How do I start a career in software development?

Are you ready to change your career? Here’s our top tips for starting your new career in software development and...

Harry Dibbs
Harry Dibbs
5 min read Reading Time
22 April 2022 Date Created

Digital and tech jobs are booming in the UK. Over 2.1 million people work in the industry, that’s more than in hospitality, construction, or even financial services! So if you’re thinking about starting a career in software development, you’ve got a lot of options, and hopefully, a bright future ahead of you.

With websites, apps, databases and software being integral parts of most businesses, it’s not just startups and big tech companies that offer opportunities for roles in software development.

And no matter what kind of company you work for, you’ll find that there are many different career paths available within the software development field, so you’ll find a good fit whatever your interests or specialisms.

Front-end, back-end and full stack developers have the responsibility of keeping websites running perfectly and looking great. While app, games and cloud developers use their skills to focus on their own niche products. AI and machine learning are becoming more in demand as the value of big data grows, so roles in data science are increasing across the industry as well.

Ready to change your career? Here’s how to start your career in software development.

Step 1 – Education

This first step to a new career in software development doesn’t necessarily involve enrolling on a Computer Science degree at university that will cost your 3 years of your life and thousands of pounds of debt.

Now, we’re not saying that a CS degree doesn’t have value, it’s still an important route into a career in software development that holds a lot of clout. But there are other options too. Some recent research in the US predicted that by 2020 there would be 1 million more computing jobs than there are Computer Science students. Similarly in the UK, software developers of all levels are in high demand and the job prospects are strong, especially in tech hubs like the East of England.

Many experienced, high-paid developers are completely self taught. Online courses offer structure and guidance from beginners levels of coding right through to advanced languages and development. If you’re dedicated, you can build a strong knowledge of software development skills from your living room sofa.

It can be overwhelming knowing where to start with online courses, so our tip is to first identify a specific role that you’re interested in pursuing and work towards that to give your education some drive and direction. Research what problems are solved by different software development roles and find out what interests you the most.

Step 2 – Practice

Once you know what direction you want your new career in software development to take, it’s time to practise. Learn a coding language that will help you transition to other languages or stacks as you become more experienced, like Javascript or Ruby. It’s better to show that you have a broad knowledge when you’re starting out to keep your job prospects as wide and varied as possible. You can always specialise later in your career if you want.

There’s no substitute for real world experience when it comes to learning new skills, and that’s why finding an apprenticeship in the digital sector could be really valuable for kick starting your new career. In the East of England, some top software development agencies have teamed up with college and university level courses to provide students with skills and the possibility of full time employment too.

Step 3 – Build

For the best chance of making it in a new career as a software developer, you have to rely on your own initiative. Stay on top of all the latest industry news, work on your own personal projects and study the work of other people’s code as well.

By using the tools and professional processes that workers in software development actually use, you can prepare yourself for the day-to-day of your new career. Github is a great place to find code documentation written by other developers so you can study it and understand how it relates to programming and websites in the real world.

But your tech skills aren’t the only thing you should be working to improve. Soft skills are just as important. Being a team player, a problem solver, being dedicated and reliable, these are things that every employer is looking for. Think about how these sort of skills relate to working in software development and build your confidence in being able to answer interview questions about these qualities to impress your potential new employer.

Step 4 – Grow

Networking is one of the best ways to build your community of like-minded professionals. It can be a little daunting if you’ve not done it before, so maybe start with joining some online communities like Stack Overflow, to see what discussions, developments and questions are current. Then if you’re feeling more confident, join a coding meetup, a hackathon, or attend a tech talk. The more you get involved in the tech community, the more new opportunities will come your way.

Get Hired as a Software Developer in the East of England

At Bristow Holland we work with the best tech employers in the East of England, helping developers and programmers at the very start of their career and those looking for a change to find their dream tech job. There are great opportunities for software developers at every level so contact us or come and chat to us in person and find out more about what we can do to help.