Updated December 2022
Interested in becoming a programmer? Concerned that it might be too difficult to break into the field?
The good news is that you can complete programming training in a fairly short time and be ready to join the workforce.
But if you want to land great jobs and move up in the programming field, you will need a specific set of skills and characteristics. You’ll also need to know how to handle a few challenges programmers typically face when trying to move their careers forward.
We studied industry data and spoke with some programming pros to get a sense of just how hard it is to get started in the field.
Here’s what you need to know.
ARE MANY PROGRAMMING JOBS AVAILABLE?
It’s obviously easier to start a programming career if there are lots of open positions. And that certainly is the case across Canada.
According to data from the Canadian Occupational Projection System, jobs for programmers are expected to grow steadily over the next few years. More than 6,000 positions should become available each year between 2022 and 2025.
So there are plenty of programming jobs to be had.
DO YOU NEED A DEGREE TO BECOME A PROGRAMMER?
You don’t necessarily need a four-year degree to get hired as a programmer. A college diploma takes less time and money and prepares you for entry-level roles.
Some companies do have a hard-and-fast rule about only accepting programmers with computer science degrees. Their hiring processes are often handled by recruiters or HR managers who are simply looking to check off a list of requirements when screening candidates.
Other organizations, especially smaller companies and start-ups, take a more flexible approach. Completing college-level programmer training is often enough to get you in the door.
In fact, a Stack Overflow survey of professional programmers found that 1 in 4 do not have a degree.
Taka Mineta is one such example. He’s a Montreal-based Senior Web Solutions Architect for Toon Boom Harmony, an animation software company.
Taka never completed a degree. Instead, he took a few college classes in web development and C++ programming and honed his skills through self-study.
He believes hard work and dedication can lead to success.
“A degree is useful to nail the base of programming. But going to university doesn’t guarantee anyone a job in this field. You need to dive in and get some real work experience. I spent a lot of time teaching myself new programming languages and pushing myself hard to expand my skills.
I started small, got experience at different companies, and proved my abilities by providing effective client solutions. In the end, you don’t need a degree to get good results.”
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO ADVANCE IN THE PROGRAMMING FIELD?
Whether you get a computer science degree or a programmer diploma, you will need to keep developing new skills if you want to stay relevant and advance your career.
Programming instructor Nima Tahriri says the field is so large and changes so quickly that you can’t expect your training to cover it all.
“To be honest, no programming course can teach you everything. Each student must explore their own particular interests and develop those skills over time in the workplace.”
Plus, technology changes so fast that the specific languages and tools you use today may be obsolete or archaic in just a few years.
The people who thrive in this field are motivated and disciplined. They push themselves to keep learning and getting better.
Check out these notable findings from the Stack Overflow survey:
☑️ More than 70% of programmers learn a new technology at least once a year (35% do so every few months)
☑️ Almost 80% write code as a hobby outside of work
The takeaway: When it comes to building a successful career as a programmer, hard work, continuous learning and independent study are key.
WHAT CHALLENGES DO PROGRAMMERS OFTEN FACE WHILE ADVANCING THEIR CAREERS?
What can keep you from getting ahead in the programming field? Here are a few common obstacles.
☑️ Limiting the pool of employers
Some programmers fixate on landing a job with tech giants like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google (collectively known as FAANG).
But the possibilities are much wider-ranging. Opportunities for programmers can be found in companies both big and small in nearly every sector, especially education, healthcare, retail, and banking.
☑️ Focusing too much on one type of technology
This goes back to the need to keep learning. If you spend too much time in one specialty with one employer, you can limit your growth and career advancement opportunities.
☑️ Neglecting soft skills
Coding competence is not all you need. It’s also important to have good teamwork, communication, and analytical thinking skills.
Nima says it takes a certain approach to succeed in this field.
“You need to be logical, analytical, patient, and a good problem solver. Programming is a way of thinking. It has nothing to do with how smart you are.
It’s about being able to dissect a problem and solve it as you would a complex puzzle.”
READY TO START BUILDING YOUR PROGRAMMER CAREER?
A good college-level program can help you develop programming skills in a relatively short time.
Check out the Programmer Analyst diploma from Herzing College.
The program can be completed in just 15 months. It includes a 14-week internship at a Montreal-area company.
Our students get comprehensive training in software development and graduate with the knowledge and skills employers want.
Want more info? An admissions advisor can answer all your questions about course schedules, career options, admission requirements, costs, financial aid, and more.
Click below to get more details on the program and chat live with an advisor. We’re here to help!