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Who are programmers?

A developer is someone just like you or me, regardless of the fact I’m a developer, it really could be anyone. You can’t walk down the road anymore and just be able to tell if someone is a programmer because of the huge glasses and awful dress sense. While Hollywood still perceives us as shut away nerds living in our parents basements many of us live very normal lives.

The tech industry does have a huge diversity problem though, a survey from 2015 by StackOverflow shows that out of a group of 26,000 developers that took the survey 92.1% of them were male and 5.8% female. Those numbers are beginning to even out though, more and more women are moving in to the tech industry, even on my own university course the ratio was probably closer to 75/25.

What do you have to do to learn?

Coding is really like any other creative skill that someone would want to learn such as music, drawing or even graphic design, while some people may be born naturals at that specific skill the vast majority of people will have to put in time and dedication to reach the same level.

So what if you aren’t one of those people that are born naturally good at coding? Well you are going to have to want to do it, learning isn’t something you can half want to do, I think this is true in a lot of things in life, not just learning a new skill. You need the motivation along with the get up and go to want to better yourself and learn something new.

My advice is to sign up to a free online courses such as Codeacademy and Udemy. These are both very useful when starting to learn.

Something that really helped me when learning was talking with my friends about problems I was having, because we were all learning at the same time usually they had either come across the same issue and we could talk together about fixing an issue or they would know how to fix it straight away.

You might also want to think about looking in to getting a mentor if you are really serious about learning to code, there are plenty of people that will teach you for a fee, or maybe you can ask someone you already to know to teach you (it might only cost you a pizza this way).

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What do you need to start learning?

One of the best things about learning to code I think is how viable it actually is to learn, you only need two things to start to learn, some free time and an internet connection. Everything else you need to start you can get for free.

Some of the best tools for developing are free, you have very useful and powerful text editors such as Sublime Text, Notepad++ and JSFiddle which are completely free.

You can then use tools such as Github and Bitbucket to version control and upload your code to share. Once you have completed you site there are plenty of free hosting sites that will allow you to upload your code their server so everyone can access it.

While learning there are plenty of sites such as W3Schools and StackOverflow that will provide help, these are very good sites that can be useful to anyone coding not just those starting to learn.

Costs start to come in to the equation when you start wanting to use the feature heavy and more complete IDE’s over text editors such as PHPStorm.

You might also want to have your own server as well so you have more control over what platform you are running on. If you have your own server you will probably want to have your own domain name as well so people won’t have to type an IP address to get to your site, which will cost you around $10 a year depending on the domain name and domain extension, most web server hosting sites will help you with domain name setup when creating your server.

Do you need a degree in the subject to get a job?

Some people will argue that getting a degree in Computer Science or Software Engineering etc. is a complete waste of time, others will argue the complete opposite, I’m on the fence between the two, I think it depends on the person and what needs they have. Some people strive in a classroom environment while learning and other strive outside of the classroom learning hands on while doing something.

If you are one of those people that find it very easy to learn in a classroom reading out of a textbook then going to university to get a degree is probably a good idea for you, or if you are like me and find it easier to learn while doing then I would still honestly say get a degree. Even if you struggle to learn out of a textbook there is nothing stopping you going home after class and learning while doing. Think of something to make that incorporated what you are covering in class and try to make it. You have the material from class to help you when you get and there is also the internet for anything else.

If you decide not to go to university to get a degree if you want to get a job in programming you need to have a strong portfolio showcasing everything you can do. Without the degree you need to prove to prospective employers that you have the skills necessary to do the job you are applying for.

The company you are applying for will also have an effect on if you need a degree to get the job, larger corporations will want you to have a degree and some experience before even considering you, whereas smaller companies won’t require you to have a degree, this is probably the direction you will need to go in to start your career. Get a junior or intern programming role at a small company and work your way up while developing your portfolio.