how to become a software engineer (2023 Guide)
What Degree Do You Need to Become a Software Engineer?
BrainStation’s Software Engineer career guide is intended to help you take the first steps toward a career in software engineering. Read on for an overview of educational requirements for Software Engineers and whether you need a degree for a software engineering career.
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You don’t necessarily need a specific type of degree to become a Software Engineer – and a software engineering degree is certainly not a requirement – but most Software Developers and Engineers have at least a bachelor’s degree.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the best fields for anyone interested in becoming a Software Engineer are computer science, computer engineering, and software engineering, but any other bachelor’s degree programs related to computer systems or computer software should be enough to begin a software engineering career (of course, a master’s degree will always help you stand out in a job hunt, and many Software Engineers do have one).
But only four percent of the bachelor’s degrees conferred in the U.S. are in computer science, so there are many people pursuing work in software development with a different educational background.
And even a master’s degree in computer science might not be enough for an entry-level software engineering job if it isn’t paired with other technical training. Specifically, almost all jobs in software development require an understanding of computer programming, and very few formal degree programs will help you get any degree of offer programming experience.
To gain those real world skills essential to any job in software development, aspiring Software Engineers typically have to augment their formal education with online learning, tutorials, coding bootcamps, and more. As new programming languages and tools are introduced, Software Engineers are expected to continue pursuing these kinds of online education opportunities.
Is It Possible to Become a Developer Without a Degree?
It is possible to become a developer without a degree, but to get a job without at least a bachelor’s degree you would have to be able to demonstrate exceptional programming skills along with a proven track record in development.
Just as in a related field like web development or software development, your portfolio of projects will provide a lot of insight into who you are and that can sometimes be enough to persuade companies when looking at aspiring Software Developers that other job criteria (like a bachelor’s degree) aren’t quite as important.
Similarly, if you have valuable experience in fields related to software engineering, that could matter more than your educational background. Specifically, a background in software design, web development, project management, or other information technology roles could have better prepared you for software engineering jobs than any degree programs would have.
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