I love being a software developer.
I get to dream things up and create them, work on exciting projects, and write code that becomes programs people use in the real world.
I work with interesting people, solve interesting problems, do interesting things, and learn about the world in exciting ways.
As a computer programmer, I literally get to help create the future.
It is an exciting career that has unlimited possibilities, incredible prospects, exciting possibilities, and a future that nobody fully understands and nobody can predict.
Computer programming attracts many of the brightest and most intelligent people in the world. But unfortunately, despite all of this, the programming world is profoundly and sadly misunderstood.
Movies, TV, and other media have portrayed computer programmers and programming in a way that just doesn’t fit reality (maybe with the exception of the popular tv show “silicon valley”, I love that show).
This runs deeper than funny memes and funny episodes on TV, which make computer programmers into geeky nerds who don’t have social skills. These myths drive potential programmers away from a lucrative and fulfilling career as a programmer or try to convince people that they have to be a certain way or think a certain way to write code for computer programs.
In this article, I want to set the record straight and tell you nine of the most common myths about computer programming and why they’re not true.
You need to be great at math to write programming.
This may be one of the more popular myths about computer programing. And unfortunately, it scares a lot of potential programmers away. Do you need to be great at math to write code? Absolutely not! There are hundreds of computer programming languages used for different applications.
Some (I can’t emphasize this enough) specialties are more math-oriented than others, like R programming language . But, very few of them require more math than the average person learns in school, and many require less.
If math is difficult for you, focus on some of the numerous programming specialties that don’t prioritize math, like web development. There are numerous options and paths for you if you don’t want to do something heavily involved in math.
So math skills are not necessary for 90% of the programming jobs, so don’t get discouraged if you didn’t win the national math championship. Programming can still be the right thing for YOU.
The critical thing to remember is that there are now programming languages, careers, and paths that are perfect for people with all kinds of different skill sets.
You need to spend years studying before you can start writing code
The world of programming is constantly changing. So, if you want to build a career as a programmer , you need to realize that once you start learning, you’ll never really stop.
So, how much time do you need before you can start writing code? Less than you think.
You can begin to build simple programs within just a few hours, and over time, as you learn, you can build up to more and more complex projects.
Once you dip your toes into the water of writing computer programs, you’ll quickly learn there’s always something to learn, but it’s much easier to start [link to a blog about starting] than most people think.
Programmers are anti-social or don’t have a life.
If there’s one stereotype that gives programmers a bad name, it’s this one. I know a lot of programmers. I also know a lot of non-programmers.
Programmers aren’t any more or less “social” than anyone else.
There are introverted and extroverted programmers, just like in every field, from lawyers to builders to painters.
Whether you are the life of the party or prefer to be at home by yourself, computer programming has the potential to be an enriching career.
Programmers are bad communicators.
I suppose we get this reputation because we pick up a lot of technical languages pretty quickly.
Using terms that people don’t understand, like Blockchain, can make it sound like we are poor communicators, but like in every field, we need to use specific terms and phrases.
I’d say the opposite is true. Programmers are often great communicators, especially those that regularly talk to non-programmers. It’s hard, and some are better than others, but we work as hard as anyone to communicate well.
Many of the best and highest-paid programmers are the very people who also have some of the best communication skills.
You need to be an expert before you can make any money.
Indeed, you must be a “competent” programmer to make money. But, because things move so quickly in the programming world, the only thing you need to be an “expert” is learning, which is just as important as knowing how to write code.
You must know the fundamentals of whatever programming skills you are using (programming languages, formatting, and other similar things). You also must learn the basics of programming in general. But, beyond that, the job you are trying to do will determine how much “expertise” you need and what skills are the most important.
Many careers within the computer programming field don’t require high-level programming expertise. Instead, they need some specific knowledge combined with non-programming skills.
And, because so much is changing, the things you need to know about will also change.
So, you don’t need to be an expert to get started in the field. And in many situations, starting at the bottom and working your way up is the best way to learn.
Programming requires high intelligence.
There are many brilliant programmers in the world.
Some can write complicated and intricate code in their sleep and intuitively understand how to build programs that make others (like me) jealous.
But, those people are rare.
Computer programming doesn’t require any higher degree of raw intelligence (or natural aptitude) than any other field. Your average programmer has the same intelligence and attributes as most people in any field.
And as new and more intuitive languages develop, more people enter the programming field, and it’s becoming easier and easier to start and grow a career for anyone.
And one more thing, coding can actually help you build develop skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, and even creativity. So, while I can’t claim that programming will make you smarter, I’ll say that the skills you use will make you a better thinker, which is probably more important than intelligence anyway.
Women are not interested in programming.
One of the saddest parts of the programming community is that most programmers are men.
Few people realize that in the 1940s, many of the very first programmers, who worked on the most rudimentary code, were women.
But, stereotypes have driven many women away from the field.
However, things are changing, and many great developers I personally know or know from the industry are women.
So if you are a woman and you would like to start coding, don’t get discouraged. YOU can be a great developer.
If you want to connect with other women who code, follow the movement “Women who code” on Twitter or any other social media.
Programmers can (and should) remember all code, functions, and APIs from memory.
Programming languages are just like the languages we speak every day. The more we use them, the more comfortable and fluent we get with them.
But, programmers regularly have to look things up and use tools to simplify the programming process, just like we all do when learning a new language. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that every programmer knows how to write a bunch of different programming languages from memory without error.
Even those with great memories and years of experience will often look up how to solve some of the basic things.
And there are tools that help, too. So we don’t need to remember everything, like text editors and IDEs such as VS Code or Webstorm.
You need to go to college to be a programmer
No. You certainly don’t need a degree to have a career as a software developer .
As discussed in this article and numerous others, you MUST know how to learn if you want to be a good programmer.
But, that doesn’t mean you need to take several years to get a 4-year degree to learn how to program.
There are numerous programming courses, free and paid, to help you get started.
There are also communities, organizations, and membership sites to help you do this.
If you desire to go to college to learn computer science, that’s great.
But, learning to write computer code in a classroom doesn’t guarantee you’ll build a great career or have any fulfillment once you graduate.
And depending on where you live in the world, it can be costly.
Don’t let these or other popular beliefs keep you away from programming.
It can be more challenging to learn for some than others, but it also comes with great rewards and satisfaction.
I always encourage people to learn to code, even if they don’t intend to follow up a career in tech, and especially if we are talking about kids, coding teaches them so much more than simply writing lines of code.
Not every computer programmer needs to make a career of it. However, it’s becoming a skill that sets you in more and more non-programming careers.
As the world becomes more dependent on computers and the code that runs these computers, more people will need to understand this code.
If there’s anything you should take away from this article, it is that your programming career is YOURS, and only YOURS, and what you make out of it, is what you believe in.
The world of computer programming is an infinite canvas where you can paint your own destiny. Don’t waste time trying to conform to someone else’s vision of what a “programmer” should be.
Thanks for reading!