Become a Software Developer: A Guide for Non-Techies to Make the Transition

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a software developer but were intimidated by the tech industry? You’re not alone. Many non-techies have a passion for technology and dream of making it their career. Transitioning to a developer role can seem daunting, but with the right mindset and some hard work, it's definitely possible to make the jump.

Hi, my name is Rumen Manev 👋 For the past 2 years I've been working as a full-time software developer, but this is not my background. I studied business administration and after working for a few years as a consultant in the tech industry, I decided I'd much rather be involved in the actual creation of digital products... and so my journey begins!

In this article I’m going to give you the top tips on how to make the transition from non-tech into software developer 👨💻

Becoming a software developer

To become a software developer, you need to have a solid understanding of computer programming languages. Some popular, “beginner-friendly” languages include Python, C# or Ruby, but as a non-technical person, your biggest chance of entering the space is probably starting as a frontend developer, which means - JavaScript + HTML and CSS.

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Having technical knowledge is only part of the game. Software developers also need to have strong problem-solving and analytical skills. They need to be able to think creatively and come up with solutions to complex problems. They also need to have strong communication and collaboration skills, as they often work with other developers and stakeholders. As someone with a non-technical background, you might already have all those skills. The only thing left for you is to get technical!

Before we consider some learning sources, let’s discuss some reasons as to why you would want to become a software developer.

  1. Flexibility - As a software developer, you can often work remotely or on a flexible schedule, allowing you to have more control over your work-life balance.
  2. Variety - Software development is a constantly evolving field, and you’ll never be bored as there are always new technologies and challenges to tackle.
  3. Job Security - Software development is an in-demand field, and there is a shortage of qualified developers, so you will never have to worry about being unemployed.

Sources of Training for Software Development

The notion that you definitely need a technical degree from a university to work as a software developer is somewhat outdated. Nowadays, with the abundance of knowledge available online, the only thing you need is a strong enough interest in the field that will keep you motivated to push forward. Here are a few of your options to break into tech:

  • Online Courses - There are a variety of online courses available that can teach you the fundamentals of software development. Many of these courses are free or low-cost, and they can be completed in a relatively short amount of time. This is the most abundant choice, but requires the most self-discipline.
  • Bootcamps - Bootcamps are intensive, immersive programs that can teach you the skills you need to become a software developer. They typically last several weeks to a few months and can be expensive, but they are a great way to get up to speed quickly.
  • Mentors - Working with a mentor is a great way to learn the skills you need to become a software developer. Mentors can provide personalized guidance and feedback, which can help you learn faster and improve your skills. It might be tricky to find one, though
  • YouTube - There’s definitely an abundance in YouTube tutorials on all kinds of software development topics. From building a simple website to creating a cloud infrastructure, it’s all been already done by someone in a step-by-step video, ready for you to follow along.
  • Personal Projects - By far the best way to learn software development is to simply start a personal project, ideally on a topic that you’re interested in. Maybe you have a problem in your everyday life that you can solve with an online tool? A task that can be automated? Think of something that you would want to use and try to build it. Once you hit a roadblock, and this will happen very often in the beginning, go and research how you can fix this specific problem. Then, move on to the next one. Repeat until you have a complete project.
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Landing your first developer role

This can be a very lengthy and discouraging process. The truth is, a lot of companies are looking for software developers, but not a lot are looking for juniors. Remember that personal project you built while you were learning to code? This is your best bet. Since you won’t have any formal previous experience as a software developer, you’ll have to showcase what you’ve been working on by yourself. This shows recruiters and tech teams that you’re eager to learn, interested in software and have what it takes to build a career in tech.

Still, be prepared for a lot of rejection. It’s part of the process. With every new application, you’ll get better and better. Every next interview will be better than the previous one.

Another way to look for a job in the field is to look for teams that are hiring freelancers. We’ve previously written about the most popular platforms to try out here.

Once you do manage to land a job as a software developer, do remember to:

  • Stay up to date - Technology is constantly evolving, and it is important to stay up to date on the latest trends and tools.
  • Learn from your mistakes - It is important to learn from your mistakes and take constructive criticism from your peers and mentors.
  • Practice - Software development requires practice, so make sure to dedicate time to honing your skills.
  • Have passion - Have a genuine passion for technology and software development. Doing software development just for the sake of it and without actually being interested in tech is very unlikely to lead to a successful career.

Making the transition from non-tech to tech can be intimidating, but it is possible. With the right skills, training, and attitude, you can become a successful software developer. Keep these tips in mind, and you will be well on your way to a successful career in software development. Good luck!

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Rumen Manev

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