Advice » Career Development» Education & Training » Learning to Program Can H ...
Learning to Program Can Help Noncoders Stand Out

Learning to Program Can Help Noncoders Stand Out

Once considered an arcane and hard-to-learn skill, programming is no longer the mysterious domain of professional programmers. Technical and even nontechnical professionals, such as Web producers, designers and writers, can gain an edge by learning to program or brushing up rusty coding skills.

What's causing IT professionals beyond hard-core programmers to start programming? Reasons include:

  • The plethora of books and online resources devoted to programming.
  • The advent of programming languages designed for ease of use and rapid deployment.
  • The ease of sharing programs with a worldwide audience via the Web using technologies such as LAMP.

Plenty of people want -- or need -- to learn programming. Techies may want to give programming a whirl to see if it could develop into a full-fledged career. Nontechnical Web professionals may want to add programming to their arsenal to expand their contributions or simply have a better understanding of software development. Help-desk experts and networking pros, meanwhile, may need programming abilities to create small task-automation programs or make more valuable contributions to projects.

Learning Curve 

How do you learn to program? Opinions vary, but those who've done it generally emphasize jumping in with books and online resources. Luckily, current programming languages, tools and resources make the learning process far easier than it was in the early days of computing.

“Learning things today is much easier than it was even 10 years ago because of the Internet,” says Brian Hook, a software and computer game developer. “Search engines make finding answers to common problems easy, and the Internet is littered with message boards devoted to programmers of all levels.”

Start Simple

Dave Taylor, a computer book author and technology guru, suggests starting with the basics. “The key is to start by learning a simple, easy programming language that gives you feedback and helps you learn,” he says.

Rather than seeking to master Java, for instance, you might start with a language that's easily accessible on a PC, such as Visual Basic for Windows-based systems, AppleScript for the Macintosh or JavaScript, which is available on multiple platforms, Taylor says.

If you're ambitious, you might then delve into C#, Java, Perl, PHP, Python or Ruby on Rails. Moreover, techies working in a specific area -- network engineering or database administration, for example -- should consider learning the languages most commonly used in their particular specialty.

Dive into It

Those who have mastered programming typically suggest a can-do approach to the task: Set yourself a problem, then tackle it. "The best way to learn to program is to just start programming, " Hook says. "Inevitably on your first attempt, you'll be frustrated and probably won't do a very good job, but with practice it becomes easier. "

As Taylor puts it: "Start small, get some success under your belt, then build from there."

Read Up

You will need some guidance, of course. A class is one route, but many self-taught programmers favor learning from the many books available on the topic, such as Beginning Programming with Java for Dummies, Programming PHP and the Visual QuickStart from Peachpit.

You can also try online tutorials, available at such sites as Good PHP Tutorials, and W3 Schools. New tutorials pop up all the time; locate popular ones by visiting and searching on “programming tutorial.”

Want to Make a Career of It?

And what if you decide a career in programming is for you? Then you'll need additional training. You may be able to find a niche without a degree, but it won't be easy without a bachelor's in computer science or a related discipline, says Kim Berry, president of the Programmers Guild. "Without a formal degree, one will be summarily locked out of many positions, and beat out by the competition in others, " he says.

Latest Jobs

Masco Cabinetry
Posted: 05/29/2015
Ann Arbor, MI
Posted: 05/29/2015
Valley Stream, NY, 11581
A-Line Staffing Solutions
Posted: 05/29/2015
Richardson, TX, 75081
Posted: 05/29/2015
Watchung, NJ, 07069
Toyota Carlsbad
Posted: 05/29/2015
Carlsbad, CA, 92011

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.8.0.34-313