How To Become a Programmer: The Definitive Guide

The process of becoming a programmer is a long and challenging yet rewarding one. It can also be fun if done right!
Chris Kriegel
02 Dec, 2019

How To Become a Programmer

We all know that learning programming requires hard work. The problem is many guides on how to become a programmer try to intimidate the readers. Or they suggest them to enroll themselves in expensive programs in their local university. But, that’s not what we want.

We want to tell you how you can hone up your programming skills without spending much! So, let’s see how to become a computer programmer at a reasonable price.

10 Easy Steps to Becoming an Expert Programmer

We’ve covered all that you need to know about how to become a programmer. We’ll be going through all the basics in detail so that you have no problems! Let’s see the ten easy steps of this rewarding journey!

1. Make a Goal and Strictly Follow It

Of course, the first step is to be a hundred percent sure about becoming a programmer. So before starting, think the whole thing through and commit to it fully. Know that the learning curve will be tricky and you might find the first few lessons tough.

However, once you learn the basics, you’ll find programming quite fun. In fact, it gets easier from then on. Start by going through the materials available. If you find it interesting and you’re sure you won’t be giving it up any time soon, then look into it seriously.

2. Choose Your Programming Language

The next step is to pick the ideal programming language you wish to learn. This is probably the toughest decision, and you must consider all aspects before choosing one. Some popular options nowadays include JavaScript, Ruby on Rails, Python and Java. While there are numerous options, the key is not to be overwhelmed.

You can start by focusing on one language. Don’t start by learning two or more from the beginning. Once you have a solid hold over one of them, then you can move to another one.

Remember, you must be patient. You must learn all the fundamentals without skipping a thing. We recommend starting off with Ruby on Rails. Not only is it efficient, but it is also easier than a few other languages as well. Plus, since it is open source, there’s a huge community of developers available. So, you can get access to many resources free of cost.

3. Practice As Much As Possible

The next step in how to become a programmer is to practice. Regardless of the language you select, only practicing it will help you learn. There’s no shortcut. Fix a timeframe for practicing every day. It is necessary that you keep trying out different codes no matter what happens. If you don’t understand a certain part, check out the guides or tutorials available online.

It’s not as difficult as it appears. According to experts, students can take four months to ten months to learn a language. So, get to practicing!

4. Learn About Programming Tools & Become A Pro

Finding the best tool you’re completely comfortable with can help you a lot in your practical life. For example, Codecademy is a great free resource platform. You only have to type into a browser, and you’ll be scored according to your performance. But that’s not what a programmer really does.

You can make use of these free resources to learn. However, you must use the tools that programmers use for practicing. Some great choices for Ruby on Rails include Opal, Breakman, Bullet, Hobo, and Pry. Meanwhile, for PHP, some ideal tools are Netbeans, Eclipse, and PHPStorm. You’ll find numerous tutorial videos on the net with which you can learn how to use these tools effectively.

5. Learn How to Read Code

Most people tend to skip this step. However, a good programmer can read the existing code and then modify it accordingly. Once you can read the code, you can work out how the program works. This also fastens up your learning process. You can use documentation like GitHub to get the existing code and then debug it to learn how it runs. Select only one and make your way through every line. Once you are proficient in it, you can write code on your own.

6. Become the Part of a Community

One essential part of how to become a programmer is to join a community. In fact, choosing one can prove to be great for you. As a part of a community, you get the push needed to succeed o this arduous journey. Plus, working in a group makes the learning process quite painless.

If you’re stuck on a problem, you can easily ask for help. While in-person groups are great, they aren’t always available. Thus, try to stick to online communities where support is available 24/7. As a start, you can opt for the Reddit, Stack Overflow, and The DEV community. All of these have a range of programmers ranging from beginners to experts.

7. Make Use of Your Projects & Build Them

While watching tutorials or videos is fun, just doing that won’t be any good. Thus, the next step should be to use your acquired skills for building a project. Before you join a group, try out a solo project first. Once you have made some successful programs, join a group for working on tasks together.

8. Work on Your Timings

While it’s great that you can build projects yourself, if it takes you quite a lot of time to complete a project, then you must polish your skills. To make a career out of your computer programming skills, you need to be highly productive. You’ll be a part of numerous projects and maintaining all together can be difficult if you’re slow. So, the next step is to make yourself faster.

9. Learn Other Languages

Once you master one language, start working on the others. Only sticking to one won’t be enough. In fact, becoming an expert in more than one language can open up huge opportunities for you. While it’s a lot of work, it can be highly beneficial for your future!

10. Have Your Own Professional Network

Building projects or becoming part of a community helps expand your network. Most people wish to learn programming because they want a career change.

Whether it’s for a well-established career or freelancing, building a network ensures the success of your skills. In fact, most new programmers are hired this way. You can volunteer at events, attend meetups, or even start a blog. These ways are ideal for spreading the word about the programming market.

Are There Certain Programming Languages I Must Learn?

If you’ve just started coding, you must be wondering which programming language is the best to learn. Or you might be a coding veteran looking to try a new language.

So, how can you decide which one you want to learn? You’ll be learning many programming languages through your career. Still, it’s best to prioritize one by thinking about the projects you want to do first. Here’s how you can decide:

Key Points

Choosing a language to learn often feels like the final decision which you’ll be stuck with for long. However, that’s not the case at all. While feeling this is normal, remember that many seasoned developers are proficient in many different languages.

While one program might require Ruby, another one may need C++. So, regardless of the language, you begin with, it won’t be the last one. Since developers are lifelong learners, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with more than one programming language throughout your career.

Languages are Often Similar

Of course, each language has different rules and syntax, and is designed to tackle certain problems. The good thing is that all of them share some concepts and similarities too. So, when learning one language, the next one becomes much simpler to learn since you’ll have the basics.

Famous Programming Languages

You’ll find quite many job opportunities once you learn some of these. Your location is another major factor in determining which one to choose. For instance, if you’re in a small town which just a couple of tech companies, then C++ will be the most useful for you.

Some remote developers and freelancers also opt for specializing in languages that are less widely used. So, they do well as an expert in a language that many others don’t know. However, as a beginner, it is better to start with a mainstream programming language.

In terms of job openings, you must consider the future prospects of your chosen language. For instance, Objective-C might not be the best idea since more iOS developers are opting for Swift, something that Apple is investing in.

Of course, it’s difficult to determine which one is on the rise and which will become obsolete soon. Thus, it’s best to stay in the loop, pay attention, and research. Go through job search sites to know the languages that tech giants are getting into.

Which Technology Interest You?

Before deciding a language to choose, also think about the technology you’re most interested in. Selecting the technology first makes picking out a language much easier. So, if you want to build MacOS or iOS apps, you should start with learning Swift. Similarly, to create Android apps, you should start learning Java which is the official Android development language.

Furthermore, for game development, it is best to learn C-based languages. All this is proof that it’s best to choose a language keeping in mind what you’re interested in. Plus, enthusiasm for technology also helps you work through the difficult times during the learning curve.

Our Recommended Famous Programming Languages in 2019

Famous Programming Languages


Since it is already built into the web browsers, this requires the least setup to get you started. Moreover, its syntax is comparatively easy. Learning JavaScript is essential if you want to make incredibly interactive things for web browsers.


Python is famous for its great capabilities despite its simplicity. There’s not too much strictness about the syntax, and the code is easy to read too. So, to get started with Linux, this is the language to learn.


This is surely one of the most famous programming languages. It also enforces object-oriented principles that are often used in modern languages like Python, C++, and PHP. It is also used for various purposes and is truly a practical language.


The most popular and widely used programming language is C. It is a machine-level language that forms the foundation of Linux. With C, you can learn how a certain program interacts with the hardware. You can also learn the programming fundamentals at the lowest level. However, coding in C is quite strict and also has quite a steep learning curve. So, while you’ll learn how to code efficiently, it’ll take time to learn enough of C to program anything useful.

Helpful Tips for Your Programming Journey

Now that you know how to become a programmer, the following are tips that can help you along the way:

Code When You Can

While learning more than one language has its benefits, it has drawbacks too. If you stop coding once you’ve learned a language, your hard work will be of no use. So, you must practice your skills when you get the chance.

Try Challenging Yourself

You can’t become an expert if you don’t give yourself a challenge from time to time. Pushing yourself is an ideal way of mastering your newly acquired skill in a short time.

Contribute Something to Communities

There are many open-source communities out there. Contributing something there can be a significant milestone. This helps to improve your programming skills and makes you part of a bigger community too.

Team up with Programmers

Partnering with skilled programmers is also another great trick of becoming an expert. Since they have more knowledge, they can guide you well.

Realize Your Specialty

Every programmer is not proficient in all languages you know. In fact, most people are the best at only a couple of languages. So, knowing your specialty will benefit you greatly when it comes to group projects.

Stay Up-To-Date

Staying updated with the latest developments is essential. Do extensive research or read books to learn new coding tricks. Since technology changes rapidly, staying up-to-date will be highly advantageous.

FAQ Section

How Much Time is Needed to Become a Programmer?

Generally, it takes two years for students with a bachelor’s degree to complete their master’s degree in computer programming. The master’s program introduces more complex subjects compared to those covered in bachelor’s or associate programs.

What Educational Qualifications Are Needed to Become a Programmer?

Most employers demand programmers to have a bachelor’s degree. The degree could be for fields like information systems, mathematics, and computer science. However, there are some jobs that require a master’s degree.

Is It Necessary to Have a Degree for a Programming Job?

While many computer programmers have a bachelor’s degree, some employers hire employees with an associate degree. Plus, if you want to become a network architect, then you will need a computer science degree.

What’s the Salary of an Entry-Level Programmer?

The average annual salary for entry-level programmers goes as high as $80,500 and as low as $20,000. Currently, a majority of salaries for entry-level programmers across the US ranges from $35,000 to $62,500.

Final Thoughts

Once you are a skilled programmer, the tech world will surely appreciate you. The truth is; the demand for a skilled programmer won’t slow down at least in the near future.

So, it is possible for you to hone your skills and build a great career. Ultimately, if you wish to succeed, make sure you follow our guide closely!

Published: December 02, 2019 | Updated: 02 Dec, 2019December 02, 2019
02 Dec, 2019
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