at 5:17

        Are you learning skills that will help you be a software engineer?

  8. Suraj Reply

    June 19, 2014 at 11:06

    Sir i am bsc computer science student doing my graduation in india it is my great ambition to be software engineer can i be software engineer in abroad after this bsc pls reply me

  9. Suraj Reply

    June 21, 2014 at 8:17

    Thanks for the advice sir and sir my i know what are the job available for bsc computer science student my great ambition is to become a software engineer but i don’t know whether i reach my destination with this bsc should i need do any diploma course to acheive this i am an below midle family there is no investment more for me so i think i can get an expert advice from you what do next

  10. Crome Reply

    July 5, 2014 at 1:23

    Hi elisha,

    Currently, I am in a life crisis. I was studying biotechnology at my university, but due to issues with my nationality and stuff I have to move to another university and the 2 years I spent studying this career are going to be recorded as unofficial. In other words, I have to start all over again. In my time here I saw very basic programming classes with raptor and Python. I was good at it and both languages caught my attention to go into software development.

    Now I am in a position where I have to decide whether to start studying Biotech all over again or software development. Could you pls help me making a decision? What are some realistic pros and cons of software development. How independent can I be with it and How much do you see it growing in the next years?

    • Elisha Chirchir Reply

      July 6, 2014 at 1:41

      I can only tell you what I know about it; the final decision belongs to you – which will depend entirely on your current situation. Software Development is not going anywhere any time soon. So, if you are confident and passionate about it, I say go head and start learning if you have not started already. Once you have enough experience, you can go solo – meaning you can start your own business as a consultant or something close to that. Again, most of these things will depend on where you are and what you really are capable of. Good luck and I hope you make a better decision.

  11. Kumar Reply

    July 17, 2014 at 8:20

    I have been working in automated software testing for the last 6 years. I want to be a software developer and my line of interest is RESTful Webservices using JAVA. I am really passionate about it but the problem is that no one is willing to help me in learning. I am willing to do it in my own time but really dont know how? Can you please suggest how can I develop/learn something which could help in achieving my dream?

    • Elisha Chirchir Reply

      July 19, 2014 at 6:20

      I get this question a lot and one answer I always give is this: find a problem – there are millions of problems; solve it and then move on from there to advanced stuff. When you are stuck, ask someone online for help. There are very many nice people online. Heck, you can ask me too! Only when you are stuck of course. Good luck.

  12. Nameyay Reply

    March 17, 2015 at 4:08

    Nice article, but I find your use of the bold attribute atrocious. Replace with italics tag maybe?

  13. MRA Reply

    May 10, 2015 at 10:01

    I LOVE You Answer Elisha Chirchir And Thank You I was searching the Question Answer
    I got the Answer here and Perfect Answer

    How can I contact You Sir ? any Email Or skype or ….

  14. Bhum Jit Reply

    August 22, 2015 at 3:30

    I am a student and I have passed my 12. after these I have taken admission in bsc IT but I dropped it after 2nd semester and similarly readmission in BCA …and also want to dropped it. because I am boy with passion in programming but I really hate theory …I just love computer programing …and Dont want to do degree anymore…can you suggest me some basics ..and tell me that I will be eligible for company job without degree or not?

  15. Paul Reply

    December 19, 2015 at 1:01

    Good day sir, I’m very inspired by your article. I am an accountant looking to make a career shift into software development. I’m very new to the I.T world and have been googling ways to proceed for days. A community college In my area offers an associate degree in computer programming and I’m considering enrolling, but after reading your article I’m now wondering if I should. What would be your best advice for making the career shift? I look forward to advice. Thanks in advance.

    • Elisha Chirchir Reply

      December 19, 2015 at 10:58

      For a headstart, go ahead and enroll in that program but most important, start learning on your own over the internet! You can always find me on Google+ so we can chat some more! Elisha Chirchir is my full names!

  16. Paul Reply

    December 19, 2015 at 9:18

    What jobs do you think an associate degree in software development would land me

    • Elisha Chirchir Reply

      December 19, 2015 at 9:26

      Pretty much any job in the industry as long as you can do the job.

  17. onkar ghodake Reply

    June 18, 2016 at 8:26

    I also want to learn all computer languages. After that can i get the job,
    or what should i do for that?

  18. Marcus Tomlinson Reply

    June 23, 2016 at 6:43

    Great article! Brilliant advice to those wanting to enter the software industry. In fact, I just wrote a book on this very topic! You took the words right out of my mouth 😉

    The aim of my book is to introduce people to the world of free and open source software development as a means of acquiring new skills and gaining focused, real world work experience.

    It’s called: “How to Become an Expert Software Engineer (and Get Any Job You Want)”. I’d love to hear what you thought of it.

  19. olusegun Reply

    November 1, 2016 at 7:26

    i really appreciate your advice, i’m a novice but i hava passion to be a software developer but as a poor african boy, is there any way you can be of help, i mean teach me online and recommend some books for me. thaks

  20. vatsal mandaliya Reply

    December 17, 2017 at 3:42

    can a blind person become a software engineer?

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