How to Become A Computer Programmer in 2023
Pursuing a career as a computer programmer can seem daunting. You need a lot of hard and soft skills, proper training, and the ability to continuously learn new things to stay relevant in a world with rapidly changing technology.
There isn’t a single clear-cut path to becoming a computer programmer. There are several paths computer programmers take to enter their field, and each comes with its own set of pros and cons.
Before you make the dive into a training program for computer programming, it’s essential that you understand what this role entails, the skills needed, and what options are available to you.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Computer Programmer?
Computer programmers write and test code in different programming languages that instruct computers to perform specific tasks. Computer programmers are tasked with writing and testing code that allows applications and software to operate correctly.
The role of a computer programmer might vary slightly depending on the project they’re working on and whether their focus is on front-end, back-end, or full-stack development.
Here are some typical responsibilities computer programmers have:
- Write programs in different computer languages, such as Java and C++
- Modify, update, and expand programs
- Test programs for errors and modify existing lines of code
- Write, modify, and test code for new, optimized, or simplified programs or software
Computer programmers often work side-by-side with software developers, and their responsibilities can overlap in some instances.
What Is The Earning Potential For Computer Programmers?
Some careers pay far more than others, and computer programmers tend to make a decent salary. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer programmers made $93,000 per year in 2021.
Entry-level positions in this field will generally pay around $60,000 per year. The highest-paid computer programmers easily make over $130,000 annually. This is a job with excellent earning potential, and there’s always a need for computer programmers.
It’s estimated this field will decrease in demand by 10% between 2021-2031, but this is likely due to the increase in remote work and freelancers who offer lower rates. Regardless, an experienced computer programmer with the right skills should have no trouble finding a position in this field.
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What Skills Do Computer Programmers Need?
Computer programmers need plenty of solid skills to be effective at their job. It’s not enough to simply pass a coding bootcamp or receive a degree in computer sciences. You must be able to meet the demands of every aspect of this job, which include technical (hard) skills and interpersonal/personal (soft) skills.
Here are some of the skills a computer programmer needs to succeed.
You will need solid technical skills to be a successful computer programmer. Having proficiency in different programming languages is vital for this position. You’ll be expected to write code for apps, software, and applications as a computer programmer. The ability to write, test, and modify code in different languages such as Java, C++, Python, and many others is essential.
The ability to analyze systems to determine how it works is equally important. You need to be able to analyze a system, collect information, and interpret that information to see where improvements or enhancements can be made.
It’s also helpful for computer programmers to have strong mathematics skills and some software development skills. The combination of these skills will make you an asset to any company you work for and help you perform your job in a way that meets and exceeds expectations.
While computer programming is unquestionably a very technical role, you must also have some soft skills to succeed. You’ll need the ability to think creatively and critically to solve problems, find opportunities for improvements, and keep up with changing technology. Problem-solving, communication, and the ability to be patient are skills that will serve a computer programmer well.
Communication skills are equally important because you may be working on a team where you need to collaborate with others. You’re also likely to be going through hundreds or thousands of lines of code to search for an error, so patience is critical in this position.
How To Become A Computer Programmer
Now that you understand what a computer programmer does and the skills they need, it’s time to move on to how to become a computer programmer. You can take different paths, so take these steps as a general outline, but not something set in stone.
Step #1 Choose Your Educational Program
The first step is to decide how you want to complete your education. Many computer programmers obtain a bachelor’s degree in computer science or information technology. This route will allow you to space out your education over four years, meet one-on-one with instructors, and collaborate with your peers.
However, college can be an expensive option, and many people don’t want to wait a full four years to get their degree. An alternative choice that’s become more popular is to attend a course through a coding bootcamp.
This is a short, intensive course, usually lasting between 4-6 months, that will teach you everything you need to know to get started. Coding bootcamps are less expensive than college and are an excellent way to start your career quickly.
Step #2 Pick A Specialization
Not all computer programmers fill the same role. There are different specialties to choose from, and picking yours early on in your career will help you build on your experience and become an expert in that role.
These are the three primary areas a computer programmer can specialize in:
– Front-end development- In this role, computer programmers focus on building, designing, and maintaining all aspects of websites and apps that users can interact with. You’ll work on interactive content, menus, color schemes, and more.
– Back-end development- Programmers in this role focus on the part of websites and apps that users can’t see. They focus on maintaining and optimizing website speed, database interactions, and ensure complex applications run smoothly.
– Full-stack development- This role encompasses all the tasks involved in front and back-end development.
Step #3 Develop A Portfolio
When your education is coming to a close, and you’re ready to start thinking about entering the workforce, developing a portfolio is an excellent way to get a leg up on other applicants.
A portfolio showcases a collection of your best work, so employers see your capabilities. A good portfolio can make the difference between your application being accepted or rejected, so make sure you take your time with this step.
Step #4 Get Hands-On Experience
The final step is to get some hands-on experience. This is the perfect time to apply for internships, offer to volunteer for a non-profit, or offer your services as a freelancer. While getting hands-on experience, you can add the projects you’re working on to your portfolio and begin applying to jobs in your field.
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Start Your Education With Coding Bootcamp
The path to becoming a successful computer programmer may look different for everyone, but one thing is sure. You need the proper training to succeed in this role, and coding bootcamp is an excellent way to get started. These courses are short, intensive, and a much more affordable option than college.
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