How To Become a Software Engineer With No Experience

If you’re looking to start your career as a software engineer, then you’ll be thrilled to know that there are plenty of jobs available. There’s currently a shortage of qualified applicants for software engineering positions, and the U.S. Labor Department predicts the shortage of software engineers will reach 1.2 million by 2026. 

But it can be difficult to get a job if you don't have previous experience. In fact, the BBC reported that more than 60% of job listings for entry-level software engineering positions required at least three years of work experience. 

So if you’re trying to figure out how to break into the industry without those three years of experience already under your belt, then you’re in the right place. Below, we’ll tell you all about how to become a software engineer if you don’t have any experience (yet).

What Does a Software Engineer Do?

Software engineers, also known as software developers, use programming languages to write, develop, test, maintain, and improve software. Unlike programmers, they apply engineering principles that promote efficiency, speed, and quality. They also test and debug code, perform analysis, and create reports for clients, stakeholders, and upper management.

Essential Skills Every Software Engineer Should Know

You don't have to have a degree to become a software engineer. But there are core skills that you should learn, understand, and be able to execute. Along with soft skills such as communication, attention to detail, and problem-solving, here are a few technical skills that hiring managers look for in a software developer portfolio:

Programming Languages

Knowing how to code is a rudimentary skill for software engineers, as this is how software communicates with applications, programs, systems, etc. Several programming languages, like Python, Ruby, Java, and HMTL/CSS, have become industry standards.

Data Structures

Data structures allow software engineers to organize, process, retrieve and store data through the development of storage or "data containers." These enable developers and engineers to arrange and manipulate massive amounts of data to create efficient workflows. You should become familiar with the fundamentals of data structures, like arrays, trees, and more.

Testing and Debugging

It’s obviously best if bugs are caught before a launch, so software engineers must identify, fix, and prevent bugs quickly and effectively.

How To Land a Software Engineering Job

You've worked on your core skills but still need to develop real-world experience to get your first entry-level job. Here are four steps you can take:

Hone Your Skills

Mastering a programming language should be your first priority if you want to be a software engineer but don’t have any experience. And once you’ve mastered a language, continue to build your skills by taking online courses. Many free online resources, youtube videos, and even educational websites allow you to work at your own pace. You can take affordable classes a la carte for specific skills you want to hone. Bootcamps, such as the University of South Florida’s Software Engineering Bootcamp, are one of the most time-effective ways to hone your skills, as you’ll be working with hands-on projects, rather than theoretical concepts.

Get Certified

One of the best ways to show off your skills and help you stand out from other applicants is through certifications. CIW offers industry-recognized certifications like the CIW JavaScript Specialist and CIW Database Design Specialist. Becoming certified in C programming language is another great option for those looking to demonstrate skills.

Build a Portfolio

Join GitHub and work on open-source projects where you can see, modify, and distribute code. This will help you quickly build a portfolio of work that you can show to employers. You can also freelance, intern, or offer to work on small projects for free to build skills and learn from others.

Expand Your Network

One benefit of signing up for sites like GitHub and Open Source Guide is the connections you can make with other people. This helps you build a network of professionals that can provide recommendations or show you new and innovative software engineering and developer skills. Attend tech events and participate in coding challenges to broaden your network.

Entry-Level Software Engineering Jobs for Beginners

Here’s what you can expect from your first software engineering job:

Junior Web Developer

A true foot-in-the-door position, a junior web developer typically writes code. So brush up on your programming languages! You may also be asked to collect feedback from users to help modify products. $67,419 per year (Indeed).

Junior Software Engineer

A junior software engineer works with development teams to design products, write code, troubleshoot bugs, and modify code. This position allows for mentoring from more experienced software engineers and developers. $79,341 per year (Indeed).

Database Administrator

Database administrators create, organize, and maintain company databases and storage of data, customer records, personal information, and more. They also monitor for performance issues and ensure all data is backed up safely and securely. $94,449 per year (Indeed).

Software Test Engineer

Like the previous positions, a software test engineer conducts tests on new software to evaluate performance, review the conditions needed for testing, and help identify bugs throughout the process of coding and testing different project elements. $99,030 per year (Indeed).

Gain Experience With a Software Engineering Bootcamp

Bootcamps are one of the best ways to get a job as a software engineer with no experience in the workforce. The 100% online USF CTPE Software Engineering Bootcamp covers all five steps in nine months, setting you up for success and preparing you with hands-on experience! You'll master programming, front and back-end development, and data structures and algorithms and graduate with a custom capstone project in the tech stack of your choice. Apply online or reach out to our admissions team for more information.