I have been receiving a number of questions from my readers about how much time it takes to become a computer programmer.
Looking back in time, I realize, I had this same conversation with a coach figure 12+ years ago when I was considering a career in computer programming. His advice was that it would take me at least 2 years of concentrated work to learn any new career. My coach figure at that time was a successful lawyer with more than 30 years of experience practicing law, so I took his advice to heart.
A few years later, I became a computer programmer. To my surprise, the actual learning and the period of time it took me to become a computer programmer was only 3 months.
When I say 3 months to transition to a career in contract computer programming, you have to realize that I was working a full time job while working transitioning to a career in computer programming.
I realize that my story is not the norm for everyone transitioning to a career in computer programming. Also, the fact that it took me 3 months to learn computer programming does not make me more or less smart than someone else who spends 6 months or 2 years doing the same.
Now, I will mention only 3 factors out of the several that helped me transition to a career in software development consulting in only 3 months.
- Short Learning Curve: Some programming languages take more time to master than others. For example, Visual Basic is remarkably easier for new comers to learn than say C++ or Java. When I was starting my career in contract programming, I realized at the time that all programming languages are not equal, and jumpstarted my new career by choosing a rapid application development language.
- Effective Study Habits: How much you get out of your study time depends on the effectiveness of your study habits. In college I noticed that while some students need 1 hour of study time to learn a new concept, others need 3 hours of study time to learn the same concept. So to shorten the time it takes you to learn computer programming you need to sharpen your study skills.
- Passion for Success: Before I actually learnt how to program computers, I was passionate about the subject of computer programming for many years. I have no doubt that this passion for computing helped me master the career in a shorter time. Being passionate meant that I hung out with programmers, tried to read their magazines and listened to their advice.
It all comes down to your career action plan. There is more to computer programming than simply learning a computer programming language.
For example, some programming languages are Rapid Application Development (RAD) tools. RAD tools are designed to help software developers create business applications in less time.
Some computer programming software comes with tools that make it easier for developers to find and correct mistakes in their software applications.
Some computer programming languages are in high demand while others are not. You may not want to learn a programming language for which you contact 10 hiring managers to get one technical interview if you could have had 10 interviews by learning a different computer programming language.
Finally, some programming languages are best suited for particular industries. You need to master one type of programming language to become a game programmer, another type to become a business software developer and yet another type of programming language to be a systems programmer.
The industry you work in may have a programming language best suited for it and it is your job to determine that.
Consider this advice from a good friend: Always Begin with the End in Mind.