4 Steps to Start your Career in Coding

If you ever thought about getting into coding as a career, then there is no better time than right now.

OK, so your parents always told you that the best route to success was to become a professional – doctor, lawyer, dentist, accountant. Yes indeed, these are all very worthwhile and you can indeed carve out a very successful life through these professions.

However, if you are just at the start of your career, perhaps completing school or college, wondering what direction you might take, consider this.  Coding is currently considered one of the finest professions you can choose.

In this article, I lay out 5 steps how you might want to choose coding as a career (I will leave the why you might choose coding as a career to another time).

1.  Coding Discipline

There are a number of directions that you can take within the coding space.  So the first decision that you need to make is to choose a coding discipline.  What I mean by this is decide which areas within the coding spectrum you would like to pursue.  Some people veer towards front-end design (ie the look and feel of the application) while others are more attracted to pure back-end coding.  In fact, modern practice is for programmers to work in small teams with both front-end and back-end coders working together.  The primary choices for you as a budding developer to take, therefore, can be summarised as follows:

  • Web technologies (and therefore venture down the HTML, CSS, JavaScript route) – usually focused on front-end / UX
  • Server side (or back-end) technologies (includes PHP, Node.js and .NET)
  • Mobile App development (Android, iOS, Windows Mobile)

2.  Coding Language

Now that you have decided what area of coding you feel most comfortable with (front-end, back-end, etc), your next step is to choose your coding language.  Of course, this will also be dictated (somewhat) by your discipline of choice.  For example, if you feel that you are more suited to front-end development, then the primary languages for you will most likely be HTML, CSS and JavaScript.  Of course, you may decide to extend your areas of expertise, therefore requiring you to learn other tools such as Ruby on Rails, Java, etc.

3.  Research and Learn

Make sure to learn as much as you can about your chosen craft.  There are numerous online resources that you can investigate.  These include blogs, articles, various video sites and the like.  In fact, there are a number of excellent free online learning sites, including

  • Code School – CodeSchool is a browser-based online learning tools that teaches various web technologies with video lessons, coding challenges and screencasts. Tools and languages include HTML, Ruby and iOS which involve GIT, Sass and Backbone.js.
  • Codecademy is an interactive learning site where you can learn to code interactively, for free.  Languages include HTML, Python, CSS, Ruby on Rails, etc
  • Coursera
  • MIT OpenCourseWare
  • Udacity
  • Udemy

4.  Find a Tutor / Mentor / Advisor

Coding can be a lonely profession!  You may end up spending time on your own.  Having an industry-based coach or mentor can be a super ally.  Your coach can assist you in providing you with access to a network of other professionals, some of who might be able to put work your way.  They can also help to guide and steer you through your coding experiences, providing you with case studies and best practice methodologies.

I was chatting with a newbie coder the other day – he is a 48 year old man who has just completed a 4 year coding course.  Prior to taking this course he was a qualified electrician.  The economic downturn put and end to that career.  Now he is a fully qualified as a coder and back working once again. Get to it!

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