There are more than 24 million software developers in the world. With skills ranging from creative thinking to practical application, software developers are becoming increasingly important to companies across the nation and around the world. This is especially true as digital transformation continues to grow.
If you want to enter the world of software development, you’re going to do so knowing that there is already a community of well-prepared professionals for you to learn from.
But, there is more to becoming a software developer than simply deciding to apply. You need a plan.
That’s why we’ve compiled everything you need to know about how to become a software developer right here. Just keep reading.
1. Lay Out Your Goals
You may be wondering how this is relevant. You’re here because your end goal is to become a software developer, right?
Well, you should dive deeper than that.
Yes, you want to get into software development. But, what are your goals within that position?
Is there a specific school you want to go to or a company you’d like to work for? Do you want to start your own company with partners or work for yourself?
Are you interested in the money or focused on the developer skills you’ll learn?
Before you hit the books, we suggest that you write down three goals that you want to meet within the next few years. These can relate to the questions that we’ve presented or they can relate to other concerns that you have about your upcoming career in software development.
It’s also helpful to define your ‘why’ before jumping in. Write the reason(s) why you’re pursuing this career. You can keep this piece of paper in your desk, your wallet, or somewhere else where you’ll see it often.
Those reasons will get you through the tough days and nights. You’ll appreciate having the reminder, especially if you’re struggling through software development courses.
2. Choose Your Software Languages
Most software development programs focus on multiple software languages, like those in the following list:
Some software professionals focus on one or a few of these languages while others pride themselves on knowing all languages. There are advantages and disadvantages to both specializing and generalizing. And, you should choose whether you want to specialize or generalize before you start your career in software development.
If you’re wondering which languages are the best to learn, there are no answers. No one company or person has made a designation on the best language.
As with most things, you’ll find pros and cons to each language. However, you may find it useful to master languages that are tougher for others to learn. The more you know about more difficult languages, the more earning potential you’ll have.
3. Earn Your Degree
If you don’t have one already, you should work toward a degree in computer science or a related field like cybersecurity. And, if you’re looking to turn this into a full-time career, you need to have at least a Bachelors degree.
It will also be helpful to pick up experience along the way. If your school offers internships, jobs, or similar opportunities related to computer science, you should take advantage of them.
Future employers would find the practical application of these topics useful. In fact, it may be the difference between you getting a job or not. So, you should always take experience over theoretics.
With that, you still need to study hard in the classroom. Your future job opportunities may retrain you, but they won’t expect to have to teach you everything. That is why you’ll focus on the theoretics in class.
Then, when you get a job, you can learn the languages and strategies of that particular company.
4. Reach Further
Your basic studies are great if you want to catch up with other applicants. Your degree will be just as impressive as theirs.
However, if you want to stand out amongst the other applicants, you need to reach further. This means that you need to supplement all of the studies that you’re doing in school.
Of course, we hope that you’re applying yourself to those extra internships and job opportunities. But, if you want to learn more, you should also open yourself up to other learning opportunities.
You can use online resources like StackOverflow, CodinGame, and CodeWars to learn more about coding. Plus, you’ll learn some great skills that you can add to your resume.
Overall, you want to soak in as many experiences and opportunities as you can, even if your only opportunities lie with these online resources.
5. Learn From Others
You never want to be the smartest person in the room. If you’re the smartest one, you won’t be able to learn from others.
So, you want to make sure that you’re constantly surrounding yourself with people who will teach you about more than you already know.
And, no, we don’t mean that you should simply sit in class and hope that you absorb the information.
When you’re in class or participating in extracurricular activities, you should take advantage of the minds around you. Your computer science professors, mentors, and classmates may have more to offer you than you can figure for yourself. Ask for answers and explanations.
There is always something that you can ask and learn more about.
This is the time for you to soak in all of the experiences that you can. Whether it’s theoretical or practical, you can use this knowledge to your advantage later in life.
Also, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask about more advanced topics. If you’re finding your current class less than challenging, you can ask the professor higher-level questions. They’re most likely going to take the time to explain, even if it isn’t in the current curriculum.
It may also be worth it to drop by during office hours to ask about any research projects or code that they’re working on. Looking at professional code such as theirs can help you learn more about coding.
6. Build a Community
As you’re studying more and meeting more people, you should begin building a trustworthy, experienced community. By building relationships with your professors and meeting fellow students, you’ll build a network of professionals who may be able to help you in the future.
In other words, you should be building a community of professionals who can help one another while learning, growing, and working.
Some college study groups turn their study time into professional relationships. You can start a group chat, a Facebook group, or even an Instagram page dedicated to helping these individuals help one another. At the same time, it could help you.
Members can invite others to the network. They may post job opportunities, professional inquiries, networking events, and more.
By bringing together these professionals, you’re creating a large network for yourself and other professionals to lean on throughout their lifetimes. You never know when the job of your dreams could pop up.
7. Sell Yourself
Now that you’ve gotten all of your practical skills out of the way, it’s time to better yourself for the job interview. You can speak code, write code, and read code. But, can you translate these experiences to a company in need of your assistance?
The way that you go about this is going to be different depending on your place in the market. However, you’re going to have to sell your skills whether you’re looking to work for yourself or someone else.
You have something to prove.
Master interview skills and take the time to perfect your cover letter and resume. You should also be mindful that the companies that you’re looking to work for or with may also take a look at any social media profiles that you have. So, you should take the time to sift through those posts that you’ve made in the past.
Otherwise, you should be prepared to answer questions and statements like, “tell me a little bit about yourself,” or, “why should we hire you?” These kinds of interview tactics may be frustrating for you, but they’re a great way for the company to know more about you in an open-ended way.
Overall, remember to go back to your ‘why.’ This is going to be the basis for your entire software development career and it’s a great topic of conversation during your interview.
In the end, you should stay true to your accomplishments, beliefs, honors, and experiences. Talk about yourself humbly and let the company see all that you can do with their support.
It’s Time to Become a Software Developer
Now that you know everything you need to know about how to become a software developer, it’s time to put your skills to the test. Find programs near you and get learning. You’re not getting any younger.
No matter how far you are into your current career, you now have the chance to try something new and exciting.
And, if you’re looking for other new and exciting things, head right back here for more learning content.