Back in 2015, Facebook projected that there would be one million unfilled programming jobs in the US by the time 2020 rolls around. That’s one million opportunities for computer programmers and software engineers to make a steady income doing what they love.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that you need at least a Bachelor’s degree in computer science to be a programmer. That’s not true at all! In fact, according to StackOver Flow’s 2016 survey, 69% of developers are self-taught as compared to the 43% with academic qualifications.
With enough dedication and grit, just about anyone can jump into the fray and build a career around computer programming and software development. It’s a highly motivated endeavour, which is why self-made developers should take note of the following as they embark on this super cool journey.
#1: ONLINE RESOURCES
To become a self-taught anything, you’ll need resources to get started. That means books, getting a hold of online classes (Harvard and Stanford are known to let these classes go for FREE), and making full use of websites dedicated to teaching programming to people of all proficiencies. Some of these sites include Cplusplus and Udemy, known to offer full courses at very low prices. Book Boon and Lifehacker offer free programming textbooks as well.
Facebook launched TechPrep in late 2015, hoping that the online programming resource will encourage interest and continued hype towards computer science careers. Anyone who’s looking to get their feet wet in computer science and programming work can’t say that they don’t have enough resources as compared to a university student! In fact, it’s very much the opposite!
#2: CONSISTENCY IS KEY
Becoming a self-taught developer requires discipline and patience. One of the biggest differences between a self-taught developer and one who’s been through university is the fact that university undergraduates have classes and professors readily available. They have coursework set out for them. Things are already laid out over a journey of four years.
For the self-taught developer, much of that curriculum and consistency depends on his or her motivation level. You are, in a way, on your own!
It’s good to be consistent and keep practicing regularly, especially if you’re looking to build a career out of this very versatile skill. Practice leads to the undertaking of small-scale programming projects – but don’t overlook this! A self-taught developer can showcase his skills on a public platform such as Github. The platform serves up cool stuff like 100-day challenges, pushing you to code every day for 100 days! Not only will you get exposure and experience, but you’ll be able to get the attention of potential employers. Win-win!
#3: SELF-TAUGHT, SELF-CONFIDENT
A successful self-taught developer believes in himself. Especially in Singapore, where qualifications on paper are still considered pretty important, being “self-taught” is going to draw in some scepticism and pessimistic views for sure. What makes you as good as someone with a Master’s degree in computer science?
It’s vital that aspiring developers don’t lose faith in themselves or believe they’re inferior to “proper” computer programmers. As mentioned before, StackOver Flow proved that most successful developers are comprised of people who followed the self-taught route. Haters gonna hate, and you’re gonna ignore all of that noise!
#4: GET OUT THERE AND NETWORK
The last thing a self-taught developer should do is to be proactive and link up with other people in the same field. Get to know your peers, exchange knowledge, challenge each other – this synergy will take you far, and you’ll be glad to have friends in the industry that will have your back and help you secure opportunities if they do come!
Join online communities like Github. Go to actual, physical meetings in your area and meet with other developers. Use portals like EventBrite, Meetup, or EventNook and get searching! Because you don’t have classmates attending morning lectures alongside you, you’re going to have to get out there and find your peers and future industry partners.
Self-taught developers are the force that will fill the need in the computer programming sector. Technology is rapidly developing, even as you read this article, and a computer programmer’s developer will never truly end.
If you’re hoping to break into the industry, know that you’re not alone! David Karp, creator of Tumblr, is a self-taught developer. Margaret Hamilton, the woman behind NASA’s Apollo Moon missions, is also someone who taught herself programming.
Are you psyched yet? You should be! Good luck on your programming journey!