So you want to become a programmer, huh?
Maybe it’s because President Obama told you to learn computer science, and you’re not gonna argue with the President.
Or maybe it’s because you hunger to make something — a product other people use — and you’re tired of a job where, at the end of the day, you wonder what exactly you did or why it even mattered. And hey, making software is easier and cleaner than making furniture.
But realistically it’s probably because of the money. Glassdoor claims that software engineers make a median salary of $85,000, which is nothing to sneeze at. Even the lowliest programmers can look forward to taking home about $60k, and if you have a talent and drive for programming, then the only limit to your salary is your ambition.
All well and good. But how do you go from a casual smartphone owner and recreational computer user to actually making software? And then how do you turn making software into real money that appears in your wallet and bank account?
After my article on consulting in Rails, easily the most-asked question I received was: “How do I become a programmer, and what do I do when I get there?” No one is born with a keyboard strapped to their hands: every programmer you know learned how to do it. I did too. Here I’ll describe what I found most helpful for getting into programming, how I’d do it again if I had to, and what you should keep in mind if you decide to set off on the programmer’s path.
This post is extremely long. But hopefully by the end of it, you’ll have some clear ideas and inspirations for how to turn yourself into a real, honest-to-goodness programmer.