How long does it take to become a software engineer?

Learning to code takes a while and becoming good at software development can take even longer.

It takes anywhere from 12 weeks up to four years to become a software engineer depending on the educational route you take into the industry. Those who opt for a degree study longer before becoming software developers while boot camp participants can be job ready in as little as three months.

There is such a shortage of software engineers that employers have started to ease the requirement for a degree. Gone are the days when you have to go through four years of formal education before writing your first line of professional code.

Roughly 62% of developers have some form of further education in the form of a bachelor's or master's degree. So for the majority of developers, it takes three to four years to become a professional developer. However, around 10.8% attend coding boot camps so they become developers in as little as 12 weeks.

Let's explore the reasons why it takes different lengths of time to learn to code and which is the best option.

How long does it take to become a software engineer?

Becoming a software engineer is a rewarding career choice, but it can also be a challenging one. Becoming a competent and skilled software engineer typically takes several years of study and work experience.

For 62% of software engineers, it takes between three and five years before they become professional developers because they are in full-time education. For around 10% of developers, it takes as little as 12 weeks to become a software engineer because of code schools.

The education you get will dictate the long it takes to become a developer.

University Degree

A bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field typically takes four years of full-time study. During your studies, you will learn the basics of computer science, such as algorithms, data structures, computer systems, and programming languages. You will also have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through internships.


During a coding camp, you will usually be given lectures and then have an opportunity to code in the afternoon. It is a lot more hands-on and practical than a bachelor's degree, the focus is on output rather than theory.

Everyone is different. Some people may be able to learn the necessary skills quickly on their own, while others may choose to enroll in a formal education program to receive training.

Additionally, many software developers continue to learn and develop their skills throughout their careers to keep up with the latest technologies and industry trends. It's important to note that becoming a software developer is a continuous process of learning and growth, rather than a one-time event.

Becoming even a half-decent software engineer needs a combination of education and work experience. The exact timeline can vary but it takes several years to become a competent and skilled software engineer. With dedication and hard work, however, you can achieve your goals and embark on a rewarding career in this exciting field.

How quickly can I become a software engineer?

You can become a software engineer in as quick as 12 weeks via coding boot camps but most people opt to get a formal education so it takes around four years. Only around 10% of software engineers go the coding Bootcamp route but many others spend a while longer teaching themselves.

Thankfully the requirement to have a degree has slowly disappeared because of the need for talented developers. Becoming a senior software engineer takes considerably longer but is also a lot more demanding.

Depending on your circumstances it may be better to opt for the coding Bootcamp route and get your first job as soon as possible. Once you have some experience under your belt, switching to more lucrative roles is easier, it’s one of the reasons developers don’t stay at jobs too long.

Becoming a good software engineer

Getting the necessary qualification from a university is just the first step on a long career ladder. Even your first job after a coding boot camp is only a foot in the door so you can start learning in a professional environment.

The amount of time it takes to gain the necessary work experience will vary depending on your circumstances and career goals. Some software engineers can move into senior positions after just a few years of work experience, while others may take longer to gain the necessary skills and expertise.

In addition to gaining work experience, you can also enhance your skills and knowledge through continuing education and professional development opportunities. Many software engineers take courses or attend conferences to stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and best practices in the field.

Is it hard to become a software developer?

Becoming a software developer can be challenging, but it is also a rewarding and fulfilling career. It requires a combination of technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and the willingness to continuously learn and adapt.

Strong foundations

To become a software developer, you will need to have a strong foundation in computer science and a deep understanding of at least one programming language. This can be achieved through formal education in computer science or a related field, or self-study and hands-on experience.

Technical abilities

In addition to technical skills, a successful software developer must also have strong problem-solving abilities. This means being able to think logically and systematically to break down complex problems into smaller, manageable pieces. It also means being able to approach problems from multiple angles and finding creative solutions.

Learn & Adapt

Perhaps most importantly, becoming a software developer requires a willingness to continuously learn and adapt. The field of technology is constantly evolving, and staying up-to-date with the latest tools, languages, and best practices are essential for success.

To get ahead in the industry and receive a promotion you need to keep learning. This means being proactive about learning and seeking out new opportunities to expand your knowledge and skills.

Becoming a software developer can be challenging, but it is also a highly rewarding and fulfilling career. Developers do work long hours but those who are willing to put in the effort to learn the necessary skills and stay current with the latest developments in the field will find that the rewards are well worth the effort