How To Become a Better Programmer (With Skills To Develop)

Updated January 26, 2023

Programmers use their educational background in writing code to create applications and software programs. Technology is a crucial part of many industries, so having programming skills and training may provide you with new career opportunities. Because the programming field is continually changing, it's important to develop your programming skills routinely.

In this article, we discuss the primary tasks of a programmer, explain how to become a better programmer, provide some additional tips to help you and explore some essential skills for these professionals.

What is a programmer?

A programmer is a person who writes code to create applications or software programs. Programmers may have the following duties:

  • Writing code for computer programs

  • Troubleshooting broken code

  • Creating systems to prevent security threats

  • Testing new programs for efficiency

  • Developing mobile applications

  • Checking that written code meets performance and reliability standards

  • Meeting with clients to understand their website needs

  • Implementing updated coding to redesign applications

Related: Q&A: Is Computer Programming for Me?

Benefits of improving programming skills

There are many benefits of improving your programming skills, including:

  • Promotion opportunities: Developing new skills or improving existing ones may make you eligible for promotions within your current company.

  • More job opportunities: Having strong programming skills or knowledge can make you eligible for more career positions in a variety of fields.

  • Better coding efficiency: Improving your programming skills can also make you more efficient when coding, which can help you write code faster and with fewer errors.

Related: Computer Programmer Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a better programmer

You may further develop your programming skills using the following steps:

1. Identify your programming strengths and weaknesses

Identifying your programming strengths and weaknesses can help you find the specific areas you're skilled in and the areas in which you can improve. One method of doing this is pretending you have to teach these skills in a classroom. By considering the subjects you're more and less comfortable teaching, you can identify exactly which techniques and skills to further develop as a programmer.

Related: How To Leverage Your Strengths in the Workplace

2. Take a programming course

Programming courses are a great way to develop your programming skills. Programming courses typically focus on one programming language and teach you how to create the programs that you may build within your job. You can often find programming courses at local community colleges, universities or online. Some programming courses last several weeks, while others can last up to a few months. After completing a programming course, you should have a thorough understanding of that programming language and some projects you can include in a portfolio.

Related: 8 Coding Bootcamp Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

3. Gain a programming certification

Programming certifications demonstrate to potential employers that you have proficiency with a certain programming language. While requirements vary depending on the certification provider, most include taking an exam or creating a specific type of program. To prepare you for the exam, the certification provider may give you study materials, which you can use to learn more about the programming language.

Related: 15 Programming Certifications for IT Professionals

4. Join a programming group

Programming groups are teams of other programmers who work together to develop projects. They may work on different aspects of the same project or assist each other with individual projects. Through a programming group, you can gain knowledge from fellow programmers and assist others with your knowledge. To find programming groups in your area, try looking for signs at your local library or college, or search for social media groups. You can also likely find programming groups online, where team members communicate over the internet rather than in person.

5. Develop your projects

Sometimes, the best way to learn more about programming is simply by creating your projects. Think of something you want to do with code, then start developing. When you reach a point where you don’t know how to do something, start researching online or reading programming books. You can also try different methods within your code to see which works best. Trial and error can teach you a lot about programming, and this practical approach often helps you remember the lessons for future projects.

Related: How To Create a Successful Side Project

6. Find someone to help you

Many people can help you learn to program. For example, if you’re currently working as a programmer among a team of developers, try asking your coworkers for assistance. Many people are happy to help others learn and pass along their knowledge. Other people you may be able to ask for help include friends, classmates or online experts through programming forums.

Related: Navigating Computer Programmer Degrees and Careers

7. Create a practice schedule

Practice is a good way to improve your programming skills. Using your list of skills and techniques you want to develop, create a practice schedule. Determine when and for how long you'll work on your programming skills to help you structure your practice sessions. When practicing your programming skills, consider working on different skills each week to help you develop several areas of expertise. You might practice things like:

  • Designing patterns

  • Learning different coding languages

  • Coding for different industries

Related: The Guide To Passing a Programmer Interview

Tips to become a better programmer

You can use the following tips to help you become a better programmer:

  • Write each line of code multiple times. Repetition can reduce coding errors and help you learn to recognize similarities among codes. Some programmers also use the rule of three when coding, which means they write each code sequence three times to decide when to delete code that's too similar.

  • Practice code in different environments. If you're familiar with writing code for a certain industry, try coding in a different industry. You might also practice code beyond school or work assignments and work on projects you're less familiar with to help improve your skills.

  • Practice unit testing. Consider practicing unit testing, which is the process of checking a small piece of code and identifying how it affects other areas of code. This method can also help with identifying coding errors before finishing a project.

  • Improve soft programming skills. Improving your soft skills can help you develop your programming style and work with other programmers. A few important soft programming skills include teamwork, communication and project management.

  • Sign up for newsletters. Staying informed on the latest trends and updates in the industry is an important part of becoming a better programmer. Newsletters are one way you can learn about relevant industry changes.

  • Read code. Becoming a better programmer involves both practicing code and reading code to learn how to better identify broken code. Inspect the source code of your favorite websites or review previous code you've written.

  • Rewrite your code when you learn something new. As soon as you complete a programming class or expand your coding skills to include a new language, consider rewriting previous code. This may help you identify techniques you can improve.

  • Contribute to the open-source community. Contributing to an open-source community, or collection of programming contributors, can allow you to assist other programmers and develop your programming skills. It also allows other programmers to view your code and offer you specific feedback.

Related: Steps for Skill Improvement

Skills for becoming a better programmer

The following skills are an important part of becoming an effective programmer:

  • Communication: Strong written and verbal skills are important for programmers because coding involves translating written communication to a server.

  • Project management: Programming work usually involves multiple projects. The ability to set due dates and maintain productivity is important for programmers to complete projects efficiently.

  • Problem-solving skills: Programmers often have to solve problems, such as coding errors. The ability to identify problems and solutions is important for troubleshooting code.

  • Technical acumen: Technical skills are also important when working as a programmer. For example, programmers need the ability to use different computer programs and systems.

Related: Top Computer Coding Skills for Your Resume

Which industries hire programmers?

Programmers are desirable to hiring managers in many industries. Here are a few industries you may consider joining:

  • Computer security

  • Health care

  • Financial services

  • Enterprise software

  • Retail

  • Software development

  • Business

  • Marketing

  • Manufacturing

  • Technology


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