If you’re looking for a valuable skill or a new career, you absolutely can’t go wrong with computer programming. In the digital age, you simply can’t go wrong with knowing how to program. It can be a fun way to pass the time or your gateway into a brand new career. Let’s take a look now at a few ways to learn programming for yourself.
Go Back to School
The obvious way to learn computer programming is to simply go back to school for it. In a college classroom, you’ll learn from an experienced professor and be assured you understand everything involved in the discipline.
Before you begin any courses, though, you may want to flirt with the idea of taking logic or a course in discrete mathematics. Both apply themselves well to the language of computer programming.
If you’re worried about the time or financial commitment, consider local community or technical schools that may be offering courses. Both will most likely have options that work around your schedule and do so at an affordable rate.
Consider Online Courses
These days you can learn just about anything online. Sometimes you can even learn a lot of it for free (like the tutorials on this site). Going back to school can even mean simply taking courses over the internet with a school that offers classes in computer programming.
However, there are even more innovative options these days for you to choose from. Look into organizations like Khan Academy, Code Academy, Code.org or Udemy. All of these companies have been recognized for teaching computer programming online through innovative methods that really work. A number of them even have free resources to get you started.
One thing to keep in mind with these options is that they’re not actually accredited programs, so you may have a hard time referencing them on a resume if you’re hoping to get a job as a computer programmer. The nice thing is that many employers only care what you can do. So if you can prove you have the chops by showing them a program you wrote, it probably won’t matter. However, some employers will not be so open-minded. So just keep this in mind.
It is also important that you find a programming language that you want to learn, and specify in. You want to make computer programs? Go with something like C++. You want to create websites? Learn HTML, PHP and CSS.
Now let’s take a look at the practical methodology behind computer programming. That is, these are the steps you’ll have to follow if you hope to master it, no matter which way you decide to learn it.
The first thing you’ll need to do is simply practice your craft. The moment you start learning programming, start applying it regularly. As you continue to learn more, you’ll be able to program more. Work on open source projects or design your own software. Even when your efforts seem like they’re creating something completely useless that no one would want to use, give it a shot anyway. You’ll learn by doing.
Understand Math and Logic
Earlier, when I recommended taking math and logic, it was about more than simply nailing some college course prerequisites. Math and logic are an intrinsic part of computer programming. Despite what you may think, you don’t actually need to be a genius to become a programmer. It certainly helps, of course. But having a strong grasp of Boolean algebra, basic algorithms and the structures of data will all go a long way. There’s a grammar to math and something called automata you’ll want to look up too.
Engineering and Architecture
Here’s an area many computer programmers steer clear of. It doesn’t seem completely necessary, so they don’t bother with it. This gives you a clear opportunity though. Program an Arduino, or anything along those lines, into assembly. Read up on basic gates. If you get really courageous, try wiring something on your own. Don’t just learn how to program, understand what the cause and effect will be. See how your software will actually make switches alter the way electrons travel.
Learn About People
That’s right, becoming a computer programmer doesn’t just mean long days behind a screen far away from those people you want to avoid. If you want to learn how to program successfully, you need to understand people. This goes way beyond UX and UI and any other buzzwords that dress it up. This is why programmers need to make the humanities a part of their ongoing education.
Stay in the Market
Don’t ever disconnect from the industry either. This will be tempting a lot of times because the market is so incredibly flooded with useless buzzwords that will all but chase you away. Stay connected, however. Just like learning the humanities, staying up to date with what the market is talking about is how you’ll write better programs.
This may seem like a lot of work, but programming is like any language. You’ll need to start slow at first until you can walk on your own and then run. Eventually, you’ll master it, but that will still mean picking up new words from time to time.