CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a computer programmer.

Step 1

Is becoming a computer programmer right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do computer programmers do?
Career Satisfaction
Are computer programmers happy with their careers?
What are computer programmers like?

Still unsure if becoming a computer programmer is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a computer programmer or another similar career!

Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.

Step 2

High School

If you're interested in becoming a computer programmer, there are several high school courses that can help you prepare for a career in this field. Here are some courses that are particularly relevant:

  • Computer Science: This course is a natural choice for anyone interested in computer programming. It covers fundamental concepts such as programming languages, algorithms, data structures, and software design.
  • Mathematics: Math is a critical subject for computer programmers. High school courses in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus can all be helpful in developing the problem-solving skills that are essential in programming.
  • Physics: Physics is another subject that can help you develop problem-solving skills, particularly in areas such as mechanics, electricity, and magnetism. These skills can be useful in developing software for physical simulations, games, or robotics.
  • English: Strong written and verbal communication skills are essential in programming, particularly when working in teams. High school courses in English can help you develop these skills, as well as critical thinking and analysis.
  • Business and Entrepreneurship: If you're interested in starting your own software development company or working as a freelance programmer, courses in business and entrepreneurship can be helpful in developing skills such as marketing, finance, and project management.
  • Web Design: High school courses in web design can be helpful in developing skills such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, which are essential in creating websites and web applications.
Step 3

Formal Education Steps

Becoming a computer programmer typically involves completing a formal education in computer science or a related field. Here are the general steps to follow:

  • Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent: Most colleges and universities require a high school diploma or equivalent to enroll in a computer science program.
  • Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science or a related field: A Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science or a related field is typically required for entry-level programming jobs. The coursework will cover topics such as programming languages, algorithms, data structures, software engineering, and computer architecture.
  • Consider earning a master's degree: While not always necessary, a Master's Degree in Computer Science can help advance your career and may be required for certain positions.
  • Gain experience through internships or entry-level positions: Internships and entry-level positions can provide valuable hands-on experience in the field.
  • Build a portfolio: A portfolio of your work can showcase your programming skills to potential employers.
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and programming languages: The field of computer programming is constantly evolving, so it's important to stay current with the latest technologies and programming languages.
  • Consider obtaining professional certifications: Professional certifications can demonstrate your expertise in a particular programming language or technology, which can be attractive to potential employers.
Step 4


Internships are a great way for computer programmers to gain real-world experience and enhance their skills. Here are some tips on finding internships for computer programmers:

  • Start early: Many companies start recruiting interns several months in advance, so start looking for internships early.
  • Check with your school: Many colleges and universities have internship programs or career centers that can help connect you with companies looking for interns.
  • Look online: There are many websites, such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, and InternMatch, that list internship opportunities.
  • Attend career fairs: Career fairs are a great way to meet recruiters from different companies and learn about internship opportunities.
  • Network: Reach out to friends, family, and colleagues to see if they know of any internship opportunities. You can also join professional organizations, attend meetups, or participate in online forums to expand your network.
  • Tailor your resume and cover letter: Customize your resume and cover letter for each internship opportunity and highlight relevant coursework, projects, and programming languages.
  • Prepare for interviews: Research the company and prepare for the interview by practicing your coding skills, reviewing programming concepts, and practicing your communication skills.
Step 5


There are many certifications available for computer programmers that can help demonstrate their knowledge and expertise in a particular programming language or technology. Here are some popular certifications:

  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD): This certification demonstrates expertise in Microsoft technologies, including programming languages such as C#, HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript.
  • Oracle Certified Professional, Java SE 11 Developer: This certification demonstrates expertise in Java programming and the ability to develop applications using Java SE 11.
  • CompTIA A+ Certification: This certification validates foundational knowledge of hardware, software, and operating systems and is recognized by many employers as a baseline for entry-level IT positions.
  • Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP): This certification is designed for programmers who specialize in developing secure software applications and covers topics such as security requirements, secure design principles, and security testing.
  • AWS Certified Developer - Associate: This certification demonstrates expertise in developing applications using Amazon Web Services (AWS) and covers topics such as AWS core services, security, and deployment.
  • Google Developers Certification: This certification validates skills in mobile and web development and covers topics such as HTML/CSS, JavaScript, and mobile development.
Step 6

Online Resources

There are many online resources available for computer programmers, including websites, blogs, forums, tutorials, and videos. Here are some popular online resources:

  • Stack Overflow: A popular Q&A website for programmers to ask and answer technical questions.
  • GitHub: A web-based platform for version control and collaborative software development.
  • Codecademy: An interactive online platform that offers free coding classes in various programming languages.
  • Udacity: An online education platform that offers courses, programs, and nanodegrees in computer science and related fields.
  • Coursera: An online learning platform that offers courses, certificates, and degrees in computer science and related fields from top universities.
  • HackerRank: A platform that allows programmers to solve coding challenges and compete with others.
  • W3Schools: A popular website for learning web development technologies such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and more.
  • FreeCodeCamp: A non-profit organization that offers free coding classes in web development, data science, and more.
  • Codepen: A social development environment for front-end developers to showcase their work, experiment with new technologies, and get feedback from others.
  • Medium: A blogging platform where programmers can share their knowledge, experiences, and insights with others.
Step 7


There are many specializations within the field of computer programming, each requiring a unique set of skills and knowledge. Here are some popular specializations for computer programmers:

  • Web Development: This specialization involves developing websites, web applications, and web services using programming languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and more.
  • Mobile Development: This specialization involves developing mobile applications for iOS or Android devices using programming languages such as Swift, Kotlin, or Java.
  • Game Development: This specialization involves developing video games using game engines and programming languages such as Unity, Unreal Engine, or C++.
  • Data Science: This specialization involves analyzing and interpreting large datasets using programming languages such as Python, R, or SQL.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: This specialization involves developing algorithms and models that can learn and make predictions based on data using programming languages such as Python or Java.
  • Cybersecurity: This specialization involves securing computer systems and networks from cyber attacks using programming languages such as Python, Java, or C++.
  • DevOps: This specialization involves developing and deploying software in a collaborative and efficient manner using tools such as Git, Jenkins, or Docker.