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smartest way to software engineer 2024

How Long Does It Take To Become a Software Engineer in 2024?

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Rithm School

May 8, 2024

smartest way to software engineer 2024

The road to becoming a software engineer can be a challenging one. Especially in today’s job market. 

The good news is that the timeline for reaching your dream job as a software engineer is pretty much in your control, depending on the route you take. 

Some people may take a few months to get started, while others will take longer to be able to contribute. 

In this article, we’ll explore the different paths that you can take to become a software engineer and the estimated timeframes for each. 

So, whether you’re just starting out or already on your way, read on to learn more about the exciting world of software engineering and how you can get there.

What You’ll Need To Learn To Become a Software Engineer

To become a really good software engineer, you need both technical expertise and interpersonal skills. 

On the tech side, you need to be fluent in programming languages like JavaScript, Python, or C++, understand software design and testing, and know your way around computer systems. 

Then, there are the soft skills: communication is key for collaborating with teammates, problem-solving is essential for tackling issues, teamwork is crucial for project success, and effective time management ensures you meet deadlines. 

So, it’s a blend of tech know-how and people skills that sets you up for success in the world of software engineering.

Various Timelines to Becoming a Software Engineer

The timeline to landing in your first career as a software engineer will change depending on the route you take: coding bootcamp, traditional education, or self-learning. 

Here’s a brief synopsis of your options: 

Coding Bootcamp

Enrolling in a coding bootcamp is the quickest and most functional way to becoming a software engineer in 2024. Bootcamps condense the teaching of all the skills you need— technical skills, decision-making skills, and job searching skills—into 4-6 months, depending on the bootcamp you choose. 

However, there’s a caveat: the quality of the bootcamp matters. Just because you complete the coding bootcamp, doesn’t mean that you’ll land a job right away. In fact, the job placement rates of bootcamps can change depending on the quality of the bootcamp.

Here at Rithm School, we place a heavy emphasis on the skillsets that tech companies are looking for when hiring. Aside from learning the technical skills required, we cover:

  • How to make decisions like an engineer, and understand the “why” behind your coding decisions.
  • Working in real-life professional projects, so you have tangible professional experience that you can use on your resumes & speak to throughout the interview process.
  • Practicing for job interviews; we spend several weeks going through mock interviews and practice projects to prepare you for the job market.
  • Ongoing career coaching even after graduation to give you the most support possible for landing a job after bootcamp. 

Our recommendation is to find an ethically run bootcamp that cares about you and your career outcome after graduation, gives you an opportunity to work on real-life projects, and is transparent about their outcome numbers. You can find our latest job outcomes report here

If you’re interested in learning more about joining Rithm School, you can check out an upcoming intro session, or enroll in the application process.

Traditional Education

Going down the traditional route of getting a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field may be the longest timeline for becoming a software engineer. 

This route typically takes 4 years to complete. Throughout your coursework, you’ll delve into topics such as programming languages, software design, algorithms, data structures, and computer architecture. However, you’ll also have to complete generic studies such as history, english, and languages. 

Following the completion of your undergraduate studies, you might consider going on to pursue a master’s degree in computer science or a related discipline. This typically involves an additional two years of study, but can offer a deeper understanding of software engineering concepts, potentially broadening your job prospects in the field.

It’s important to note that going down the traditional route of a 4-year degree is also the most expensive option. So, it’s likely not the best fit for everyone.

If you’re just coming out of high school and want the traditional experience of going to college, this may be the best option to take. However, if you’re transitioning from another career or want to expedite your software engineering journey, a coding bootcamp is going to be your best bet. 

Self-Learning Online

Finally, the last option to becoming a software engineer is to teach yourself the programming languages and software engineering concepts online using a self-guided course. This can take anywhere from months to several years, depending on your level of commitment.

It’s important to note that you need to be extremely motivated and disciplined to take this route, and you’ll be missing out on valuable insights & code reviews from experienced instructors who have worked in the field you’re going into. Additionally, you’ll also miss out on the real-life project work and networking opportunities that you’d otherwise get from a coding bootcamp or 4-year degree. 

This is our least recommended option as it’s the least successful for securing an entry-level role. 

How To Accelerate Your Software Engineering Timeline

Are there things that you can do to speed up how long it takes to become a software engineer in 2024? 


In addition to your studies, any extra work that you can do on the side will increase the chances of landing a full-time software engineering role. This can include building personal projects, contributing to open-source initiatives, or doing an internship or freelance work. 

Any additional experience that allows you to showcase your technical skills and improve your problem-solving abilities will help you stand out among the competitive job market. 

As a closing note, we want to stress that simply completing your studies—no matter which route you take— is not going to magically land you a software engineering role. 

The job market is brutal right now, as you all know. And the job placement rate is significantly lower across the industry than it has been in recent years. 

This is why it’s important to set realistic expectations for the road ahead. Our advice is to find a reputable coding bootcamp that offers a serious job search coaching program, and be prepared to put in a significant amount of work to stand out among other candidates. Build the extra project, join the internship, and attend every networking opportunity to give yourself the best shot at securing your first role quickly. 

If you have any questions that we haven’t answered, you can apply to meet with our admissions team anytime. 

Good luck and happy coding! 

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