A Brief Introduction to Computer Programming
In today’s digitized world, programming, computer programmers, algorithm, back end, syntax, and terminal are some words which have entered mainstream language.
But how many of us actually understand what they are all about? These are all terms related to programming. And what does programming mean? In simple language, programming is a list of instructions called a program which we create for the computer.
The computer follows these instructions to start, control and complete a specific task. These instructions are written in the programming languages such as Java, Python, C++.
These are languages are used to communicate with the computer. To be a computer programmer you have to learn such languages, their unique terms and functions.
Are you a high school student looking at possible future careers? Or a professional who is looking to change industries? Or have computers always fascinated you?
This article will help you understand what lies in store in a programming career.
Computer Programming History
Would you believe that the word “computer” was originally meant for a human being? People who did complex calculations were referred to as computers.
The simplest programmed devices have existed as far back as the 1200s; when they were manipulate drums to play certain rhythms. In the 1800s, British mathematician Ada Lovelace wrote the first computer program.
But programming really got a boost during World War II, when war time required faster and faster development of new technologies.
By the 1960s, these terminals became much cheaper, so that more people could experiment with them. Programming, which required writing code, reached new heights in the 1990s.
Today, computer programmers can write code to launch spaceships, perform intelligence operations, from complex human surgery and to protection from hacking, applications are innumerable.
How to know if this will interest you?
Before you get all excited, take a moment to consider if programming is for you. It might sound like a great career option but what works for others may not work for you. Here are some things you should consider:
If you have never always enjoyed logical puzzles and analytical thinking, programming might not be for you. Programming places A LOT of emphasis on problem solving and there is much less creating new programs and more tweaking existing ones for better performance.
You must enjoy the work. Coding involves oodles of repetition, so if you are someone needs creativity and spontaneity on the job; programming might not be for you.
You are not creative. Programming involves taking risks and constantly thinking of new ways to improve. You must be comfortable with experimentation when it comes to it.
If you prefer an active job, programming might not be for you. You have to be able to sit and stare at a computer screen for long periods of time. If you are an inherently restless person, you will find this difficult to do.
If you prefer working in teams and are not comfortable with solitude, programming might not be for you.
Computer Programmer Job Description
Now, you must be thinking “why should you consider computer programming at all”? It is a popular option both at present, and its future is bright.
The world is well on its way to digitization in every imaginable sphere. A successful and enterprising programmer can ride this wave to fortune.
Some of the common tasks a computer programmer does are:
Review existing programs regularly and tweak to ensure proper functioning of the same.
Test the program operation and modify according to requirements.
Create, test and implement software programs which are operable on varied devices and platforms.
Create new functions to be executed by existing programs.
Be able to write code in a wide variety of machine languages like Python, Java, C and Perl.
A competent computer programmer is required to have the following soft skills:
Identifying and solving problems.
Be detail oriented to find tiny errors in code.
Be able to understand and interpret written instructions.
Good listening skills to understand client requirements.
Types of Jobs
Some of the most interesting jobs in this field are:
Computer programmer – this involves creating programs and tweaking them until they perform exactly as expected.
Computer systems analyst – organizations employ such professionals to find vulnerabilities in their computer systems to prevent unauthorized use of organization assets and to safeguard from hacking etc.
Software quality assurance engineer – this involves testing already created apps and programs and providing suggestions for improvement.
Web developer – Most of the websites on the internet have been created by web developers. It involves listening attentively to you clients and creating a website according to their specifications. This is one of the most sought after jobs in this field as it involves a high degree of creativity.
A Bachelor’s degree is usually required in one or more of the following:
- Computer science
- Information systems
This must be supported by valid internships. Specific jobs might even require Masters Degree.
However, some employers accept candidates with Bachelor’s degrees in accounting, finance and business provided it is supported by graduate level courses in computer programming.
This is a fast changing industry, so work experience quickly becomes outdated. The candidate must continuously upgrade their skills.
Computer Programmers’ Salary
Salaries in this field tend to vary with the country you live in. Developed countries are mostly outsourcing such jobs to emerging economies to control costs. As such, only very experienced professionals in developed countries can expect a salary higher than median.
On the other end of the scale, there is so much competition in emerging economies that starting salaries tend to be lower. You will earn higher depending on how much work experience you have, and the quality of projects you have participated in.
Online Courses to Get Started
In order to know if this is a viable profession for you, start off by coding on your own. Python is the simplest coding language out there, and it has widespread usage as well. The internet also offers a host of free resources to get you started. Some of them are listed below:
- Codeacademy (https://www.codecademy.com/)
- Coursera (coursera.org)
- EdX (www.edX.org)
- Khan Academy (https://www.khanacademy.org/)
- MIT Opencourseware (https://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm)
- Udacity (https://in.udacity.com/)
- Udemy (udemy.com)
- W3schools (https://www.w3schools.com/)
- Microsoft Virtual Academy (https://mva.microsoft.com/)
Over to You
Computer programming shall generate a variety of jobs in the future. Some upcoming fields are machine learning, artificial intelligence and automation.
However attractive this profession might sound, you must first explore it and conclude whether you actually enjoy it.
You must try to imagine if you will still enjoy coding in ten years time. This is not one profession where you should follow the herd.