Computer programming is fast becoming the most desirable new skill to have. Everything around us is going digital and that requires coders to build, test and maintain this software. If you’ve been considering getting into coding as a career, here are the steps you need to take.
Learn to code
If you already know how to code – well done, you’ve got the hardest part out of the way. Coding takes time to learn, although thankfully there are a multitude of learning services to choose from. Sites such as Codeacademy offer online courses on how to code from scratch, which you can take and complete at your own leisure. There are meanwhile a number of college and university courses, workshops and private tutorial options for those that prefer an in-person approach. Good languages to start with are Python, Ruby or Java. From here you can diversify out and learn other languages (all languages are based on similar mechanics – once you’ve learn one, others become easy to pick up).
Build a portfolio
Once you’ve nailed coding, it’s time to start your own projects and show off what you can do. Start small and work up to more complex programmes. Build up a digital portfolio that demonstrates these. You don’t need to be a coding expert to start looking for a job – this can take up to twenty years – so don’t worry if you can only create basic programmes using code. This puts you ahead of most people with little or no coding know-how – the rest you’ll learn on the job.
Get to grips with software and tools
Creating a computer programme is an organised and structured process. Most companies will use various software to record each step of the way and keep all the team in the loop. Get to grips with these types of software so that they’re not alien when you get in a job and have to use them for the first time. Also get to grips with logging processes and educate yourself on logging best practices. You should also try out a few testing programmes.
Give testing a test
Software companies are always looking for keen coders to test their product for bugs. This can be good experience to put on your CV. Look for software testing advertisements online in your area.
As with any job, it’s often not what you know, but who you know. Conventions and hack-a-thons are great places to go and meet fellow coders in person and possibly to get your foot in the door if you meet the right people. Join up forums and social media community groups dedicated to coders. Join Linked In and add people as connections who work in the coding field. You can also consider taking contract jobs on Elance and Craigslist – you may even have the confidence to go self-employed and start up your own development/testing company.