It is a commonly held belief that once you learn “how to code in one programming language“, you can easily transition your programming skills to another.
Yet many computer programmers never quite make it because they get lost in the transition from one programming language to another.
When a computer programmer falls behind the technology (programming language) curve, the developer may experience:
- Loss of job security
- Difficulty in finding new employment
- Loss of income
This article focuses on how to keep your programming skills current, relevant or indispensable in a constantly evolving marketplace.
Always Be Learning: Computer Programming Languages
There are several reasons why computer programmers seem to forever be learning new languages. Some of these reasons are:
New Programming Languages:Computer programming languages become obsolete and new ones are introduced to replace them (Fortran has pretty much been replaced by more modern, Object Oriented Programming (OOP) languages).
Updated Programming Language Versions:Programming languages are constantly being updated to newer versions by their vendors (for example, classic Visual Basic has been replaced by Visual Basic .NET).
New Software Application Markets: New software applications markets create a demand for specialized programming skills (IPhone application development needs fueling a demand for Objective C and Cocoa programming languages).
So to be successful, computer programmers have to accept that learning new programming languages comes with the territory or they will fall behind the technology curve.
So, given that the demand for programming skills is constantly evolving from a technology / market standpoint, here is how to make the jump from one programming language to another:
Believe In Yourself: Be Confident In Your Ability To Learn
Believe that if you know how to code in one programming language, you can pick up another one.
Learning a new language may require some time, effort or dedication but you can do it again because you have done it successfully before.
The fear of learning new programming languages seems to be higher with legacy application developers, e.g. cobol or mainframe programmers.
This may be because legacy (cobol, mainframe etc.) programmers have not faced the challenge of updating their skills in a long a while and because of that see learning new, modern object oriented languages like .NET Framework as being more difficult job than they really are!
Career Path for Programmers: Keep Your Skills Marketable
Since the demand for programming skills changes all the time (for example, the shift from desktop to web applications), you have to update your skills or you risk ending up with unmarketable skills or losing your job.
Right now the marketable programming skills include Microsoft .NET Framework (ASP.NET, SQL SERVER and C#), PHP/MYSQL and Cocoa / Objective C (Iphone application development).
So, in terms of a Career Roadmap for computer programmers, you need to have one of these marketable skills.
Learn By Doing: Build Practical Software Applications
Programming skills are not learnt by getting certifications or more educational qualifications. They are gained by building applications outside the classroom.
So, build small applications in the programming languages you are learning … even if you have to build it for yourself!
Don’t get over yourself and end up tackling a project that is so complex that your skills are quickly overwhelmed because that may cause you to lose confidence in your budding programming skills.
Build New Programming Skills Repetitively
Programming skills have to be exercised repeatedly before they are transferred from the conscious areas of your brain to your optimized, sub-conscious mind.
Learn Programming In Steps
One of the major challenges facing programmers learning new programming languages is that they often bite of more than they can chew. When this happens, developers will more often than not, pin their wheels or quit the project altogether.
In the Software Developer Boot Camp, we prevent this type of failure by making sure that all the Programming Lessons are graduated and that you don’t learn a more complex topic like Object Oriented Programming (OOP) before learning the building blocks of the topic (like using Methods vs. Procedures).
Follow these tips to make a successful transition from one programming language to another.
The best time to learn a new programming language is now regardless of your situation (with/without a job): because it keeps you employed and marketable.