Fundamentally, learning to become a software engineer is like any other career path. Hard work will determine success, not talent. Despite this undisputed truth, society still believes that software development is a niche industry. It is a field reserved for the geek, math whiz, and the prodigy.
These are dangerous misconceptions that can deter people with great potential to succeed from learning how software developers. It’s time to end these myths. We hope that you will be able to make an informed decision about a career in coding and the next steps in learning how to be a software developer.
MYTH #1: To be a developer, I must be a genius
REALITY: Anyone can learn to be a software developer
Software engineers, developers and programmers – whatever you want to call them – are not geniuses. Their skillfulness is like any other member of an industry. It ranges from exceptional to poor. You will find programmers who have either a remarkable work ethic or exceptional talent. On the negative side, you can only imagine. You will find people just like yourself at any point on this spectrum, no matter how good or poor. Everyone follows the same path to get into the industry: learn the theory and technology, then implement the knowledge through projects until mastery. That’s it.
You are more “destined” than anyone to be a software developer, and vice versa.
MYTH #2 – Learning to code is similar to learning brain surgery!
REALITY: Coding is easy, but mastering it can be difficult.
To become a software engineer, you will need to know how to code. It’s not brain surgery, and it’s not rocket science.
As you can see, the first tasks are simple: “Computer, make this website interface 1000px wide!” However, as these basic tasks become more complex and increase in number, this step-by–step list of mini tasks becomes more complicated and strenuous. Imagine how many tasks are needed to build Codingdojo.com. This is how software development works. It’s a complex form of communication between humans and computers that is both easy to learn and difficult to master later.
For someone who is new to programming, however, if they are able to communicate with others, they will be able to learn to code. The first step is to master the special languages that only computers can understand.
MYTH #3: To become a software developer, I need to have a college degree
REALITY: Programmers with no degrees are more common that you think
There are many software developers working in the tech industry that are self-taught and don’t have formal degrees. Computer programming is a trade and can be taught in much the same way as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator.
Although they may not be a programmer or graphic designer when they first start out, they are able to use the tools to get a job. Once they get a job, they start to build a portfolio and learn their trade. This is how self-taught programmers and graphic designers find success. Many programming technologies, such as PHP, are well documented online and are enthusiastically supported online by the community, which encourages self-taught coding.
The rise of the U.S. coding bootcamp industry shows that a college degree does not necessarily mean you can become a software developer. While a degree is certainly more valuable, it doesn’t mean that coding bootcamps are less valuable. Both routes can be used as stepping stones to a career in software engineering. Contrary to popular belief, the goal of a Coding Bootcamp is not to acquire comparable coding skills to a 20 year veteran. This is impossible. Our Coding Dojo alumni have achieved this goal many times over.
This career path is similar to that of a computer scientist graduate.