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How to Become a Software Engineer (and Thrive in The Process)

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

A career in software development can be a fantastic choice in financial, professional, and even personal levels.

If there ever was a time to become a software engineer, it definitely has to be right now. A lot of people are saying that all companies will eventually turn into digital companies. Demand for software grows with each passing year. There are plenty of jobs available – and there’s even a talent shortage! And last but not least: being a developer has a median pay of more than $105,000 a year, 3 times the median annual wage for US workers.

So, I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me you wanted to switch careers to start developing apps. A quick Google search can show you that a lot of people already did that same switch. Yet, if you pay attention to those people telling their stories, you’ll notice something common for all of them: transitioning to a software development careers isn’t easy.

Learning how to become a software engineer takes a lot of time and effort, sure, but also a lot of guidance. The software development field is so vast that you can get lost pretty easily and get discouraged even more easily. A lot of people that made the transition recount their experiences with the same spirit. They all want to share the things they all would have wanted to know before doing such a significant change in their professional lives.

That’s precisely why I’m writing this article. A career in software development can be a fantastic choice in financial, professional, and even personal levels. But you have to make sure you do it right. And though there’s no written formula as to how to make that switch, there are certain things that you need to know before jumping into software development. Here are the most important ones.

Start With a Goal – and Stick to it

Before taking online coding courses, signing up for college, or even reading about programming, you need to lay strong foundations for your new career. That’s why is better if you devise some sort of a plan as your first step.

What should you preview? First and foremost, think about why you want to make the switch in the first place. It may be because you want to build applications. Perhaps you want to work on a tech startup. Maybe you want to be paid well. It doesn’t matter as long as you make it crystal clear why you are doing this. You’ll need a goal on the horizon to keep going.

Then, you’ll need to define what language will you learn. This is where things start to get tricky. There are a lot of languages out there. It will obviously depend on which kind of things you want to work on. You can go for a backend development language like Python. You could choose to work on the front end with a language like Javascript. You could even learn one of the emerging languages like Kotlin or Go.

A lot of people will tell you that the best place to start is by learning Ruby. That’s because it is easily readable, efficient, open-source, and has a strong community around it. You can definitely start with Ruby but don’t feel like it’s the right fit for you only because other people say so.

To tell you the truth, there are no formulas here. You’ll have to read a little about software development and its different languages to see which feels more appropriate for you. There is a suggestion you can follow here, though. Stick to one language and learn it well because learning an additional language after that (something you’ll have to do eventually) will be far easier after you’ve mastered one.

It’s not that all languages are the same. But once you’ve learned one, you’ll already know how to tackle the learning process itself. In other words, you’d have put yourself in a developer’s mindset, an essential thing to go ahead.  

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