“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” - Steve Jobs
IT and computers play an important role in our personal and professional lives and more and more businesses are recruiting experts in the field, especially developers. Cybersecurity, networks, and telecoms, in particular, are very popular fields.
Each year, there are thousands of IT students looking to enter the working world.
But do you know where they learn about software development?
In this article, we’ll look at educational establishments where you can learn more about software engineering, computer science, IT, web development, or creating apps and computer programs.
Software Development at School: GCSE
One of the first courses students can take to learn about computing during their academic career will during the General Certificate of Secondary Education, more commonly known as the GCSE.
A GCSE in Information Communication Technology (ICT) generally teaches students the skills they need to operate computers and become digitally literate, but for those interested in learning how computers work and the skills to create software, IT systems, websites, or apps, the Computer Science GCSE is probably a better option.
Students can learn about computational thinking and problem solving, which involves algorithms, programming techniques, and representing data. They'll also need theoretical knowledge of computer systems, memory and storage, computer networks, network topologies, and cybersecurity.
While very few computer science degrees actually require students to have a Computer Science GCSE, it's a useful course for introducing students to fundamental concepts and better prepare them for their A Levels.
Software Development at School: A Level
Much like the GCSE in Computer Science, an A Level in Computer Science isn't really a requirement for most degrees. In fact, most university courses require an A Level in mathematics rather than computer science so make sure that you study that if you're interested in going to university to study programming, software engineering, web development, or computer science.
However, since you usually get to choose three or four A Levels, it would be a shame not to start studying computing or computer science as soon as you get the chance as it'll make life easier when you do get to university.
The Computer Science A Level course covers communication and internet technologies, hardware, software development, and database modelling. Students will also be expected to develop computational thinking and problem-solving skills they can use to develop computer-based solutions using algorithms and programming languages.
Software Development at University
For anyone wanting to become a professional computer programmer, web developer, or software engineer, a university course is probably the most obvious choice. There are a lot of different courses but in general, you'll want to look for degrees in computing, computer science, computing science, or IT.
In most undergraduate computer science degrees, students will cover topics such as:
- Software engineering
- System engineering
- Full-stack development
- Machine learning
- Business intelligence engineering
- Network management
- Web development
- Web and mobile development
- Mobile connectivity solutions
- Video game development
- Multimedia development
- Video game programming
- IT project management
- Program development
Since there are a lot of different courses out there, it's important that you look at which modules you can study, the skills are taught on the course, and how much specialisation the course allows.
Some courses will have a very strict program where students have a lot of core modules and very few optional ones whilst others will give students a lot of freedom in terms of the classes and modules they pick. Remember that some courses are better than others for certain fields in the industry, too.
If you're no longer at school or work full-time, you mightn't want to enrol on a full-time university course. For those looking to break into the industry, there are always shorter courses where you can learn skills specific to a certain job or career in software development.
For those with a focus on their career or certain skills, training courses are probably the best option. You can find these types of courses across the country and they're often taught by IT professionals working in the industry rather than academic lecturers like at university.
Training courses also tend to be more specific in scope and can focus on topics like SQL, programming, app development, data science, big data, etc. There's quite some variation in the cost of these courses, but for those already in the industry, there's the possibility that your employer may pay for you to attend a course if they see it as an investment in your professional development.
For many, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is a great way to start learning about computer programming, software engineering, or web development. You can find free courses if you're still undecided and learn a bit of code.
There are also more comprehensive courses that will teach you about certain programming languages, specialisations, or the fundamentals of software development. Much like training courses, there are online courses for all budgets so it's a good idea to shop around and see what the different courses offer before investing in one.
While training courses tend to focus on professionals already in the industry looking to further their career, there are also plenty of courses offered or managed by local councils. These kinds of courses tend to be designed with novices in mind and if you're interested in learning some basic computer skills, these are probably the best place to start if you've already left school.
Subjects and Specialisation
When it comes to software engineering, app development, web design, or network management, there are a lot of different fields for you to specialise in. Most university courses allow students to start specialising later on in the course by giving them more choice in terms of modules and classes, but there's no reason you couldn't specialise later on in your career.
Some of the most popular specialisations include:
- System programming
- Application programming
- Web programming
- IT and ethics
- Computer architecture
Of course, it's probably a good idea to specialise in something that would help further your professional career. However, it's also important that you choose something that you're passionate about as it'll make your work life far more enjoyable.
If you want to learn more about programming, computer science, web development, or software engineering, consider getting help from one of the many talented and experienced private tutors on the Superprof website. There are tutors all over the country and around the world offering different types of tutoring so think about which will be right for you, your budget, and how you like to learn.
Face-to-face tutors offer the most cost-effective type of tuition, but they also tend to charge the most per hour. This is because they can tailor every minute of every lesson to you, what you want to learn, and how you like to learn. Similarly, many of them may also travel to you and charge extra for the distance they have to cover.
As they don't have to travel and can schedule more lessons each week, online tutors tend to charge less than face-to-face tutors. While online tutoring isn't always ideal for hands-on subjects, academic subjects like computer science, web development, and software engineering, can be taught just as effectively.
Group tutorials are an excellent choice for those on a budget. With every student paying for the tutor's time, it works out cheaper per student per hour. While you won't be able to guarantee that every aspect of the tuition is tailored to you, it can be useful to learn from your peers.
Don't forget that many of the tutors on the Superprof website offer the first lesson for free. Use these free sessions to try out various tutors before deciding on the one that's right for you, your preferred learning approach, and your budget.