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How to Become a Coder: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn about the necessary steps to become a coder. Research the education, training information, and experience required for starting a career in coding. View article »

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94% college-bound high school students
…said it was important to communicate with colleges during the search process. (Source: Noel-Levitz 2012 trend study)
  • 0:01 Should I Become a Coder?
  • 0:33 Career Requirements
  • 1:02 Attain an Undergraduate Degree
  • 1:57 Consider a Master's Degree
  • 2:22 Find Internships & Experience

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Coder?

A coder is an umbrella name for programmers who create and implement various computer programs using source code. Unlike computer software engineers who create the computer language and algorithms from scratch, coders and programmers are only responsible for converting the engineer's instructions into computer instructions, usually into a specific language that the computer can read. Coders often spend many work hours sitting at a desk and viewing a computer monitor.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate's or Bachelor's degree
Degree Field(s) Computer science, information systems
Certification Certification can improve employment opportunities
Key Skills Knowledge of multiple coding languages, programming, database management, communication skills
Median Salary (2015)* $79,530 (for computer programmers)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net Online

Steps to Becoming a Coder

Step 1: Attain an Undergraduate Degree in Computer Science

Some employers only require that coders have an associate's degree; however, a bachelor's degree usually results in a higher-paying career with more flexible options. A bachelor's or associate's degree in the field will require courses in computer science, programming, web development, operating systems, database concepts, and computer architecture. In addition to academic work, students will also receive hands-on opportunities learning how to convert code.

Success Tip:

To enhance your college experience, take courses in a field of interest. Coders are often required to have knowledge of the field in which they work. Someone working with medical programs may need some understanding of medicine, while someone coding for a bank may need to know about financial systems. Taking courses in such industries may improve an individual's chances of finding employment.

Step 2: Consider a Master's Degree

Coders wishing to advance to managerial and lead programming roles most often apply for master's degree programs in a very specific coding or programming field, such as implementing engineer's designs, security, or mobile computing. These individuals often possess high levels of personal experience and management skills.

Step 3: Find Internships and Experience in Programming

Internships are fairly common with programming students. Large corporations and firms regularly host intensive internships for programmers looking to get into the industry. This experience gives prospective coders a high probability of beginning a career in their specific area of choice.

Success Tip:

To improve your employment chances, look into certification. According to the BLS, earning programming certification can enhance employment opportunities. Programming certification is offered through several different vendors and will demonstrate your proficiency with a software program. For example, earning Oracle Java certification ensures that you have the knowledge and skills to use this programming code.

To review, with an undergraduate degree and field experience, coders can earn about $80,000 a year to create and implement various computer programs using source code.

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