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Programming as a Career

Becoming a computer programmer is certainly not an easy task, and there needs to be a certain predisposition and aptitude towards this type of job. However, it can be incredibly rewarding and also quite profitable, and there is always a shortage of software and application programmers. Since technology is growing rapidly, becoming a programmer can almost instantly guarantee you a job, even as a freelancer.

Computer programmer is an umbrella-term that encompasses a variety of fields, which range from programming web applications to developing games for independent or major companies. It is important for you to determine what kind of avenue to pursue early on, which will help you specialise in your chosen field. This will ensure fulfilling maximum potential, particularly as you will concentrate solely on the aspects considered useful to your programming career (i.e. learning specific programming languages which you will need to know).

Where to Start

Most universities, like Goldsmiths or the City University in London, offer computer science degrees (BSc Hons) which teach a variety of aspects related to the career. Courses include computer science, computing and information systems, games programming, creative computing and much more. There are also a number of A-level and HND computing courses available. It is helpful to visit a site like "What Uni?" to find a course which interests you.

As mentioned you need to have a passion and a certain inclination for this type of career. Not everyone studies to become a programmer, and you may choose to avoid college or University courses altogether. Many programmers are self-taught, and aren't lacking in ability. If you wish to avoid the academic route, you can pick one of most useful languages, like C++ or Java, and learn by practice just like any other language.

Landing a Job in the Industry

Being a programmer means you will be working as part of a team, so communication is as important as any other job.

Landing a job entirely depends on which field you've chosen to specialise in. For web programmers, there is usually plenty of work as it is always a sought-after service. Many companies have realised that the internet isn't just a fad, and there is plenty of work in this field. It is just a matter of job hunting, building a network of contacts or simply searching on internet job-boards.

For game programmers it is somewhat different, as the industry is somewhat reminiscent of art-related fields. It is important to attend events related to the industry and introduce yourself to whoever counts. By first starting small contracts with independent game developers, you will be able to build a portfolio which should help considerably towards landing a job with one of the renowned game studios (like EA or Bioware).

It is important to note that, while it may be more difficult to land a job as a game developer, major and minor game studios always require programmers. The work is certainly available, but the competition for this kind of programming career is fierce.