Learning programming is hard work, we know that. Most guides explaining how to become a programmer may try to intimidate you or even suggest taking up expensive university programs! Not here - in this short guide we will help you hone your programming skills on a budget!
Many people nowadays are becoming master programmers without any official degree and getting lucrative job offers in the process. Hopefully, you’ll be one of them! Without further ado, let’s start our guide on how to become a programmer:
How to Become a Programmer: 10 Steps to Help You Become a Pro
Step #1: Specify Your End Game and Stick To It
The first step in knowing how to become a programmer is to be absolutely sure about it. Before starting the process you need to think it through and completely commit to it. The learning curve may be scary and the first lessons may be difficult. Hey, nothing in life is trouble-free.
However, once you're past the basics, you'll start to enjoy programming. From there, it gets easier!
Start by interacting with the materials beforehand. If programming feels interesting or you think you won't give up after some time then you should certainly look into it more seriously. Changing a career or starting from scratch all over again is not painless. However, you may actually enjoy this!
Step #2: Select the Programming Language You Want To Learn
The second step of how to become a programmer is choosing the perfect programming language you want to learn. This is the most difficult decision, and you should always consider everything before going for one.
SQL, Ruby on Rails or even Python are exceptionally popular nowadays. You'll get many options to choose, just don't let it overwhelm you.
Start by focusing on one particular language. Avoid learning two or three languages right from the start. After you have built up a solid background, you can move on to another language.
Patience is the key here! You need to learn all the fundamentals without skipping anything.
We'd recommend Ruby on Rails. It's far easier than some other languages and very efficient too! Another plus point is that it's open source and has a large community of developers. So, you’ll get access to a lot of resources for free.
Step #3: Start Practising Real Hard
The next part of how to become a programmer is practice. No matter what language you choose, you’ll only learn it through practice. There’s no shortcut in between.
Start by practising every day for a certain amount of time. It’s important that you keep going at it no matter what. You can check out tutorials or other guides available on the internet if you can’t understand a specific part.
It’s much easier than you might think. Experts say it might take a student 4-10 months to learn a language based on their studying time.
So start practising now!
Step #4: Find out What Tools Programmers Use and Be a Pro
This is one of the most important steps of our how to become a programmer guide. Finding the right tool that you’re comfortable with will help you implement it in real life.
For instance, Codecademy is one of the greatest free resource platforms. However, you'll only be typing into a browser and get scores based on your performance. That isn’t truly what a programmer does in real life.
So, what’s the catch:
You can use free resources to learn, but in practice, you'll need tools that programmers use. For example, if you want to start learning Ruby on Rails then Pry, Hobo, Bullet, Breakman, Opal, etc. are great choices.
For PHP, you can go for PHPStorm, Eclipse, Netbeans, and many more. There's a lot of tutorial videos available that'll teach you how to use these tools efficiently in no time.
Step #5: Learn To Read Code
Most people searching for how to become a programmer skip this vital step. A good programmer knows how to read existing code and modify it accordingly.
Pretty cool, right?
Once you learn how to read code, you’ll be able to figure out how the program runs. It’s another superb trick to speed up your learning process.
You can try out GitHub or other documentation to get existing code and debug them to know how the program is running. Just choose one and go through line by line. Once you get the hang of it, create it on your own.
It’ll help you understand the process much better.
Step #6: Join a Community
If you ask us, how to become a programmer. We’ll say, “Join a Community!”
Choosing a community can be the best deal for you. When you're a part of a community, you'll get the push you need to succeed on this long and sometimes arduous road. Working with a group makes the learning process painless.
If you get stuck, you can get help to solve the problem. Although in-person groups are great, they might not be available all the time, that’s why you should try out online communities where you’ll find support 24/7.
We recommend using Stack Overflow, Reddit, and The DEV community as a start. These communities have a wide range of programmers starting from beginners to advanced level.
Step #7: Start Using Your Skills and Build projects
We know that watching videos or tutorials online can be fun. Then again, simply watching them won’t do you any good.
That’s why the next phase of our how to become a programmer guide is to use your skills to build a project.
Try out solo projects first before joining a group. After few successful projects, you can join a group and work on a project together!
Step#8: Improve Your Timing
It’s great that now you can build projects on your own, but if it takes you too long to complete a simple project then you need to polish up your skills.
If you want to build a career around your newly developed skills, you need to be as productive as you can. You'll be working on many projects and to maintain the same amount of output simultaneously can be difficult if you lack the speed.
It’s an important factor of our how to become a programmer guide and you should definitely follow it.
Step #9: Learn More Than One Language
Once you’ve mastered a language you should go for other languages too! Sticking to one language isn’t enough nowadays.
Being a pro in more programming languages will open up big opportunities for you in the future.
We know it’s a lot of work, but this can seriously benefit you greatly in the near future.
Step #10: Build Your Own Professional Network
Joining a community or building projects will surely help you grow your network. Well, the end goal is to have a career, right?
Most people looking for a guide on how to become a programmer wants to learn it because they want to change their career. We’re pretty sure, you’re on the same page here.
Whether it's for a freelancing job or for a well-established career, building network will ensure the success of your programming skills. Most new programmers get hired through this method.
You can go to meetups or volunteer at an event or even start your very own blog. These are awesome ways to spread the word about the market.
Which Programming Language Should I Learn?
If you’re first starting out on your coding journey, you, like many others, have probably asked yourself the million dollar question: which programming language should I learn? Or maybe you’re already a coding veteran looking to stay fresh by trying out a new language.
So exactly how do you decide which language to tackle? While it’s likely that you’ll be learning several programming languages over the course of your career, it’s best to prioritize by thinking about what kind of projects you want to build first. Remember that once you learn one language, it’ll be much easier to move onto other languages.
Key Points to Remember
It’s not a final decision
Choosing a programming language to learn first often feels like a final decision that you’ll be stuck with your whole life, but this simply isn’t so! While this is a perfectly normal feeling most people have, keep in mind that most seasoned developers are well-versed in several different languages.
One project may call for Ruby whereas another may require you to learn C+! Whichever language you start off with, rest assured that it likely won’t be the last. Developers are lifelong learners, so expect to dabble in more than one language throughout your coding career!
Programming languages are often similar in some ways
Sure, different programming languages often come with varying syntaxes and rules and each is crafted to solve unique problems, but the good news is that all languages also share some important similarities and concepts.
When you learn one language, it makes learning the next far simpler, as you’ll have these basic coding concepts down.
Currently, some of the most popular programming languages include:
If you start off learning one of these omnipresent programming languages, you’ll find a much larger pool of jobs.
Of course, your location is another factor in which language you ultimately choose. If you happen to live in a small town in Georgia, for example, where there are only one or two tech companies that happen to primarily use C+, then it would be wise to learn that language, unless you’re willing to relocate.
Some freelance and remote developers choose to specialize in less widely used languages and do well being an expert in knowing a language many others don’t. However, if you’re just starting out, it’s best to stick to a more mainstream programming language.
In the context of job outlook, another important thing to consider is the future prospects of the programming language you choose. For example, learning Objective-C right now is probably not the best idea, simply because more and more iOS developers are switching to Swift, a language that tech giant Apple is heavily investing in.
It can be difficult to predict which languages are on their way in or out, but just pay attention and do your research. Check out job search websites for what languages are hot and what big companies are using or getting into.
What Tech are You Interested In?
Before going crazy trying to decide what programming language to choose from, take some time to think about what technology you’re personally interested in. By choosing a technology first, selecting a language may be easier.
As mentioned earlier, you should start out learning the Swift programming language if your goal is to build iOS and macOS apps. If you want to get into creating Android apps, then you would want to set your sights on learning Java, the official language for Android development.
Want to get into game development? A quick Google search will tell you to focus on C-based languages. So, as you can see, it certainly doesn’t hurt to select a programming language based on what you are most interested in as a developer. Enthusiasm for technology, whether it’s iOS apps or game development, is a good thing and will help push you through rough patches in the learning process.
Recommended Most Popular Programming Languages
This language requires the least amount of setup to get you up and running with since it’s already built into web browsers. It has relatively forgiving syntax and is a must-have skill if you want to start making cool interactive things for the web.
It’s known for its simplicity and great capabilities. The code is fairly easy to read and isn’t overly strict about syntax. This is a great language if you want to get your feet wet with Linux.
Java is definitely one of the most popular programming languages out there and enforces object-oriented principles used in modern languages like C++, Perl, PHP, and Python. It’s been taught for decades, used for a variety of purposes (such as Android app development), and is overall a practical language to learn.
C is probably the most popular and widely used programming language. It’s the foundation for Linux/GNU and is a “machine level” language, so you’ll be learning how a program interacts with the hardware and the fundamentals of programming at its lowest level. That said, coding in C is stricter and has a steep learning curve. While it’ll teach you how to write efficient code, it’ll take a while to learn enough to make anything useful.
How to Become a Programmer: Tips to Help You along the Way
- Code Whenever You Get the Chance: Learning two or more languages has its perks along with negative aspects as well. After learning a language if you stop coding, all of your hard work would be in vain. Thus, you need to code or practice all your skills accordingly.
- Challenge Yourself: There’s no way to become a pro if you don’t challenge yourself. Pushing oneself is one of the best ways to master a skill within a short amount of time.
- Contribute To Communities: There's a lot of open-source communities available online now. Contributing to them can be a new milestone for you. Not only will this improve your skills, but you would also get to be a part of a larger community.
- Pair Up With Other Programmers: Pairing up with skilled programmers is another excellent trick to become a pro. As they already have greater knowledge, they can help you out with a lot.
- Know Your Specialty: Not every programmer is best in every language you know. Most people have one or two skills that they are best at, compared to others. Finding your speciality will help you with team projects.
- Always Be Up-to-date: Nothing beats being up-to-date. Read books or research more to learn new techniques of coding. The world of technology changes rapidly and being up-to-date would be a plus point.
Our Final Thought:
If you can become a skilled programmer, then you'll be greatlfy appreciated in the tech world. The demand for skilled programmers isn't slowing down anytime soon.
So, you can use your skills to build yourself a great career indeed. Our guide of how to become a programmer will bring you benefits in the long run!
If you want to succeed, then make sure you follow every step of our guide! Good luck out there!