By now, you’ve probably heard about all the exciting rewards that come with learning to code. Programming is a modern skill that fits into any career, enriches your existing skill set, and opens up new career opportunities with remote work, high pay, and incredible mobility. What’s more, the industry is booming thanks to thousands of businesses turning to digital and online services during lockdown, creating a spike in demand for good coders. You might want to become a programmer – but how do you know if you would be good at programming?
There’s no exhaustive, set-in-stone list of requirements to become a programmer (we believe very strongly that anyone can learn to code, no matter their age or background), but there are a few habits, skills, and attitudes that we think would make learning programming and overcoming its challenges much, much easier.
Here are five qualities that show you would be a natural at coding.
- An experimental instinct
A curiosity for understanding a problem and trying to fix it through trial and error is a must-have for programmers. We might live in the age of StackOverflow, quick Google searches, and other resources you can consult at a click – however, the ability to look at obstacles, figure out what causes them, and create innovative solutions on your own is invaluable. After all, what happens if you encounter a problem no one has ever solved before, or if you’re working on a project and can’t reveal anything about it?
This experimental attitude also means you’d be more likely to discover new technology stacks, programming languages, and techniques that make your job easier, and your code more efficient. If you can show you’re proficient in several different programming languages, you’ll be able to take high-paying senior-level roles that pay over six figures.
- A quick grasp of structure and logic
At its core, programming is fundamentally logic-based. Every language has a particular set of rules for syntax, style, and structure – and even the smallest error may result in code simply not running at all. As any experienced programmer can tell you, often the difference between a programming failing and it actually working can come down to a single missing semicolon or mispelled variable name.
The ability to grasp structure and logic quickly might not be mandatory for beginner coders (practice is often far more powerful than talent) but it certainly does make using a language to solve difficult problems that much easier – and it makes learning new tech stacks and languages a breeze. The more you know about programming, the more you can earn.
Being oversensitive or overprotective of your work can pose significant problems for the quality, security, and reliability of the code you write. Good coders don’t hang onto their code at all costs: they keep what’s useful and throw away code that no longer serves its function, even if it took weeks to write. Good coders know that there are always more efficient, better ways to do things, and so they are happy to throw out their own work and adopt another programmer’s code if it does the job better. Better code isn’t a slight against you; it’s an opportunity to learn and improve.
- The right mindset and attitude
Just like a salesperson needs charisma, relatability, and people skills, so too do programmers need their own set of characteristics and values. Some of these ‘good coder’ values are:
Patience – a problem isn’t solved immediately. Often it will take lots of trial, error, and time. A good coder has to be able to keep their cool, and understand that rushed code is usually bad code.
Focus – coding is often an iterative process that goes through definite phases, such as planning, writing pseudo code, and creating programs in steps. Being able to concentrate on individual tasks one at a time is an invaluable skill for a good coder.
An eye for details – code can be finicky, and often requires you to pay attention so that you write code right. This value goes beyond just knowing the structure and rules of a programming language, however: it also involves finding ways to make it better and more efficient.
Tenacity – programs almost always fail before you can get them working – and even when code does run, bugs and errors are quite common. The trick is to not give up. Many people fear failure; excellent programmers are excited by it.
- An appetite for learning
New programming languages, technology stacks, and techniques are always emerging in the fast-evolving tech industry. A good programmer needs to remain aware of the latest coding practices and tools to ensure their code is lean, efficient, and up-to-date. People who take their self-education and upskilling seriously and usually thrive at coding. As a developer, you want to be continually upskilling via self-learning or online bootcamps.
If you want to start learning how to code and begin your journey towards your high-paying tech career, our bootcamps are the ideal place.
We believe that anyone can code, even if you’ve never tried coding before. Our bootcamps are designed for you to succeed, with full 1-on-1 personal mentorship, expert code review, and full career development support as you progress to getting job-ready in just 6 months – or less.
Want to start learning the very basics, totally free of charge? Click here to check out our free trial, where you can learn the essentials in data science, full stack web development, or software engineering.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published on 26 April 2018 and has been updated on 19 August 2020.