“Although many have decided to go this process alone, the fundamental knowledge and understanding that you’ll develop in a Computer Science or Software Development program will help you continue to grow throughout your career.”
Why Start a Career in Software Development?
Great pay, low unemployment, and the ability to express yourself creatively. These are just a few of the reasons why Software Development is a great career choice.
In fact, U.S. News and World Report ‘s “Best Jobs Rankings” named Software Developer as the top job in the United States, last year.
But, if you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you don’t need any convincing. You’re likely determined to start your career in Software Development; you just need to know how to move forward.
Today, we’ll list some top tips for starting your career in Software Development and what skills you’ll need to succeed.
#1: Learn to Code
As a software developer, you’ll “eat, breathe, and sleep” code on a regular basis. Without a beginner’s knowledge of programming, you’ll have a difficult time performing your daily tasks and completing projects in a timely manner.
Attempting to begin a Software Development career without any previous experience in programming is similar to beginning as a writer without a solid foundation in spelling or grammar.
From there, you can spend your free time learning more complex languages like Java, Python, and C#. One overlooked aspect of modern programming languages is that many of them are derived from C.
As a result, many share similar structures and syntax. To illustrate, learning a programming language is like learning a Romance language.
By learning Spanish or Italian, you’ll have an easier time picking up French or Portuguese due to similar grammar and vocabulary (programming languages aren’t that similar, but you get the idea). The same goes for learning Java and C#, or Python and Ruby, respectively.
#2: Learn All Kinds of Programming Languages
In addition to learning how to code, it’s important to learn a wide variety of languages and avoid getting “pigeon-holed” in a few niche languages from the start.
The field of Software Development is extremely broad and can lead to job opportunities in a variety of settings. For example, you may start out with a focus on Android development and then transition to making desktop apps for macOS.
Dabbling with multiple programming languages and learning a little bit of everything can help you stay flexible, which will open up doors in other areas.
To provide yourself with the greatest number of opportunities, it’s good to learn multi-platform programming languages like Swift, C#, and Java.
By knowing how to program in Swift, you can become a software developer for all Apple products, including Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
With C#, you can program for just about any Microsoft product, including their .NET framework, and the Xbox. And, with Java, you can program for Android and build web applications.
#3: Do Projects & Build Your Portfolio
Software Development is primarily skill-based, meaning that your portfolio is just as useful as a degree. When you apply for jobs, employers will want to see proof that you can do the job—not just a paper resume.
Before you graduate from a Computer Science or Software Development program, it’s paramount that you work on DIY projects and start building your portfolio.
Many professional software developers host their portfolios on websites like GitHub, where they can upload their code and share it with others.
Web developers have the upper hand in this regard since their work can be viewed in a browser. If you create a cool website, for example, all you have to do is share the URL with a recruiter or employer!
#4: Join Online Communities
Software developers make up some of the largest communities on the Internet. Wherever you look, you can find hundreds of online forums and websites dedicated to programming-related topics, including career advice and technical support.
If you’re struggling with a line of code or can’t figure out why your script won’t run, there’s a good chance you’ll find the answer online. Places like Reddit, StackOverflow, Quora, and GitHub are all great places to get advice when working on your next pet project.
#5: Enroll in a Program
Many programmers will tell you that a degree isn’t required to begin a career in Software Development. While this may be true at the beginning, the foundation that you develop in a Computer Science or Software Development program at a university will enable you to grow beyond just coding websites.
At one point or another, you’ll experience a gap in knowledge between what you know and what you’re expected to know. With the fundamental knowledge that a 4-year degree provides, you’ll be able to progress much further in your career than you would by just teaching yourself.
#6: Keep Learning
Books, online courses, YouTube videos, and even mobile apps can help you stay up to date with your skills. Since technology advances so quickly, you’ll need to constantly refresh your knowledge on a regular basis.
This can be quite expensive if you’re continuously re-enrolling in classes and buying new materials to catch up. If you graduate from a Powered by Woz U program, you can revisit our constantly updated coursework at any time you like—for life.
Yes, you heard that right: you get access to cutting-edge curriculum for a lifetime when you graduate from one of our partnering universities.
Software Development is surprisingly wide field, with many programming languages to learn. When starting your career in Software Development, it’s best to start with the basics and learn versatile programming languages like Java, Python, and C#.
As you progress further in your career, you can shift your focus to more niche languages that your particular job may require. And, since the majority of programming languages share a similar syntax, your third or fourth language will be that much easier to pick up.
Although many newer programmers have decided to go this process alone, the fundamental knowledge and understanding that you’ll develop in a Computer Science or Software Development program will help you continue to grow throughout your career.
And, while those who forgo a college education tend to stall mid-career, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to keep progressing.
If you’re serious about beginning your career in Software Development, visit our Software Development program page and learn how to get started.