Software engineering is an occupation in high demand. If you love technology, tinkering, and building things, software engineering might suit you.

But how do you become a software engineer?

Of course, as anyone would, you might start by going to your favorite browser and asking ‘how to become a software engineer.’ But you may find the results will be confusing, conflicting, demotivating, and frankly, not helpful.  

So, why is there so much bad advice about becoming a software engineer?

We have a theory! That’s because each software engineer has had a different journey. Some engineers are completely self-taught, others learned online, many attended college, and some earned a degree. Each person’s path is so wildly different that you see this variation in the guidance provided. Also, we’ve noticed there tends to be a bit of ego too. As if becoming a software engineer is akin to joining a special priesthood that only the truly chosen may enjoy.

Here’s a piece of advice we found from a highly ranked source: WikiHow advises that your first step should be to get a degree in computer science or a related field, followed by step two, “Begin programming. Even if you’re still in grade school…” If you’re thinking of getting into programming, this makes it sound like you’ve already missed your opportunity and wasted your childhood by not programming. Plus, it emphasizes seeking a degree as the first step. More than half of all software engineers do not have a degree in computer science, so that advice doesn’t reflect reality. (However, we agree that seeking a degree in computer science is excellent advice for students who are just starting their college careers.)

Getting into programming is something pretty much anyone can do. All you need is a computer with an internet connection and the desire to learn. There are tons of resources out there to get you started. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on training. There are plenty of free such as YouTube and inexpensive educational outlets, Udemy.com, as an example – most of their classes are in the $10-$20 range.

As you begin your journey to become a software engineer, remember your path is unique to you. Watch out for bad advice and seek more information to help build your plan forward.