How to Become a Programmer

Contact Me

Who doesn’t want to become a software engineer? I’ve been in this business for more than 20 years, and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. And the pay is quite good, with standard salaries ranging from $60,000-$100,000 per year.

But what does a programmer do, in the first place? In a nutshell, a programmer turns a dream into reality. He or she takes other people’s ideas and concepts, and then writes hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of lines of code, which are then transformed into an application that does the requested job.

Most programmers are able to create applications that run on personal computers, tablets, phones, the web, and so on. But their jobs don’t stop here! Once that their programs work, the same programmers are responsible for fixing the bugs and upgrading the software, adding new features to it.

The good news is that programmers are – and have always been – in great demand. The number of programming jobs is constantly increasing; that’s a blessing in comparison with many other industries, which are slowly dying. And it looks like the top 3 US states with the highest job growth in this sector are Louisiana, Wyoming and Washington.

If you want to become a programmer, you’ll have to follows some steps and take some decisions.

Begin by choosing a programming language that’s easy to learn. For many people, Ruby is the first option. The idea is to see if programming is for you (or not). By playing with an easy to understand programming language, you will start to think like a developer. Or, you will understand that programming isn’t for you, and you will consider exploring a different career.

Continue by practicing a lot. Great programmers are people who have learned the programming language basics, and then they have played with code for thousands of hours. There simply isn’t a better method to learn how to code!

If you dislike the idea of coding for (let’s say) ten hours a day, it’s crystal clear to me that you’d do much better by picking a different job. But if you simply love to see some rigid programming instructions being turned into elegant applications that do everything that’s requested from them, put in those 10,000s hours of coding work that are required, according to most programming experts, to become an expert.

Of course, sometimes it will be hard to understand a particular programming concept or code snippet. This is why you need to learn how to (and love to!) read other people’s code. There are thousands and thousands of code examples written by others and posted on the web, and many of them will prove to be extremely valuable for your projects as well.

So, whenever you get stuck, browse through the GitHub repositories and learn from the masters. It’s all 100% free!

Then, find a community of people who are passionate and interested in the same programing language that you intend to use. This way, you will find help whenever you get stuck. From my experience, most programming communities are very friendly. I have met some stiff guys along the way, but they’re definitely a minority in the programming world.

This leads us to the following step: grow your professional network. Join LinkedIn, for example. It’s a social media network that was built for professionals, so it will provide lots of opportunities. Go to related meetups, start a programming blog, and try to become a speaker for small-scale events; all these things will help you get more exposure.

If this sounds like a lot of work, well… it is! It’s much easier to get a regular 9 to 5 job selling groceries at a local store, for example. But if you simply love programming, I bet that you will put in all the required hours, dedication and learn the needed skills.

You don’t have to study programming at the university to get hired by some of the biggest companies in the world. It’s a job that requires hard work, I agree, but it’s one that can make and keep you happy forever.