Launching Your Code Career: First Steps to Becoming a Software Engineer

Can you be a software developer without a degree? Absolutely. Software engineering is a wide field that comprises software development, testing, maintenance, requirements engineering, software quality assurance, DevOps, software architecture, and cybersecurity. The list is inexhaustive. A software engineer’s career path typically involves a computer science degree, hands-on experience, certifications, networking, and continuous learning. This article delves into software engineering, the nuances of each sub-field, and how to become a software engineer without a degree.  

Software Engineer Career Path

Before delving into the software engineering career path, we must explore some essential sub-fields. 

Software development

Software developers create computer programs and applications for industries to solve specific problems or offer particular solutions. Software development is vast, as it involves writing codes, testing, and maintaining software programs using tools like Integrated Development Environments, version control systems, and frameworks. 

General Programming Languages and Frameworks for Software Development

  1. Core programming languages: Python, Java, Javascript, C#, and C++.
  2. Framework for web development: Django (Python), Ruby on Rails (Rby), Express.js (Javascript), and Spring Boot for Java. 
  3. Front-end development: React, Angular, and Vue.js.
  4. R., TensorFlow, and PyTorch for data analysis and statistical computing.
  5. Git, Docker, and Jenkins (All developer tools).
  6. SQL, NoSQL database, and APIs.
  7. Cloud platforms (Azure, Google Cloud, and AWS). 

Software testing

Software testing or quality assurance is a sub-field of software engineering where engineers use automated testing tools like automation and test management frameworks and bug tracking software to ensure software’s reliability and purposed functionality. Software testing can be automated during the software development stage and post-development. 

Essential software testing tools include Jira and TestRail for test management, Selenium and Appium for test automation, JUnit for Java testing, Apache JMeter and LoadRunner for load testing, Postman and SoapUI for API testing, OWASP ZAP and Burp Suite for security testing, Jenkins and Travis CI for CI/CD, and Bugzilla and YouTrack for bug tracking.

Software maintenance

Software maintenance involves everything done post-deployment to ensure the reliability of software in varying conditions. It may include fixing bugs, optimizing performance, scaling the software, and installing security patches. When you download an application or software and receive a message to update it, that’s maintenance. Software owners consistently fix bugs and add security patches to ensure the software works perfectly. They may also add new features. 

Software maintenance uses different tools to keep the software working well. Like Git for keeping track of changes, Jira and Bugzilla for fixing bugs, Jenkins and Travis CI for testing and deploying software, New Relic for checking performance, OWASP ZAP for finding security issues, Confluence for writing stuff down, and Ansible, Chef, and Puppet for managing how software gets put into action. Each tool helps make sure software stays good and meets people’s needs.

Other essential subfields include quality assurance, software architecture, software security, requirements engineering, and more. It’s important to consider all the subfields and choose the one that most resonates with your passion. 

Software Engineering Roadmap

Let’s explore the software engineer roadmap and answer the question: Do you need a degree to be a software engineer? 

Education: A degree in CS (computer science), computer engineering, data science, cybersecurity, and software architecture puts you well on your way to becoming a software engineer. Before you choose your discipline, consider the roles you want to handle as a professional. 

Certifications: While education is essential, getting certifications is just as important. For example, AWS DevOps engineers must pass the different levels of AWS certifications before any reasonable firm will hire them for AWS-focussed DevOps tasks. If you are young and have financial support, you can get a degree; however, if you want to become a software engineer quickly, certifications give you specialized training in highly specialized services. This answers the question of becoming a software engineer without a degree. 

Hands-on experience: Work on projects to gain hands-on software engineering experience. After certification, hands-on experience is crucial to learning software engineering tools, frameworks, and methodologies. If you are searching for how to get into software engineering without a degree, hands-on experience remains a crucial answer. 

Others:Network with other software engineers, join community forums, attend webinars, seminars, and workshops, and participate in software engineering competitions.

How to Become a Software Engineer Without a Degree

Can you become a software engineer without a degree? Yes, for sure, but you must focus on hands-on experience and certifications. While certifications tell potential employers that you are a professional, hands-on experience, shows potential employers that you are an expert within the subfield of software engineering. Degrees are great, but you can always delve into software engineering without one.


This article focused on the nuances of software engineering. We explored some of its subfields, including software development, testing, architecture, maintenance, cybersecurity, quality assurance, and more. To become a software engineer, you must choose a sub-field, take courses on the subfield and pursue relevant certifications, gain hands-on experience by delivering services in real-world scenarios, and build your network. We also discussed how to become a software engineer without a degree. Do you think software developers with degrees are always better than developers without degree? 

Author: Gregory Swenson

Gregory is an experienced IT professional with a knack for solving complex tech challenges. With over a decade in software development and technology consulting, he shares his insights and expertise through articles to help others navigate the IT landscape.

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