In this article I want to talk about a topic that has been coming up a lot recently. Most of you have been asking how can I break into software development profession if I don’t have a computer science degree. Let’s say your academia background is in accounting or finance or you graduated with a journalism degree or a history degree. Is it possible for a student with that educational background to break into software development career?
The answer is absolutely.
Just the number of jobs out there that are exploding every single day. There’s so much demand and not enough supply. So, in an environment like that it’s certainly possible. In fact, I’m a personal living example of someone that does not have a computer science degree but was able to acquire those skills with just three months of self-study.
If you acquire the right skills there are plenty of jobs out there and currently there are so many opportunities. So many different areas to get into. I’m going to highlight some of these things and hopefully give you a good understanding of the overall landscape of IT and what you can do to break into software development career.
In my opinion there are three major areas in IT that you can focus on. It’s hard to focus on all three of these areas at the same time.
Let’s start with the first elephant in the room. The obvious path and that is a software developer. In my opinion software dev track is a challenging track for someone that does not have a computer science degree because it requires you to know a couple of different programming languages.
Maybe one or two. The most popular ones are Java and Python. Another very popular one is PHP. Then you would also need some understanding of the overall landscape of technology. You will need to understand backend and frontend.
As you can see the breadth of knowledge for this path is pretty wide. You’d need to know a lot of things. So, if you would like to get into the software development path but you’re not a computer science major I would recommend to start on a different path. This could be your eventual destination or goal.
For example, I started from a different area in technology and then I transitioned into this area over time. You could do the same thing too.
In my opinion if you don’t have a computer science background it will take about two years of hard work to learn this stuff on your own. And then hopefully be in a position to land a job. Coding boot camps is also a great option but you need to have some prerequisite knowledge in some of the areas.
A better track for someone that doesn’t have a computer science degree in my opinion is the database track. The reason for this is because this is a focused area in technology and data is key in very company. It’s one of the largest assets every company has. Very important especially with what’s going on nowadays with large companies.
So what you can do is become a database expert in a language called SQL. This language is the primary language used to interact with databases. So, you just need to learn one language and the good this it’s not even a programming language so to speak. It’s actually a data interaction language.
There’s are some great online courses on this topic that you can take. After completing one of them you should be in pretty good shape with the SQL language. Along with the SQL language you can also learn a reporting tool such as tableau. There are so many job openings with tableau and data analysis.
With this combination of the SQL and tableau you’re employable. You might be asking how long does this track take? For someone that can invest six hours a day every day for about three months. That’s what that’s required. So, three months I’d say give two months for SQL and invest six hours a day every day into the language.
Master that technology and then learn maybe for one month invest in tableau. And with those two technologies you’re employable. Believe it or not a lot of people are doing this. You don’t need a computer science degree for this. This in my opinion is the lowest barrier of entry into software developer profession.
Eventually once you’re comfortable here you can always transition to the software developer field. A lot of people do this including myself and so many people that I’ve seen. So, becoming a developer could be your eventual destination if you want to build mobile apps, website and desktop applications.
You can learn to do that on the weekends when you’re already employed. Don’t graduate college and sit for one year trying to learn software development. Get your foot in the door after three months of practice. Get your foot in the door in a database developer role.
Because guess what? You’re still a developer you. You could be developing reports and using the SQL language and then slowly transition into software development.
So, two paths so far. The third path is the admin path. This is also a great and lucrative field but in my opinion it’s for countries like India or basically any country that is not the United States or Canada. The reason being the Unites States and Canada outsource administrator jobs. The hottest topic within this domain is AWS. You could choose Amazon Web Services and take maybe a year to get really comfortable with because there’s a lot of new development that’s going on in AWS. What you should understand is that you need to have a certain breadth of knowledge and this will take time to learn.
But it’s very lucrative career and you know there’s plenty of opportunities there. In my opinion if you’re in the US this is probably the fastest way to get your foot in the door and probably the most lucrative way.
As soon as you graduate college, three months of hard work in this area can land you a well-paying job well over 78,000 dollars. After two or three years you can transition your preferred career paths.