Finding Your Path to Computer Programming

Posted By Chris Bigelow on September 12, 2016

Computers make the world go round. But who tells the computers what to do? Computer programmers! Do you have what it takes to become a computer programmer? If you're looking for a rewarding career, computing programming could be right for you. Computer programmers are not born with some kind of special brain. With the right knowledge and training, anyone could become a programmer. Yes, even you. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median income for computer programmers is more than double the median income for all U.S. occupations. Let's take a look at how to get into computer programming and prepare yourself for a career in this field.

What Computer Programmers Do

First, let's clarify what we mean by the term computer programmer. According to the BLS, “Computer programmers write and test code that allows computer applications and software programs to function properly. They turn the program designs created by software developers and engineers into instructions that a computer can follow. In addition, programmers test newly created applications and programs to ensure that they produce the expected results. If they do not work correctly, computer programmers check the code for mistakes and fix them.”

Learn Computer Programming on Your Own

Can you become a computer programmer on your own? Is it possible to build a career in computer programming without a degree? If you're new to computer programming, you can get your feet wet at Watch out—the free, one-hour tutorials are addictive! (Some of the tutorials have an age limit of 106. If you're 107 or older, you'll need to find a different website.) With resources like, nothing is holding you back from learning to code right now. Blogger Ryan Levick writes about how he started his career in marketing but then switched to computer programming on his own. “I took great online Computer Science 101 classes offered for free by Harvard, Stanford, and MIT,” Ryan writes. “I also soaked up introductory material on programming, including courses from and Codecademy.” Ryan admits he's no genius.
“With patience and dedication (and at times mild obsession), anyone can start coding. I've met others just like me—people from different backgrounds such as theater, political science, and music who have found that their true passion lies in programming. If you're thinking about taking the leap, don't be afraid to take chances and explore.”
Find out more about Ryan's self-guided journey to a computer programming career here.

Start Out with an Associate's Degree

While anyone can easily start learning how to program computers, most people need a degree to make it into a career. According to the BLS, “Most computer programmers have a bachelor's degree; however, some employers hire workers who have an associate's degree.” Did you know you could earn an associate's degree in computer programming in only 20 months? In addition to helping you deepen your understanding of computers and computer systems, a top-notch associate's degree program will help you learn better problem-solving skills. It could also open doors to your preferred employers.1 You will study several programming languages, database design and administration, and programming for the Internet. What courses should you take to become a computer programmer? As an example, here's a list of some of the key courses in the computer programming associate's degree program (AAS) at Stevens-Henager College:
  • Computer Fundamentals
  • Databases
  • Computer Law
  • Management Principles
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Networking Concepts
  • Introduction to Operating Systems
  • Solution Concepts
  • Programming Logic and Design
  • Web Page Programming
  • Database Programming
  • Programming Concepts
  • .NET Programming
Don't worry—learning a computer language is nowhere near as difficult as learning a foreign language like French or Chinese! “Most programmers learn a few computer languages while in school,” reports the BLS. “However, a computer science degree gives students the skills needed to learn new computer languages easily. During their classes, students receive experience writing code, testing programs, fixing errors, and doing many other tasks that they will perform on the job.”

Get Your Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science

If you want a career in computer programming, a bachelor's degree in computer science could be the best way to go. It helps if you have good concentration and attention to detail, some aptitude for mathematics and logic, and an interest in analysis and deduction. The best computer science schools offer a variety of concentrations. At Stevens-Henager College, for example, you can choose from two exciting emphases for your computer science bachelor's degree (BS): Software and Mobile Applications Development Networking and Information Systems Security Software and Mobile Applications Development Why play on your smartphone when you could program it? Why only use software when you could also help build it? The IT world needs you to help create and debug the programs of tomorrow. Networking and Information Systems Security In today's computerized world, companies need to stay connected and secure. You could launch a rewarding new career by helping run day-to-day computer operations at almost any kind of organization. At Stevens-Henager College, you could finish your bachelor's degree in as few as 36 months. We also offers several additional computer degrees,2 including the following:

Get Started Now

Whether you want to start learning on your own, go for an associate's degree in computer programming, or get your bachelor's degree in computer science, now's the perfect time. At Stevens-Henager College, we make getting started easy. Our friendly admissions consultants will help you every step of the way. Simply select any of our career-focused degree programs and start gaining the skills you need for today's IT jobs. Request more information here.