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You CAN Become a Software Engineer Without a Degree. Here's How

You don’t need to study computer programming at university to get your foot on the coding career ladder. With the right help, training and support, you could go from absolute beginner to junior engineer in as little as 12 weeks — no qualifications required. Here’s how…

Laptop screen with code displayed on the screenFor those pursuing a career in software development, the future looks bright. Not only do jobs requiring digital tech skills command higher salaries, with an average salary of £42,578, compared to £32,477 for those without digital tech skills, but companies are actively searching for (and struggling to find) talented developers to fill their roles. In fact, positions are opening up faster than they can be filled, meaning that people with the right digital skills are in high demand.

Here are four ways you can pick up coding skills and take steps towards a career in programming without a degree.

1. Upskill online

Weighing up your career options without a degree? With so many fantastic coding resources available for beginners online, from video tutorials and vlogs to blogs and even podcasts — it has never been easier for beginners to brush up on the basics.

If you’re just starting out, we recommend you take a look at freeCodeCamp’s JavaScript Basics. Looking for something slightly more in depth? It’s well worth signing up for Treehouse, an online school with courses aimed at beginners looking to learn coding skills for a career in the tech industry. For £20 per month, you can access hundreds of online tutorials and guides.

Upskilling 101: Don’t give up if the first resource you turn to doesn’t work for you. Everyone learns differently, so if freeCodeCamp isn’t your thing, don’t get frustrated, keep your eyes open for alternatives.

2. Look for coding meetups in your area

Codeup logoEveryone starts somewhere. Even the best programmers in the world had to start from scratch at some point. One thing’s for sure: it’s always easier to dive into something new when you have a bit of support and encouragement.

Coding meetups are perfect for connecting with your local coding community. CodeUpUK hold monthly meetups across the UK, including Leeds and Manchester. The events are run by volunteers who are passionate about helping others to develop their programming skills. If you’re unsure if you want to pursue a career as a software engineer, it’s well worth going along and asking for advice from members who have worked in tech for years. They'll be able to give you their honest opinion on the realities of a career in the industry.

Coding meetups 101: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Coding meetups attract people of all skill levels, from complete beginners to developers with 20+ years of experience. Use that experience to your advantage and ask as many questions as you can.

3. Join an apprenticeship scheme

The UK’s tech industry is booming and demand for digital talent is rising — fast. In fact, between 2014 and 2017 digital tech sector employment rose 13.2%.

As a result, there are now more opportunities than ever before to take the apprenticeship route into a career in tech. Schemes vary from region to region, but if you’re seriously considering uni alternatives, take the time to research the software development schemes in your local area. Some do require a basic level of qualifications, such as GCSEs in Maths, Science and English, but this varies from scheme to scheme

With apprenticeship schemes up and running across the UK, we recommend starting your search with a look at the government’s apprenticeship website or browse some of the 4,000+ apprenticeship opportunities listed on NotGoingtoUni.co.uk.

Apprenticeships 101: Take your time to research each apprenticeship carefully and remember: just because you’re not taking the ‘traditional’ route into a career, doesn’t mean your career will be any less rewarding. In fact, the opposite is true. You’ll get plenty of hands-on experience that employers are looking for.

4. Join a coding bootcamp

Northcoders Campus ManchesterIf you want to pursue a career in software development, a coding bootcamp could be the perfect option for you.

Unlike self-study and online courses where you’re left to your own devices, in-person coding bootcamps offer an immersive, intensive education experience where you’re taught the essential programming skills you’ll need to kick-start a career as an entry-level developer.

At Northcoders, our 12-week curriculum is based on the skills businesses tell us they're looking for, and is structured around core programming fundamentals.

  Unlike universities where one tutor lectures to a large group of students and is only available for one-on-one sessions one or two days a week, our staff-to-student teaching ratio is 1:7 and every student receives support from a team of dedicated mentors. This means that there will always be someone on hand when you need help with a persistent problem or error message!

Coding bootcamps 101: Don’t rush your decision and always ask coding bootcamps these questions before you apply.

Is Northcoders an alternative to university education?


Over the years, we’ve received lots of enquiries from people who think they need to have completed their GCSEs, A-levels or have a degree-level qualification in order to secure work in software development. The truth is, there are many routes into a career in tech, and Northcoders is one of them.

You don’t need any specific qualifications to study with Northcoders. All we ask is that you pass our Entry Challenge and complete the pre-course materials we ask every student to work through before their first day on campus. Why? We want you to hit the ground running from day one, and the Entry Challenge and pre-course preparation are key to setting you up for success.

Learn to code with Northcoders

No qualifications. No committing to a three-year course at university. Just industry-leading training that will equip you with the skills employers are looking for and get you hired. Sound like something you're interested in? Find out more about our 12-week coding bootcamps in Leeds and Manchester

Lucy Adams
After discovering Northcoders and sharing the vision, she came on board to spread the word about Northcoders to help change lives. She thinks you should learn to code because it's an incredibly rewarding skill!

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