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How do I Become a Computer Programmer?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2016
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To become a computer programmer, there are three paths available: post-secondary education, website development, and open source-coding contributor. All these paths require an aptitude for math, creativity, logical processing, and a strong attention to detail. The amount of salary and types of opportunities for advancement depend on the path that you select.

Computer programmer is a broad term used to describe a wide range of positions. The technology used can be very different, but the basic requirements and job descriptions are fairly similar. A computer programmer is responsible for creating code in a variety of programming languages. This code is used to create software, utilities, websites and control functional modules.

Specialized training is required to become a computer programmer. Both colleges and universities offer programs in computer science and programming. Look at the different types of programs available and select one that meets your needs. Make sure that it offers a job placement or similar opportunity to increase your employability.

A university program will offer training in the different classes of programming and teach the basic languages. Community and career colleges teach specific languages that have been identified as areas of current and future demand. Many people complete a degree and then take additional courses in specific languages to improve their job prospects.

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Website development uses different programming languages than other types of programming. These languages are typically easier to learn and there are a wide range of books and manuals available to teach these languages to you. Look for resources on the web to learn the latest techniques needed to become a computer programmer.

Open source is a software or application that provides access to the code and the program for free. Computer programmers around the world contribute, edit, and share code to improve the product. Use these tools increases your knowledge. By contributing or editing to open source code, you have become a computer programmer.

The job of computer programmer requires lifelong learning. There are always new languages, techniques and resources available that need to be added to your skill set. Learn the fundamentals of computer programming and then be prepared to teach yourself throughout your career.

When looking for work as a computer programmer, list all the programming languages and techniques that you know on your resume. Be prepared to provide a portfolio of your work if you are a web programmer. Most employers will ask you to complete a programming test as part of the interview process. Refresh your skills before the interview to ensure a positive result.

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Discuss this Article

anon232128
Post 5

To be a computer programmer is good, but it does not really mean you are degree holder.

David09
Post 4

@allenjo - In my humble opinion, both positions are correct. In college I majored in something completely different but later on in life I became a computer programmer. I made this transition because I had learned how to become a computer programmer way before college, back as a teenager when I programmed in BASIC. Those were the early days of the computer revolution, when we were all boasting about having machines with 16K of RAM.

As my programming career developed, I had to learn things I would have known had I majored in computer science. For example, I missed out on database concepts, data structures, etc., and more importantly, understanding the most elegant way to solve a problem. So, I did have to learn this on my own, and continue to do so. It’s a lifelong learning experience, as mentioned in this article.

allenJo
Post 3

@miriam98 - I agree, but you’re still missing something without the degree, or at least some certification. We’ve brought in “qualified” job candidates for our programming positions and asked them to write recursive algorithms. All we got were blank stares.

miriam98
Post 2

This is a good article on becoming a computer programmer, but I’d like to toss in my two cents' worth here. Formal education is important, but ultimately employers care more about hands-on experience in a particular language than they do about your degree.

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