Most of us spend at least some time in front of a computer in relation to our jobs. Perhaps you may have wondered about being at the starting point of a piece of software rather than the endpoint user?
If you are considering a career change maybe programming is for you.
What do you need to know to be a good programmer?
If you do some research you will quickly become aware that there are many kinds of programming with loads of different computer languages. This is the first hurdle most people come to and for many, it can be the one which trips them up. How can they ever expect to learn all those different languages?
What most people don’t understand is that underneath all computer languages are pretty much the same. This is why a good programmer can learn the basics of a new language in a couple of weeks and be fluent in a month or two.
It is the first language that you learn which can be difficult. After that, it is plain sailing.
How do you know if you will be a good programmer?
You won’t know until you try. A good indicator is an analytical mind. When writing a computer program you need to be able to break how things work down into small parts and from this write several pieces of code for each of these parts and then put them all together as a whole.
Where can I learn to code?
If you are a student and have your parents paying for you Colleges and Universities are of course the first choice. You will learn a couple of computer languages over a couple of years and getting a recognised qualification.
But what if are already working and want to learn in your own time and for free? There are loads of websites where you can do this. I always liked Codeacademy but there are loads more. My next stop when learning something has always been YouTube. There are always dozens of videos up with people who will take you step by step through how to program. Obviously, some are better than others but this will be true of college as well.
What are the different kinds of programming?
There are many different kinds of programmer. Some of you will be writing software for businesses such as databases or accountancy programs. More will end up writing web or mobile apps like in the photo above while still others will become interface designers and front-end developers. There are many directions that programming can take you but everybody starts out taking the same first few steps.
Benefits of being a programmer
You don’t need a formal qualification to be a programmer. If you are good enough many employers will be happy to take you on without a qualification.
If you feel more comfortable with a recognised qualification you still don’t need to go to college for it. It is easy to arrange to sit for many of the recognised qualifications yourself. You can find the exam centres online, book in and just arrive and sit the exam. Pearson Vue (http://www.pearsonvue.com) is an example of a test centre.
Job Security. While you will probably move company every couple of years, there will always be another company looking for you to join them. In this day and age, there is no need to be unemployed if you are a programmer.
Travel. Many people use their programming to give them the opportunity to travel and work in different countries.
Salary. Even a beginner salary is fairly good and you can expect that to grow on a yearly basis.
Opportunity. Many programmers move up the ladder as time goes on. They start running their own teams, projects, and departments. Others specialise in programming for certain industries such as gaming, insurance, or banking.
Learning. Why is this a benefit? I have always found that any day you are learning something new always goes faster and stands to you further down the line whether applying for a new role or a larger salary.
Fun. Programmers normally love coding. (Not always of course). As a programmer, you get to do something you love doing and get well paid for it. You also get to hang out with a bunch of other people like yourself with the same interest and this is always fun. We have found that when you stick a bunch of programmers together who are super involved in their families, gaming, or sports and seemingly have nothing in common, they still have loads to talk about.
Can everyone be a programmer?
Not everybody can be a programmer. I was over 40 when I started and within a few months was writing small programs. Others were not able to get their heads around how programming worked by the time the course finished. They were intelligent people but their minds didn’t run the right way for being a programmer.
You shouldn’t despair if you are not ‘Getting IT’ from the start. You can be training for quite a good while when you are reading a piece of code and suddenly, it just makes sense!
I would recommend C#, Java, Python or Ruby as starting languages. Once you know one of them the others are easy to learn. Learning HTML, CSS and some PHP is also a good idea. These play a part with websites and are good to know.
Being a programmer can be a great role. There is great job security at the moment, decent salaries, and also lots of opportunities to travel the world. Some people will go out on their own and start their own businesses, maybe becoming the next Google or Facebook. Others will use their coding as a stepping stone to gain promotions in-house. If you are looking for a new role you should definitely consider becoming a programmer.
Greenfinch Technology always has their eye out for new talent. Have a look at our Careers Page and think about sending in your C.V.