How To Become A Highly Skilled Computer Programmer

Because highly skilled software developers (master programmers) are highly paid (read previous post on software developers), the question is how do you become a master contract programmer if you aren’t?

Here is what I consider to be a common sense guide to becoming a master software developer:

  1. Certify now! Use certifications and test preparation material like transcender to sharpen your overall grasp of your technology
  2. Read books. Read a lot of technical books on your skill set (for example .NET development). You should own a number of these books yourself
  3. Find online mentors. Read and follow-up the online discussions or blogs made by people much more skilled and experienced than you. For example, if you are a C# .NET developer, find the folks who seem to be the most active in speaking and writing on C# .NET development. Choose one or two people whose books you like reading. Read every book and article they publish.
  4. Make sure your skills are well rounded as much as possible (database development, business logic development, user interface development).
  5. Do not dumb yourself down! The corollary to rule #4 is: avoid work that makes you more incompetent. If you know that you hate JavaScript development or your UI design skills suck, do not spend your whole life time working on it, find your strengths and sharpen them
  6. Read articles. Read a lot of technical online articles (am I repeating rule #2?). Well written articles can tell you in 1 hour what it will take you 1 day to learn from a book
  7. Become a Google expert. A good deal of the questions you need to answer or problems you need to solve have been answered, solved and posted online. Become confident in using Google to either solve a problem or narrow down your effort to a few specific areas
  8. Ask for help. Learn how to ask for help on the job no matter how good your technical skills are. It is better to ask for help and save 20 hours than to invest 20 hours of your company’s time trying to prove how smart you are
  9. Know when to quit. Not every problem requires a technical solution now! A few problems need to be left alone for a few days, a few need a workaround and the majority need to be solved.
  10. Deliver results. Learn to deliver results often, early and consistently. Businesses love results. If it takes you 1 month before you deliver 1 result which your boss appreciates, either find a new engagement or fire yourself.

There are more street smart rules for becoming highly skilled and competent at work. If you keep your eyes open for what makes you better and what doesn’t, you will see more of them.

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