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How to Become a Programmer

Unlike what you might find in some books and articles, programming cannot be actually learned in 7, 21 or even 365 days. It is a cumulative process that builds up your skills day after day and year after year. However, programming can also be fun and rewarding (mentally, spiritually and financially). This guide does not promise to give a magical easy way to becoming a programmer, and the ordering of the steps is not sacred, but you'll get a general outline of how to become a programmer in one of the modern programming fields.

Prepare yourself for becoming a programmer:

1. Take at least one introductory course in Mathematics (i.e. introductory calculus as it significantly improves your experience as a programmer).

2. Take an introductory course in logic, discrete Mathematics or both.

3. Learn at least one of the following program conception techniques. As you advance in programming you'll need to learn almost all of them. The methods are listed in the most often used order.

Flow Charting (globally considered the easiest to learn)
Unified Modeling Language (UML)
Object Relational Mapping (ORM)

4. Learn simple database concepts such as tables, views/queries and procedures. You can use any simple database package to do this, such as MS access, DB V, Fox Pro, Paradox. MySQL is a particularly good database to learn because it's free, commonly used, and databases are commonly accessed with SQL queries.

5. Learn about programming paradigms (an introduction is enough for now), the most important being procedural, object oriented, functional, logic and declarative programming.

Decide what type of programmer you are/want to be. Programmers generally fall under one of the following categories:

  • Web Programmer
  • Desktop Application Programmer
    • Operating System (OS) Oriented (tied to a single operating system or set of operating systems)
    • Platform Independent
  • Distributed Applications Programmer
  • Library/Platform/Framework/Core Programmer
  • System Programmer
    • Kernel Programmer
    • Driver Programmer
    • Compiler Programmer
  • Programming Scientist

Learn the technologies and programming languages related to your programming field of choice. The following sections break down the tasks for different types of programming.

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