In the past decade, the demand for technology has skyrocketed. With that demand comes a natural need for IT personnel, including programmers.

However, the path to becoming a programmer involves learning a new language–literally. It requires foresight, dedication, and education.

The outcome? A 2017 median pay of $39.54 per hour and increasing job growth.

This story leads to a happy conclusion. If you’re ready to find your own happily ever after in the programming career department, we’ll spill the beans and explain exactly how to become a programmer in Florida.

The Job Description

Before you think about hopping online and signing up for classes, it’s important to understand what a programmer’s life entails.

Programmers are tinkerers invested in the makings of software programs; they turn ideas into reality. There are two basic types of programmers: applications and systems programmers.

Applications programmers create and customize software programs for businesses. In short, they are in charge of building the software and maintaining it.

Systems programmers are responsible for maintaining the operating system. This position requires extensive knowledge of the entire system. Systems programmers focus on how programs interact with and function with computers, ensuring everything runs at optimal performance.

In 2017, a programmer’s median salary was $82,240.

Do You Have What It Takes?

Being a programmer and enjoying the career takes a specific type of person.

Programmers are usually detail-oriented and math-lovers. They enjoy learning about how things work and finding solutions to problems.

Because one tiny mistake can ruin an entire code, it’s integral that these individuals are meticulous, patient and thorough. Finally, coders need to be “obsessive learners”–that is, they are continually building upon their knowledge base to make the most of their skills.

Do you fit the bill?

How to Become a Programmer

No matter where you are, becoming a programmer involves several years of education and an avid interest in computers.

1. Start Early

One of the best pieces of advice is to start as early as possible. For those interested in computers in high school or before, several programs exist that teach kids to code in a user-friendly and simplified manner.

It’s a great way to see if programming is right for you.

Even if you’re out of high school and ready to go into college, it’s advised that you explore programming before attending courses. Go to your local library and take out a few books on programming fundamentals and Javascript or basic introductory texts on coding.

These small steps allow you to dip your toe in the water, ensuring that this is something you are interested in.

2. Get Educated

At this point, you should have a fairly good idea that you’re interested in programming. Now it’s time to really learn.

Most positions require a bachelor’s degree in some form of computer science but start small. Work on a two-year degree to learn the fundamentals of coding.

During this time, students learn about computer systems, infrastructures, JAVA programming, and basic C++ programming. In short, it provides all the groundwork so you know your way around systems and coding.

3. Find Your Focus

Before beginning your bachelor’s degree, you must decide what focus you want to pursue.

There are a variety of computer science specializations to choose from:

  • Information technology
  • Computer engineering
  • Security
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Networking

If possible, try to dabble in a few courses beyond the required basics to see if they capture your interest.

Once you finish your two-year degree, the next step is to obtain your bachelor’s in your focus. Generally, the coursework is more rigorous and many schools require a final project demonstrating your knowledge.

Florida has a plethora of universities that offer online or in-person classes, such as the University of Florida, the University of Miami and the Florida Institute of Technology.

4. Apply for Positions

Start applying for positions shortly before you are out of school. Florida is ripe with juicy offerings, but don’t restrict yourself: as a programmer, you can usually work from any location.

Prepare your application information and make it clear you’ll graduate soon if you haven’t already.

Also, consider carefully if there is a particular sector you’re interested in joining. The knowledge you gain can transfer to a variety of fields. Healthcare is particularly hot on the market right now.

5. Decide About Graduate School

A master’s degree isn’t required for most positions, but it gives applicants a leg up over the competition.

This type of degree is, as the University of Dartmouth puts it, “a technical degree that gives you more interesting job opportunities.” A Ph.D. is best for academia and research-imbued positions.

Reflect on your interests and goals to decide if a graduate program is right for you.

6. Obtain Certifications

At this point, you have a job and you may or may not attend graduate school, but your task isn’t complete yet.

If nothing else, there is one thing all individuals in this field agree on: it is ever-changing. That’s why it’s important individuals seeking this career are avid learners; after all, you never stop learning.

It’s one of the most fun characteristics of the position because it never becomes dull.

Technology advances and your knowledge must advance along with it. Don’t let this overwhelm you. Most coders start off learning one basic language and then slowly add to their knowledge after they obtain jobs.

Therefore, even after you’ve landed your dream career, you still have a learning curve ahead of you. This is where certifications come in handy.

Certifications are a quick way to stay up-to-date on all coding news and keep your resume impressive. Some, like this organization teaching Python for data science, even offer free lessons.

Dream Job? Check.

Floridian citizens are especially at an advantage when it comes to becoming a coder because jobs are ample and colleges are everywhere.

But even knowing how to become a programmer and successfully obtaining a degree means little if you don’t have the interviewing skills to land a job.

Learn all about how to impress your future boss in our article and don’t be afraid to flaunt your programs.

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