28 Tips to Become a Successful Programmer

Successful Programmer: Becoming a programmer is a cumulative process that builds up your skills day after day and year after year.

And programming can be fun and rewarding (mentally, spiritually and financially).

This guide does not promise to give a magically easy way to becoming a programmer.

And the ordering of the steps is not sacred.

But you’ll get a general outline of how to become a programmer in one of the modern programming fields.

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What Does a Computer Programmer Do?

Computer programmers work with software developers and engineers to turn ideas for programs into code.

Using computer languages such as C++ and Java.

They write and troubleshoot new programs and applications for errors.

Fix mistakes in the code, and update and maintain existing programs or software.

They may also create and use code libraries to make programming easier.

As a computer programmer, you would have a strong knowledge of areas such as computers, electronics and mathematics.

Successful Programmer

Successful Programmer: What Is a Computer Programmer?

Computer programmers are technical specialists who write a logical sequence of instructions or ‘code’ that can control a computer.

This code produces a predetermined output from a given set of inputs.

Programmers’ work consists of writing the base code then conducting a cycle of test runs, corrections, revisions.

And more test runs until they’ve eliminated most errors or ‘bugs’ and implemented the desired feature set.

They also often diagram a program’s work flow during the design phase.

Finally, they maintain program code and resolve problems as they occur.

The category is roughly divided into two types, application programmers and system programmers.

Application programmers write programs that perform a specific category of tasks.

System programmers write programs that maintain and control computer networks, databases or operating systems.

Successful Programmer:

1. Successful Programmer:Take an introductory course in one (or all of them) of the following disciplines:

  • Logic
  • Discrete mathematics
  • Programming language (take a part into the different programming paradigms, starting from sequential/procedural to object oriented, after functional and logical programming. Preferable Ruby/ Python/Pascal for beginners and after some good understanding go deeper into C++/C#/Java )

2.  Successful Programmer: Get a High School Education

You can prepare to become a computer programmer.

By taking whatever programming or computer science courses are available at your high school.

You could also benefit from taking courses in algebra, trigonometry, geometry, chemistry and physics.

Such classes as English and social studies would get you ready for the general education requirements in college.

3: Successful Programmer: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Most computer programmers have a bachelor’s degree.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

You may consider majors in computer science or computer information systems, among others (www.bls.gov). However, if you want to write business, engineering or scientific applications.

Then you might want to take background courses in those subjects.

Many schools will allow you to study them as a minor.

A bachelor’s degree program in computer science will teach you about using different programming languages.

Through the creation of algorithms. Java, C++ and Visual Basic may be among the languages you learn to use.

Courses might also cover database management, computer networks and operating systems.

Programs in computer information systems have considerable overlap with computer science programs.

But the former are more oriented towards adapting and applying information to the operational needs of businesses and other organizations.

Courses address organizational structure and management, enterprise applications and computer security in addition to computer programming.

Successful Programmer

4. Successful Programmer: Learn database concepts such as tables, views/queries and procedures.

You can use any simple database package to do this, such as:

  • MS Access
  • DB V
  • Fox Pro
  • Paradox
  • MySQL is a good database to learn because it’s free, commonly used, and databases are commonly accessed with SQL queries

 5. Successful Programmer: Choose a Specialization

You may consider specializing in a particular area of programming, such as database development or Web development.

The first involves writing programs that store, retrieve and manipulate data for databases.

The second entails building applications that run over the Internet or an organization’s Intranet.

According to the BLS, new applications for mobile devices and the healthcare industry.

And an increase in computer systems being built into non-computer products may cause some job growth for computer programmers.

6.Successful Programmer:Decide what type of programmer you want to be.

Programmers generally fall under one of the following categories:

Web programmer

Desktop application programmer

Operating system (OS) oriented programmer(tied to a single operating system or set of operating systems)

Platform-independent programmer

Distributed applications programmer

Library/platform/framework/core programmer

System programmer

Kernel programmer

Driver programmer

Compiler programmer

Programming scientist

7.  Successful Programmer:Participate in an Internship

Gaining experience in the industry can help you acquire entry-level jobs.

The BLS states that employers look for applicants with relevant experience and programming skills.

You may find internship opportunities through your bachelor’s degree program.

Some companies, like consulting firms, will put you through intensive training programs upon hiring.

Previous experience can also prepare you for voluntary certifications.

8. Successful Programmer: Know what Web programming entails.

Web applications are software components designed to work on top of the internet architecture.

This means that the applications are accessed through a web browser software such as Firefox or Internet Explorer.

Being built on top of the Internet architecture does not necessarily require an active connection to the internet.

It means that Web applications are built on top of standard web technologies such as:

  • HTTP
  • FTP
  • POP3
  • SMTP
  • TCP
  • IP protocols
  • HTML
  • XML
  • Coldfusion
  • ASP
  • JSP
  • PHP

9. Successful Programmer: Consider Certification Options

You don’t need to be licensed to work as a computer programmer.

But you’ll have many options to choose from for voluntary certification.

For example, the Institute for Certification of Computer Professionals confers the Certified Computing Professional

And the Associate Computing Professional designations.

Microsoft also offers a variety of certifications, such as Microsoft Certified Application Developer and Microsoft Certified Solution Developer.

10.Browse many diverse websites to learn about how they usually look.

Right click, then click View Source or press F12.
Look for diversity in the type/content of the website, not the quantity of websites visited.
Generally, you will need to visit at least one of each of the following types of websites:
Corporate presence sites (commercial corporations, not-for-profit corporate/organizations, governmental organizations)
Web indexing engines (search engines, meta search sites, specialized search engines, directories)
Data mining sites
Personal sites
Informational/encyclopedic pages (wikis, data sheets, technical specifications, and manuals listing directories, blogs and journals, news and news agencies sites, yellow pages, etc.)
Social sites (social portals, bookmarking sites, note-taking sites)
Collaborative sites (this includes other categories mentioned above, such as wikis and blogs)

11.Successful Programmer:  Learn at least one server-side programming language.

If you choose to restrict yourself to one server software,.
Learn one of the programming languages supported by that software.

If not, learn at least one programming language on each server software.

Successful Programmer

12. Know what you’re getting into with desktop application programming.

Most desktop programmers write code for business solutions, so getting an idea about businesses, their organizational and financial structure will be a big time-saver

13. Learn about the different computer hardware architectures.

An introductory level course in digital circuits design and another in computer architecture is useful.

However, some see it as being advanced for a starting point.

So reading two or three tutorial articles (such as this one and this one) might suffice.

Then you can go back to this step later, after you learn your first programming language.

Successful Programmer

14. Learn an entry-level (kids’) programming language.

Don’t be shy to learn such a language just because you’re older than being called a “kid”.

An example of these programming languages can be Scratch.

These programming languages can ease up the pain in learning your first programming language tremendously. However, this step is optional.

It can also be done before the preceding step

15. Successful Programmer: Start writing some small console or console-like applications.

You can make use of common small exercises in programming languages books.

For this, choose a tool for writing programs in the programming language you are writing in.

 16. Take a more advanced course in your chosen programming language.

 Make sure you understand the following concepts well.

And that you can apply them with relative ease before going forward:

  • Inputting and outputting information to users of a program.
  • The logical flow and the execution flow of programs in procedural languages.
  • Declaring, assigning and comparing variables.
  • Branching programming constructs such as if..then..else and select/switch..case.
  • Looping constructs such as while..do, do..while/until, for..next.
  • Your programming language syntax for creating and calling procedures and functions.
  • Data types and manipulating them.
  • User defined data types (records/structs/units) and their use.
  • If your language supports overloading functions, understand it.
  • The memory accessing methods of your language of choice (pointers, peeking, etc.)
  • If your language supports operators overloading, understand it.
  • If your language supports delegates/function pointers, understand it.

17. Take an introductory course in at least one more programming language in another programming paradigm.

It is recommended to learn one programming language of each paradigm, and most advanced programmers do.

However, you usually start with one, work for a while applying your knowledge and practicing it.

Then learn the other later on, after you already had a real-life experience in programming.

Try one of the following language areas:

  • Logic programming paradigm.
  • Functional programming paradigm.
  • Object-oriented paradigm.

18. Try to compare the two programming languages you learned so far.

Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each one. Usually this is done by:

  • Taking simple samples of your early work in the first programming language and re-write it using the second programming language.
  • Creating a new project and try implementing it using both languages. Sometimes, depending on your choice of project and languages, you might not be able to implement the project in one of the languages!
  • Writing a cheat-sheet or summary-table comparisons between similar constructs in the two languages and features unique to each of the languages.
  • Try finding ways to mimic features that is unique to one of the two languages using the other language.

19. Learn visual programming concepts using one of the languages you learned.

Almost all programming languages have versions/libraries that support visual programming.

And others supporting console or console-like programming.

This can be accomplished by:

  • Get an introduction to event-driven programming.
  • Most visual programming relies in some level on events and events handling (using the programming language you choose).
  • Try as much desktop software as you can and understand what the software does. Most software development companies offer beta-testing versions of their products which you can use to test the software. Keep up-to-date on user interface advancements.
  • Read some articles or tutorials on graphical user interfaces.

20. Start applying your knowledge on small software projects you design.

Try applying your programming expertise on problems you face in your day-to-day life.

For example, write programs that rename files in mass, compares text files visually, copies the names of files in a directory to memory/text file, and things like that. Keep it simple at first.

21.Successful Programmer:  Create a virtual graduation project.

Complete this to the end, applying the techniques of visual programming you learned so far.

22. Successful Programmer: Become a games programmer (optional).

Game programming is considered, in most of its parts, desktop programming.

If you intend to become a games programmer.

You will need to learn more about game programming after you finish these steps.

A graphics course is a must for game programmers.

And the second language of choice in the preceding steps should be a logic/functional programming language (preferably Prolog or Lisp).

23. Tackle distributed applications programming.

Distributed application programming is considered by many to be one of the hardest to learn and requires diverse knowledge in computer and communication technologies.

24.Make a transfer to a desktop scripting/programming language.

Preferably, one that is a multi-paradigm language such as Python.

Take a simple introduction to that second language.

Java is considered by most programmers to be the language of choice for many reasons.

However, C# is gaining momentum fast in this field. Java and C# are preferred for the following reasons:

  • They are object oriented programming languages which shields programmers in large teams from implementation details as they both supports components (units of code, pre-compiled, that perform a certain task and can be used in other programs).
  • They support event-driven programming, as well as OO and procedural programming at some level.
  • The framework that the language is built upon is distributed by nature (in the case of Java).
  • The availability of many ready-made packages that deal with networking, both as open-source code and framework built-in packages; this makes it easier for programmers to build upon the work of others.

25. one or more of the following technologies.

It is recommended that you get at least an introduction to all of them.

Most distributed application programmers do not stop at one or two programming languages, but learn at least one programming language on each operating system.

That is because if you want your application to be “distributed”, you should provide a version of it at least for each major operating system.

  • Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA)
  • Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)
  • Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX)
  • Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM)
  • .NET Remoting
  • XML Web Services

26. Successful Programmer: Try to mimic simple, already established libraries, especially open-source ones.

This is useful during the early phase of becoming a library/package programmer.

Start with simple packages like units conversion and intermediate scientific calculations packages.

If you are a college student, make use of your non-programming courses.

By trying to implement their equations and scientific core as libraries.

27.Successful Programmer: Search for and try open-source packages in your field of programming.

First download binaries/executables of the package.

Try to use it and find its strong and weak points.

After you’ve done that, download the source and try to figure out how it was done.

Try to recreate those libraries or parts of them.

At first, do that after you’ve seen the code and later before you see the code. At later phases, try improving those libraries.

28. Learn the different approaches used to distribute and deploy components to programmers.

  • Usually, library/package programmers tend to think recursively and/or iteratively of all problems they are presented with. Try to think of each problem as a collection of smaller problems (a sequence of simpler tasks) or as a repeated process of reducing the problem’s scope to smaller scopes and then piling those scopes upon each other.
  • Library/package programmers tend to generalize.
  • That is, when presented with a simple specific problem, they usually think of a more general problem and try to solve that general problem which will automatically solve the smaller one.

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