If you’re looking for a career in a field that has almost unlimited growth potential, you could do a lot worse than becoming a computer programmer.
As the world continues to increasingly rely on computer-driven technology, the demand for programmers will also rise on an upward trajectory. So, if you’re a methodical and mathematically minded person in search of a well-paid career with good future prospects, computer programming could be right up your alley.
In this article, I’ll examine How to Become a Computer Programmer, what exactly they do, and the steps you can take to make the dream of becoming one a reality.
So, let’s start with…
- What Do Computer Programmers Do?
- Identify The Career Path That Interests You
- Identify The Coding Language That You’ll Require
- The Different Coding Languages
- Decide Whether To Learn At College, Boot Camp Or By Yourself
- Your Job Searching
- For The Love Of Computers And Technology!
- Final Thoughts
What Do Computer Programmers Do?
Basically, programmers are responsible for creating the digital architecture that most of us use on a day-to-day basis. All the websites we visit, apps we use, and games we play are the result of countless hours of behind-the-scenes programming work.
It’s not just websites and apps, though. All software development across every industry is the result of a programmer’s hard work. Good programming ensures the functionality and success of a huge part of the world economy and our ability to communicate digitally.
Know your coding language…
A good programmer will need to learn the relevant coding languages that make all of this functionality possible. There are many ways to achieve this, which we will run through in our steps to becoming a computer programmer:
1 Identify the career path that interests you.
2 Identify the coding languages that you’ll require.
3 Decide whether to learn at college, boot camp, or by yourself.
4 Project creation.
5 Start job searching.
Identify The Career Path That Interests You
If you’re interested in becoming a programmer, the first thing you need to work out is the career path that interests you. Focus on the reasons you want to be a coder, where you want programming to take you, and what exactly you want to accomplish or do.
Programming isn’t always solely focused on the tech sector. Programming jobs can be found in virtually every industry. Companies from all walks of life rely on programmers and developers to advance their businesses.
Once you’re fully qualified, the number of fields open to a gifted coder is almost endless. It could be financial services, artificial intelligence, governmental agencies, or even plain old agriculture. Whatever your area of interest, it pays to narrow it down, and remember that there is plenty of opportunity outside the tech sector.
Identify The Coding Language That You’ll Require
To do this effectively, it helps to work out what kind of programming interests you most, front end or back end. To start with, you’ll be learning basic skills that can be used in both, but down the line, it will become apparent that each group requires unique talents.
Front-end developers are focused on the parts of a website that people interact with. This would include a website’s appearance, the way it behaves, structural issues, and the content itself. Their main task is to ensure the site looks great and works as efficiently as possible, making it highly usable and responsive for all users.
Behind the scenes…
Back-end development deals with areas that users don’t see upfront on a website. These would generally be server-based elements of programming such as system components and data libraries. Their job is to write programs that will guarantee that the site’s functionality is up to the same standard as its visual appearance.
Working out which of these areas to focus on is important when determining which coding languages to learn throughout your education. The following are some of the languages you’ll need to learn for both ends of development, what’s known as a full-stack skill-set.
The Different Coding Languages
These are the three languages that are most commonly used in front-end development. All future programmers need to have a good understanding of all three. There are very few websites in existence that don’t use one of these languages in their site construction. Even if you don’t plan on becoming a web developer, these three are critical to learn for any potential programmer.
This is a programming language that’s also associated with front-end development, primarily with the creation of responsive mobile apps. This is a rapidly growing area of programming that’s only going to rise in importance as more and more people use their phones to gain access to the web.
Node.js and Express.js
Express.js is like a behind-the-scenes manager helping to process data requests from the front end and retrieving the relevant information from the back end libraries. Again, an important component to have in your back-end toolbox.
This open-source coding system allows multiple participants to work together on a project without the risk of overwriting each other’s work with an accidental save. This is invaluable to learn if you’re ever going to be working as part of a large team on the same project.
This coding language is a back-end tool for database management. Most websites are heavily reliant on large databases of information to help interactivity and fast retrieval of data. You may not be planning on having much to do with databases at all. Even so, a strong understanding of SQL is an important part of any programmer’s arsenal.
Decide Whether To Learn At College, Boot Camp Or By Yourself
Programmers can acquire the necessary skills and qualifications they need in a number of different ways. Whichever you choose will be based on your individual situation and how much time and money you have to play with.
Maybe you are looking to switch careers but need to hold down a full-time job whilst you learn to code. In this case, a part-time study may be your only option. Perhaps you are of college age and have the resources to put yourself through a full-time study course. Either way, there are many options open to learning at whatever speed you desire. Here are a few of the most popular paths an aspiring programmer can take.
The most common path to a career in programming is through a computer-related degree. A computer science degree is one of the more common degrees undertaken full stop these days. Almost 80,000 bachelor’s degrees in the subject were awarded in 2019 alone.
However, computer science isn’t the same as computer programming. Computer science focuses on computer systems, specifically their theory and design. If you opt for computer science as an aspiring programmer, you will have to undertake extra training in programming at some point.
Start with computer programming…
To give yourself the best chance of employment as a programmer straight out of college, you should opt for a degree in computer programming instead. Here you will learn the coding languages you’ll need to become a fully-fledged coder capable of pursuing the career path of your choice.
If time and money are a consideration, then perhaps college isn’t the right choice for you. Maybe a coding boot camp would make the most sense.
Boot-camps are intensive courses where you can learn the programming skills you’ll need in a much shorter time. Dedicated students can finish boot camp in as short a time as four months, although a year is a far more common time frame.
Students can choose the various components of programming they want to study and focus solely on those elements. This is great if you know what type of programming you want to eventually do for a living. For example, you could focus on full-stack development or solely on front or back-end programming.
The level of practical experience you can gain in a short space of time is the major selling point of a boot camp, as is the relatively low cost when compared to a four-year undergraduate degree. Boot-camps typically cost around $20,000 to complete. Boot camps are also a great choice for those looking to change careers quickly and who don’t have the spare time for a degree.
The other potential option is to learn the ropes yourself. There are a huge amount of online resources available to aspiring programmers these days. Tutorials, videos, books, and loads of free projects are all readily available.
Not many programmers take the self-directed route, but for those that possess the necessary discipline and commitment, it can be very rewarding to have learned the complexities of programming through the powers of your own research.
Motivation is crucial…
You can also go at your own pace if there are constraints on your time. Be warned, though. It takes a special kind of motivation to study like this, and only a few are likely to see it through the same level of achievement that those on a more traditional path manage.
An essential part of your way to becoming a successful programmer is to display your growing body of knowledge through creating your own coding projects. Future employers will want to see what you are capable of, and there is no better way of complimenting your CV than with a well-padded portfolio of individual projects that you’ve seen to a successful conclusion.
This is especially important for those who are taking the self-taught route. They are less likely to have as many project opportunities as those on the degree or boot-camp courses do. Constructing a mobile app or your own website are some of the more popular projects you can undertake.
Your Job Searching
In much the same way as you would in any other career, once your training is complete, you’ll need to compile all your qualifications, references, and achievements in a portfolio that’s publically accessible and attractive to prospective employers.
Hone your interview skills and make sure you’re presentable. Also, remember that your coding skills will be put to the test as part of any job interview. Make sure to stay on top of what you’ve learned in preparation for these moments. Attending programming events or coding conferences is also a great way to make connections and learn more about the industry.
For The Love Of Computers And Technology!
Let’s first check out my Computer Programmer Job Description, as well as my Is Computer Science A Good Major, or perhaps you’d like to know y How To Become A Computer Engineer, and finally is my Great Remote Computer And Tech Jobs and the Best Technology Companies, to see what your alternatives might be.
As far as online guides go, we recommend using the Computer Programming for Absolute Beginners, and the Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science, or how about Computer Programming: The Most Complete Crash Course, or The Art of Computer Programming and Computer Programming: Learn Any Programming Language in 2 Hours.
Furthermore, we also found Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software, the Introduction to Computation and Programming Using Python, as well as the Introduction to wxMaxima for Scientific Computations, and Computational Design Thinking, and lastly, the Thinking as Computation: A First Course, all available online in 2023.
Of course, if you’re all about the numbers game, then the Algorithmics of Matching Under Preferences, and Practical Discrete Mathematics: Discover math principles that fuel algorithms for computer science, along with the Data Structures and Algorithm Analysis in C++, the Computer Vision: Algorithms and Applications and The Algorithm Design Manual are the perfect handbooks for you!
As we’ve seen, there are many ways to become a successful computer programmer, and there’s a huge amount of potential for job satisfaction and impressive salaries in this field.
When thinking about the best way to become a computer programmer, don’t forget to consider all the educational options available to get the specific training you need. Then compare the various costs and the amount of time required for each option to see which is best suited to you.
Finally, don’t let indecision be your enemy. If you are serious about becoming a programmer, start the ball rolling today.
All the very best in your career as a Computer Programmer!
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