What You Need to Know Before You Become a Software Developer

Nowadays, it is possible to make a living as a software developer without a university degree. Though you’ll need advanced skills and knowledge, you don’t necessarily need to obtain any particular accreditation or sit exams. Of course, programmers with degrees have an easier time getting a job, since they seem less risky to companies. However, the key skills discussed in this article can help you market yourself, be it as a staff programmer or as a freelancer.

1.     Ability to Work as Part of a Team

You may think it odd to put « teamwork » at the top of our list. In fact, teamwork is crucial. Very few programmers actually work alone; in fact, the traditional work environment requires programmers to work together to complete complex tasks by taking on important, often shared, responsibilities. Being able to work with others and to provide both technical and social added value to the team is a considerable asset to any developer.

2.     Broad Knowledge of Various Programming Languages

You should know at least one programming language per major development model. But you’ll attract even more attention if you know at least one other type of language: procedural, object-oriented, functional, declarative or multimodel languages like Python or Java can round out your skills and help you stand out from the crowd.

3.     Expertise in Software Security

The ability to develop a powerful program is essential, but not sufficient. What about security? Indeed, security is becoming an increasingly pressing issue in software development. You can develop your skills in software security through the not-for-profit charitable organisation OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project), which focuses on improving software security.

4.     Expertise in Data Structure and Algorhythms

Software developers are often asked to correct code or to create individual solutions to meet specific client needs. The ability to analyze code will give you flexibility and versatility, two highly-prized assets in the field. The book Coders at Work is a good starting point to enhance your knowledge and provide you with a clear vision of the programming universe, and of your future profession.

5.     Ability to Understand your Client

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But you’d be surprised at the number of developers who don’t make it because they just don’t understand their clients’ needs. How can you develop and implement helpful software without a thorough understanding of its intended use, or of your client’s goals? Taking the time to understand every aspect of your client’s company will allow you to develop powerful, high-quality software, designs, tests and implementations.


Yes, you can become a self-taught software developer, provided you have the qualities and motivation necessary to put in the time and effort required to truly master your craft.