If you’re wondering if you need a degree to become a software developer, you’re in the right place. Know what education you’ll need (or wouldn’t) to land a developer’s job.

Educational Requirements for a Software Developer

According to a survey by Stack Overflow, 54.2% have a degree in computer science or software engineering. However, the same survey showed that only 47.9% of professional developers have a bachelor’s degree. 

In the IT industry, employers will prioritize your skill sets and not necessarily your degree and alumni status. However, graduating from a reputed university can increase your chances of getting hired by big companies, even if you aren’t an excellent developer (you might have to live up to the standards by improving your skills while in the organization).

You can see the trends of employees with and without degrees in organizations below. The bigger the company, the fewer employees without a bachelor’s degree. A Master’s degree is relatively rare across all-sized businesses. 

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HackerRank’s 2020 Developer Skills Report.

To conclude, to become a software developer, it is generally advised to have a full-time computer science or computer engineering degree from a good university. However, this option may need time, money, and effort, which not everyone would have. And for them, there are alternate ways. 

Alternatives Ways to Become a Software Developer

1. Get a software development certificate 

A certificate in software development is one of the best, alternative ways to become a software engineer. They’re mostly part-time and online. Here are the benefits of an online software development certificate course: 

  • University quality education 
  • No visits to campus 
  • 100% online 
  • No hefty fees
  • Liberty to start and navigate through the course at your convenience
  • Credible accreditation 
  • Interaction with professors
  • Alumni status 

Moreover, a good software development certificate course may cover many subjects like programming languages, web application development, DevOps, AWS, software programs and more. It may take around 18 credit hours to complete. 

2. Attend coding bootcamps

A 2019 study from Course Report reported that bootcamp attendance had increased 11 times since 2013. In 2019 alone, 22,043 learners took and completed coding bootcamps

Like certificate courses, they’re mostly part-time and online. They tend to focus on practical skills rather than on the theories of programming. They typically use project-based learning methods to teach widely used programming languages or frameworks such as Python, Ruby on Rails, PHP, or JavaScript. 

The only difference between bootcamps and certificate courses is that bootcamps are not regionally or nationally accredited unless affiliated with a university. So, the quality of individual programs vary. However, most employers value college credentials over private bootcamp training, especially if you are a fresher.

3. Participate in Hackathons

Hackathons help you dive into complex projects and learn about the different tools, techniques, and approaches giving you nothing to risk if you fail. They’re different from courses and boot camps.

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They give opportunities to students to transform ideas into prototypes by offering them a platform to collaborate and explore. Hackathons are the most effective way to gain practical knowledge. In addition, you meet working people from the IT industry. This network can help you learn and land a job as well. 

 You can find upcoming hackathons in the United States here.

4. Access free resources 

If you wish to create your own cost-effective curriculum, you must take a fully independent route by studying books, tutorials, podcasts, and other low-cost resources. 

Here you’ll save big sums and be under the control of your learning pace and direction. However, since you’ll be solely responsible for creating and covering your own curriculum, you need to be very strongly self-motivated. You’ll need a lot of discipline to complete your education within a reasonable time. 

Another significant drawback of self-learning is that, unlike online certification courses, this will not offer any credibility to show on your resume. It won’t assure employers that an individual possesses the skills they’re looking for. If you still choose to learn independently, ensure that you have an elaborate portfolio to back you up during interviews!

Some resources to help you self-learn: 

Jobs You Can Pursue With a Software Developer Certificate

Now that you know the means to become a software developer, here are the kinds of roles you can get hired for:

  • Software Developer
  • Web developer (front-end, back-end, or full-stack), 
  • Systems Developers
  • IT Support or Administrator 
  • Quality Analysts 
  • App Developer
  • UI/UX Designer, etc.

After further specialization, you can get hired in the highest paying positions like 

  • Data Scientist 
  • Machine Learning Engineer 
  • AI Developer 
  • IoT Engineer, etc. 


The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that software developer jobs in the U.S. will grow by 22 percent by 2030. Already about 250,000 software developer jobs are unfilled in the U.S., the number is expected to grow. With hyper-digitalization, more businesses now need software developers to create products, apps, and websites for them – making software development one of the most lucrative fields for job-seekers.