Published: April 23, 2018
By Nelson Mandela
I had met or talked to multiple people who's interested or had took the plunge to become developers by jumping from their past careers. Here are 3 common paths that I know of to become a Software Developer be it through formal education, self education or though a coding bootcamp.
I'm just gonna list these 3 paths that I had come across with their own pros and cons which could help anyone greatly for anyone who are making a decision to embark on becoming a developer.
This path is the most intensive and requires commitment be it time and effort as a full student or part time from a university that provides the programme.
Most of the time it takes about 3 - 4 years depending on your programme you may be allowed to skip and reduce the amount of time to graduate from the degree programme.
This education path provides the credibility you gain by graduating from the university that gives you the programme. It includes professional networks and a shortcut to get into executive programmes provided by companies that does campus recruitment.
The other advantage for this path is that it provides you the knowledge to become a better software developer due to modules like software engineering practices, data structures or software architecture designs.
The time commitment to complete the programmes is a opportunity cost that you need to bear in mind. The amount of financial commitment is the highest compared to other paths to becoming a software developer.
The knowledge you had learnt in university might not be relevant for your job when you had graduated due to the gap in technology advancements and new practices being used in the industry.
There is a sharp rise of coding bootcamp or coding schools like Alpha Camp or General Assembly. It has been popping up all around the world that provides a intensive 3 or 4 months programme which aims to equip students with industry relevant skills to apply for jobs directly after their graduation from the coding schools.
The coding bootcamps focus is on technical skills and their intense 3 month course to create portfolio projects in certain technologies to showcase their proficiency in those areas.
Besides that there's always a component for industry career guidance or mentorship along with their own professional network to speed up the process of graduates getting employed in companies due to the branding of the coding school or coding bootcamp.
You might not be able to get employed due to your limited knowledge or skill sets and the 3-4 months commitment as a full time student to complete the programme might be difficult for mid career changing professionals.
The world is your oyster with the rise MOOCs or nanodegrees like Coursera or Udacity or youtuber which provides online courses to learn almost any technical skill to allow you to becoming a software developer. These online courses does provide certain mentorship or professional networks unless you enroll in their course for a small fee.
Self education doesn't require much financial commitment to start. As information and knowledge is free or widely available for a small fee compared to the other education paths.
It allows you to be part of the industry especially you had took the time to learn relevant skills and created portfolios to showcase your skills to potential employers at a much faster pace compared to the other paths.
Self education has it's double edge sword due to the fact that your learning by yourself, There won't be much professional network that comes alongside with the other paths to allow you leverage in finding a job.
Besides that you need to be committed to learning the relevant skills as a individual and charting your own learning to fit your skills to a certain job.
Lastly it will be a uphill task to convince potential employers to use you or give you a job as a developer due to experience and credibility of your skills.
Ultimately it depends on your choice to embark on either of these 3 education paths. it still comes down to your own circumstances and situations in life which may be unique from individual to individual.
My advice to you is to become self aware of yourself and gain knowledge through action. It could be taking a software developer for coffee or just doing research on the education path that you want to go ahead.
You can spend some time and money in taking personality tests like Strength Finder or MBTI is good starting point that help you understand yourself to be successful in transiting into becoming a software developer.