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How to become a coder: fast-track plan

According to PayScale, the average salary for a computer programmer is £30,400 per year

Step-by-step guide

It is feasible to become a knowledgeable and well-rounded web coder within six months, although it will take longer to become an expert at any coding language. 

First month: design a simple website (HTML and CSS)

Your first month should be spent learning HTML and CSS, which are the two codes used to write websites. They are also probably the easiest coding languages to pick up and will gently introduce you to the coding world. If you decide to use a training package such as Treehouse, you will be guided through the process of creating a HTML and CSS website.

Second and third months: JavaScript (front-end development)

JavaScript is the main coding language for making websites interactive. It can be used to enhance existing websites that have been built with HTML and CSS. Give yourself six weeks to learn and start using JavaScript; once you feel you have a handle on it, you could even try to use it to design and build your own web application.

Fourth and fifth months: PHP (back-end development)

Many websites use what are known as ‘back-end scripts’ to enable them to share content between pages or look up and fetch data from databases. PHP is the most commonly-used coding language for back-end development. Again, give yourself six weeks to learn and start using PHP.

Sixth month: build credibility

By the end of your fifth month you should feel confident that you can build an interactive website and write the back-end and front-end scripts.

To show your skills to potential employers/clients, you may well want to set up a personal website showcasing the websites and applications that you have created during your period of learning.

What qualities make a good coder?

– Problem-solving: a key part of software development is being able to solve problems, especially whilst considering constraints around time and budget.

– Strategic thinking: being able to take into account the short/long term consequences of decisions is important in these roles.

– Logic: logic and systematic thinking are particularly important in software development.

– Creativity: making something in the virtual world can be just as satisfying as making something physical. Those with a creative streak will be able to let their imagination come to the fore in this type of role.

– Team player: contrary to the stereotype of the coder working alone, coding can be a very collaborative process in terms of working with others to identify bugs, refine code etc.

– Intrinsically motivated: being able to derive reward from the product you create is important in this type of role.

What else you should know

According to PayScale, the average salary for a computer programmer is £30,400 per year. This figure increases with experience, with employees with five to ten years’ experience averaging £33,000.

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