How to become a computer programmer without a degree

The clearest path to becoming a quality computer programmer is to earn your bachelor’s degree in computer science, but that’s far from a hard and fast rule. Talented programmers who started out with nothing more than one online certificate or by learning some of the most common ones on their own Programming languages, like JavaScript, Python, or Ruby.

Will an associate’s or bachelor’s degree help you land a career in programming? Sure. In fact, it will probably make the process easier. That said, you’ll also be spending a lot of time in school learning topics that may not be programming-oriented. However, with online certifications and self-study, you can only learn what is important in becoming a good programmer.

Obtaining a degree in programming also comes with big tuition bills. From the 2019-2020 school year, the average annual tuition fees rings at $ 36,880 for private colleges, $ 10,440 for state residents at public colleges and $ 26,820 for out-of-state residents at public universities.

Even sticking with the cheapest option, your estimated cost is $ 41,760 for a four-year degree in programming.

Avoid these costs and the time associated with formal schooling. Here’s how to become a computer programmer without a college degree. Here’s how.

Your journey to a career as a programmer without a degree

There is no shortage of programming jobs. Visit any job board and search for “programming jobs”. You will see a plethora of entry-level programming jobs at various companies. However, it can be a competitive arena with many people vying for similar positions. This means it can help you find your particular programmer niche.

Before you apply for a programmer job, however, you need to decide what type of programmer you want to be and how to tailor your knowledge base to your career aspirations.

Getting into a career in computer programming is pretty straightforward. Computer programmers are those who, behind the scenes, write and edit the code to software. To be a successful computer programmer, you need great attention to detail. You should also be an expert at troubleshooting, as computer programmers are responsible for ensuring that programs run without errors.

If you are interested in website design and building and work in a variety of fields, becoming a web developer can be a good option. Job prospects for web developers are strong as it is should grow up 13% by 2028, making this career path a great choice for aspiring programmers.

Of course, these aren’t the only two career paths you can take as a programmer. With the right certification and hands-on experience, you can also pursue a career as a programmer analyst, mobile application developer, or computer systems engineer.

Once you have identified what type of programmer you would like to be, it will be much easier for you to choose your next steps.

Get an online certification to become a programmer

Even if a college degree looks good on you to resume, you don’t need it to be a programmer. Instead, consider the benefits of getting certified online. There are many online organizations offering programming certifications, including Codeacademy, Udemy, Udacity, LinkedIn Learning, and many more. The internet offers a plethora of online certification options for aspiring programmers. If time is also a concern, many of these courses allow you to take modules and complete your certification when it’s convenient for you.

Check out these online courses for aspiring programmers:

  • MIT OpenCourseWare offers a comprehensive selection of entry level programming courses. Start your training with an introduction to computers and programming. This course will help you learn the basics of programming and Python, which is one of the most common programming languages.

  • edX, which is run by MIT and Harvard University, offers online courses including an introduction to programming, Java, Python, and more.

  • Codeacademy is one of the best known online courses for those looking to start a career as a programmer. With Codeacademy, you can learn some of the most common programming languages.

  • freeCodeCamp offers several online certifications. As a budding programmer, you can earn a certification in responsive web design or opt for certification in JavaScript algorithms and data structures.

Do you learn a programming language

Whether you decide to pursue an online certification or not, you must learn a programming language to become a programmer. While many online certifications include this in their courses, you can also teach yourself by watching YouTube videos, reading books, and creating personal projects. One of the main advantages of YouTube is the many programmer-centric channels available to watch for free.

Even after you feel comfortable with a language, continue this self-study to hone your coding skills.

Popular programming languages:

  • Java is a great language to learn as a budding programmer. Not only is it one of the most well-known programming languages, but it is also a versatile language.

  • Javascript is commonly used by web developers. Most of the most popular websites are created using JavaScript. If you are interested in a career as a web developer, JavaScript is the way to go.

  • Python is a programming language widely used in software development. So, if you are planning to shift your programming career towards software development, consider learning this language.

  • Fast is used to create macOS, ios, the watchOS and tvOS applications. If you are interested in developing software or applications for Apple products, learning Swift is a must.

Find a job as a beginner programmer

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Once you’ve earned a certification or learned a common programming language, it’s time to find a entry-level programming work. Fortunately, there are many ways to do this.

If you’ve ever applied for jobs, you’ve probably used a job board. Finding a job as a programmer will be similar. From popular sites like Indeed to more specialized job sites like Geekwork, you’re sure to find a entry level programming work on the many job boards on the Internet.

Applying for a job online isn’t the only way to get started in programming. If you know someone who works as a programmer, ask them how they got their job. Many will say it was networking with other programmers.

Networking with employed programmers will give you the opportunity to learn more about what it takes to become a programmer and might even lead you to your first job.

Quick tips for landing your first programming job:

  • Before applying for a programming job, update your resume. Make sure it is well written and reflects everything you have learned. If you don’t know how to structure your resume, consider working with a career coach or asking someone who already works as a programmer.

  • LinkedIn is a great resource for job seekers. Your profile should be error free and highlight all of your programming skills. You can also use LinkedIn to apply for jobs, connect with hiring managers and search companies in your area.

  • Professional groups and associations can be a great way to break into programming. Joining an organization such as the International Computing and Information Technology Association can help you connect with job opportunities, additional courses, and professional networking events.

Put your programming career in your hands

Starting a new career can be intimidating, but don’t be put off by pursuing an online course or learning a programming language. The skills you develop as a programmer will be essential as your career progresses and will undoubtedly help put you on the path to success. Also see yourself as a lifelong learner. It’s always worth revisiting or taking more advanced online courses to hone your skills.

Now is the time to put your dream in your hands and make it a career in programming.

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