5 Steps to Become a Computer Programmer

Are you interested in becoming a programmer? I’ve explained the process to become a programmer in five simple steps in this article.

The Steps on How to Become a Programmer

A programmer is someone who writes code for software. It’s an enjoyable job, and also very popular. It’s the kind of role that many people associate with working in IT. Whenever I tell people I work in IT, many of them ask if I’m a programmer.

So, I’ve decided to summarise the steps that are involved in becoming a programmer in this article. Note that while the title of the article mentions “simple steps”, it’s the steps overall that are simple, not the work required. It’s not easy, you’ll still need to study and put in some work, but this is the general process you can follow if you’re looking up how to become a programmer.

1 – Choose a Language

The first step that I think should be taken to become a programmer is to decide what language you want to develop in. This is because it will determine what kind of role can get and what technology you work with.

For example, if you’re interested in learning Objective C, you might find this leads to a lot of iOS development jobs. If you’re looking to learn Java, you may find a lot of jobs building applications and middleware. Learning a database language could mean you become a database developer working on various systems, rather than working on developing web pages.

Is there a particular language that you’re interested in? If you’re not sure, that’s still OK. You can work this out based on the type of programmer you want to become. There are all kinds of programmers who work with many different languages, so you can start with the role type and then work out the languages, which is what we will look at in the next step.

2 – Look Up The Requirements for Entry Level Jobs

The next step in the process on how to become a programmer is to look up some entry-level programmer jobs and determine the requirements. Rather than me saying “go get this degree and apply for this kind of job”, I think it’s better to look up some jobs themselves and see what they require. This means you’re getting current information right from the companies.

There is almost always a section in the job description that says what is required of the applicant. This is what you should be looking for. They may contain things like:

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent – this is the main one. Education is an important part of getting a job, which is even more important for entry-level jobs. Many programmer jobs may require a degree, but some won’t.
  • x years experience working with these technologies – this explains that you need to have a certain amount of experience working with the technology or language.
  • excellent written and verbal communication skills – these skills are required for the job, and can actually be found on many job applications. It’s not something you can show with education, but may need to demonstrate it in an interview.
  • experience in x industry – some kinds of programmer jobs are in certain industries, and having experience in that industry can help you do better at the job.

Once you’ve had a look at the requirements for these jobs, it’s time to get educated in your chosen language.

3 – Get Educated In Your Chosen Language

The next step to become a programmer is to actually learn the language you’ll be using on the job. This can be done in many ways, thanks to the increased knowledge of the overall IT industry and the Internet.

There are many ways to get educated, and perhaps the most common one is to get a degree. A degree, in Computer Science or something related, is a common way that people can get started in the IT industry and get a job as a programmer. It’s how I got started too.

However, I understand that not everyone can get a degree, due to time, cost, and other factors. There are other ways that you can become a programmer without getting a degree.

You can take a short course on a particular language. These can be offered at colleges and other facilities in your area, so have a look at what’s available. They are shorter than a degree as they teach less subjects, and may only focus on programming and learning a language.

Learning online is another great way to learn a programming language. You can learn at your own pace, you get to choose what you want to learn, and sometimes even get to put the theory into practice.

In any case, you can learn how to program in a specific language using many methods, which is a must-do if you want to become a programmer.

4 – Start a Side Project

A side project is a good idea to add some extra experience to your career and resume. A side project is something you can do in your own time, once you have learnt the language and technology needed. This is so you can demonstrate that you have the required knowledge about a language, and can also practice programming in that language.

Some common side projects are:

  • Github – this is an online open source code repository, which you can contribute to by creating a new project or updating an existing one. Your profile on Github is a popular addition to a programmer’s resume.
  • Personal website – a great way to get your name out there or to practice your skills is to develop your own website. This can be anything from a personal website for information about yourself, or something more interactive and complicated. The aim is to demonstrate and practice your programming skills.
  • Custom application – similar to a Github project, you can write your own application to practice your skills. I wrote an application in Java to read files from all of my CDs and create a central database so I knew where to find things (this was before the time of large hard drives). Something you can use or something you have an interest in is a good place to start.

This side project is more important if you choose not to get a degree. Sure, a side project is always a good idea, but it is more important to show that you actually know the language and can prove it.

5 – Apply For a Job

The final step in this list is to actually go out and apply for a job.

You can use the same method in the earlier step to look for jobs. You’ll probably want to look for entry-level jobs, which are jobs that don’t have any experience requirement.

You can use websites such as Dice, Monster, Indeed, Career Builder, or any other job searching website to find these kinds of jobs. I’ve used Seek before, as I’m based in Australia. These sites should let you submit an application for the job on the website itself.

As part of this job submission process, you’ll need a resume and a cover letter. Your resume should include the education and experience that you’ve learnt for this language and how they are relevant for this role. The aim of a resume is to get you a job interview, so try to focus on the points in the job description when creating your resume. When writing a cover letter, customise it for this job and show your strengths.

Well, there are the steps on how to become a programmer. It can take a bit of work, but if you have the passion and dedication to it, there’s a good chance you’ll succeed. Programming is a great career and has many benefits, and seems to be in demand. Good luck for whatever path you take to become a programmer!