As our society becomes increasingly reliant on technology, programming and coding are quite attractive career paths. What’s not to love? It is fast-paced, diverse, and more high-paying job roles are opening up for coders. With that in mind, are you considering pursuing a career in the tech industry, or looking for a career change?
Well, the good news is that there is an array of reasonably priced resources available for just about anyone to learn the skill. The thing is, becoming a force to reckon with in the field requires specific skills and qualities. Plenty of coders will tell you that there is so much they wish they knew about coding before going down the path; hopefully, this article addresses that. So, the question of the day is, do you have what it takes to be a good coder?
Becoming a Coder
Despite what most people think, you do not need to be at the top of your math game or a university degree to become a coder. In fact, you do not even need to be fluent in English or be some sort of genius to delve into the world of programming. Nevertheless, before even thinking about becoming a good coder, it is probably a good idea to figure out what it entails to become a coder. The thought of programming is probably exciting, but you need to do some research. Start by figuring out what kind of programming you want to go into; there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Are you interested in becoming a back-end web developer, or does artificial intelligence sound like a viable path? The world of programming is so vast, so you have to seek some direction before you plunge in. Once that is taken care of, you still need to decide on the field you want to specialize in. You could go into mobile app development, become a web developer, data scientist, software programmer, and so much more.
The great thing is that more roles are created as the world advances technologically, so finding a field of interest does not necessarily put you in a box. Once you have figured out what you want to specialize in, it is only logical for you to learn a few programming languages needed in that area.
There are quite a few programming languages out there (HTML, Ruby, CSS, Python, Java, etc.), and no one expects you to learn them all. So, start with the languages you need in your field, and if you are interested in any others, you can take a swing at them.
Finally, you need to practice; coding involves a lot of problem-solving, and the only way to get better is through practice. You should equally build a solid portfolio because, with coding, no one is simply going to believe you are great at it if you do not have something to show for it. Altogether, this is how to become a good programmer for beginners and mildly experienced individuals who have been toying with the idea.
What it Takes to be a Good Coder
1. Problem-solving skills
There is a reason why most people believe that you need to have a good background in mathematics or sciences to become a good coder. You see, anyone who thrives in those areas has a keen sense when it comes to problem-solving.
At some point in their career, every coder will have to work on a bad line of code or fix a bug. While this is a barrier you can easily cross using sheer intuitiveness, problem-solving skills and logic play a significant role.
So, if you want to become a good coder, you have to sharpen your problem-solving skills. It helps to exercise them like you would with your muscles. Play games that involve problem-solving or approach real-life situations with a conditional thinking approach. Altogether, if you are not the best logical thinker, you may need to consider another career path.
It is easy to understand why anyone would get attached to a string of code they toiled to write. But, if you want to be a coder, you will have to wean yourself off this sentiment and accept that there will always be better ways to do things. Sure, you should not let anyone put you down, but you equally cannot be overprotective of your code. This could go a long way to damage your credibility, reliability, and even the quality of your work.
If someone points out a better way to approach a problem, by all means, throw your code out no matter how long it took you to write it. There is no room for sensitivity or sentimentality when it comes to coding. That is just the way the field is, so if you know you are sensitive and find it hard to take corrections, then this may not be the best route.
At the end of the day, what makes a good coder is the willingness to improve and build on your skill. If that involves seeing things from a colleague or superior’s perspective, then be ready for that.
3. Fast learning
When it comes to coding, you are at a disadvantage if you cannot learn at a steady rate. No one is saying that you need to assimilate information at lightning speed, but if it takes you ages to move from one level to another, then coding will be difficult for you. Every other day, a new coding language or some new technology pops up; thus, coders need to get acquainted with new knowledge to thrive in their respective fields.
Besides being a fast learner, a good coder needs to be self-sufficient. You are going to need to teach yourself outside work hours just to keep up at work. Obviously, even the best coders out there do not know everything, but you need to shove down as much knowledge as you can if you want to become proficient.
4. A thirst for knowledge
Being able to assimilate and process information fast is not enough to deem you a good coder. You have to go into this field acknowledging that you will be learning till the day you retire. Do not just acknowledge this fact; you should equally be excited about it.
If you are not a dedicated lifelong learner, then you will find it hard to be proactive. Your instructors and online resources can only get you so far. At some point, you have to chase after the knowledge for yourself. Whether this involves creating the right connections, attending the right events, or enrolling in the right classes, you have to be ready to look for ways to get better continually.
Programming is such a sought-out field that most people out there do not really know what they are getting themselves into before diving right in. It is not enough to want to do it diligently; ensure that you are ready to commit to becoming a lifelong student as you navigate your way through the trenches of this career path.
That being said, it will not seem like such a hassle if you have a genuine thirst for knowledge. The great thing about programming is that you do not need to be traditionally book smart to go after what you want. If you are genuinely interested, you will not mind learning new techniques, languages, or even how to use new tools now and then.
Many people consider themselves quite patient; after all, it is an excellent quality to embody in all areas of life. But you never know how patient you really are until you have pored over code for months, only to have to haul it out and start again. This is just one of the many issues coders encounter in the line of work.
Do not be deceived by the hackers you see on TV who clack away at their keyboards and break into some mainframe in mere minutes. Coding is hard, and you will get to a point where you want to bash your computer in and register for a real estate license.
Coding often involves obsessing over one minor problem for ages, then finally having an ‘aha’ moment out of the blues. So, you need to be patient with yourself and take solace in the fact that even people like Bill Gates and Ken Thompson have had to deal with the same frustration. Simply look at those hitches in the road as opportunities to become more creative and learn more.
6. Creative and critical thinking
Being logical and creative for one job role sounds like some sort of math problem, but if you cannot embody both, coding may not be your forte. To thrive as a programmer, your mind needs to be able to access every angle of a situation. You need to see beyond the surface and also visualize every step of the process. You see, when it comes to written code, the end game is often nothing tangible. It is merely a conceptualized location that the coder has to figure out a path to.
To achieve this, every coder needs to have the ability to think in more creative and penetrating ways. It is like charting a course to an imaginary location, and to do this, you have to create the entire journey. This involves a lot since coders have to create a link between independent processes and other aspects they need to be more hands-on with.
7. Good teamwork skills
Most of the coders on TV are socially awkward or geeky, recluse types, here lies another common misconception. In fact, coders need to have pretty solid people skills to thrive in the field. In programming, the saying ‘no man is an island,’ is more relevant than you can imagine. No matter how good you are at problem-solving or assimilating new information, you will need fresh eyes every now and then.
There is no set way to solve a problem, new and more viable code is being written every day and you are going to be stuck in the past if you cannot interact with other coders. Even more, most projects these days are a collaborative effort, being able to work well with your teammates is vital to your success. At the end of the day, the aim is to write code that produces a desired result. If you cannot reach the finish line, then all your work was futile.
If one of your peers holds one piece of the puzzle, then, by all means, collaborate. Who knows? You may end up learning much more than what you bargained for.
8. A keen eye for detail
One of the frustrating things about writing code is that one little mistake could halt your progress or cause even more damning problems. That is why coders have to develop their ability to read between the lines.
This involves more than a general awareness of what should go where, they also need to understand the link between each command with ninja-like precision. Everyone has their own way of building themselves up in this aspect, but for the most part, you should be able to objectively review your work and assess your processes after every task.
It may also help if you follow a structured schedule that is built around the times of the day when you are most productive. For some people, they are up and alert when the sun is up, but their battery dwindles as each hour passes. Others love the calm of the night and it invigorates them both physically and mentally. Get in tune with your body and try to work when you are most productive. It will make it easier to sight any limitations from a mile away.
If you read through this article and realized that you are ready to become a coder, that’s great news. Programming is the future and this is a great time to jump on board. On the other hand, if you are convinced you are not cut out for it, that is fine too. Though we can’t all become coders, you can still benefit from learning how to code. But keep this in mind, if you have got what it takes, there is no better time than now.
We assist both developers looking for work and companies looking to hire dedicated offshore developers across many technologies. Talk to us, learn more how Cloud Employee works, or see our Developer Pricing Guide.
Work with world leading tech businesses
We connect high-performing software engineer talent in the Philippines with some of the world’s leading and most innovative Tech companies.Submit CV