Coding is a complex, technical science, but it’s also an art. It’s an enjoyable and fulfilling skill, but there isn’t necessarily a fast track or super-slick algorithm to help you master it. Gaining coding skills requires dedication, hard work, and practice.
Mastering crucial hard skills is imperative for the career path, but what exactly are those skills? Let’s take a closer look at the 13 basic coding skills every programmer should have.
Hard Coding Skills
Hard skills are specific abilities you can learn, demonstrate, and concretely measure. They’re skill sets that help you perform specific tasks, or even specific jobs entirely. As a programmer, your job will be to write code and test it to make sure it does what it’s supposed to do. So what skills are needed to be a computer programmer, besides coding? Here are just a few.
1. Text Editing Tools
One of your essential tools as a programmer is a text editor — a trusty companion that enables you to shape, refine, and perfect your code. You may find that some programmers prefer the simplicity of Notepad, while others favor more sophisticated and robust options like Vim, Emacs, or Sublime Text.
With an endless array of tools available on the market, each with its own unique features, strengths, and weaknesses, you should work to have a good understanding of your various options. The knowledge will enable you to choose the best tool that caters to your specific needs, whether you need it for code highlighting, customization, or collaboration.
2. Integrated Development Environments (IDEs)
Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) are software packages that help programmers write, test, debug, and run their code. They’re like word processors for programmers, as they provide a way to write code and see the resulting output in one window.
Learning to use an IDE is one of the first skills you should develop as a programmer. By learning how to use them early on, you can take advantage of their powerful features like syntax highlighting and autocomplete.
3. Programming Logic
As a programmer, you’ll encounter complex problems and must apply reason and logic to come up with effective solutions. This type of logical thinking is an invaluable skill for programmers and can be developed through consistent practice. Why is code written a certain way? Why should you avoid certain choices when it comes to solving an issue, even if it technically makes the program work? Programming logic can help you answer these questions.
Understanding the rationale behind why code is written a certain way and avoiding suboptimal solutions is an essential aspect of programming logic. You can think of programming logic as a set of best practices. Rather than merely memorizing lines of code, it’s important to focus on the reasoning behind it and use that understanding to inform your decision-making process.
4. Data Structures & Algorithms
Data structures and algorithms are two of the most important concepts in programming. Data structures are used to store data in a program, and algorithms are used to manipulate the data. These two components work together to form the backbone of any programming language.
They make computers so powerful, and they’re the building blocks of all the code you write. Demonstrating these skills is also a common requirement for many coding interviews since they want to see your capacity for problem-solving and creativity in action.
5. Databases & SQL
Databases form the foundation of many software applications, holding vast amounts of data that enable them to operate effectively. To interact with databases, the most widely used language is SQL (Structured Query Language). This language is tailor-made for database interactions and is highly favored by businesses worldwide, including tech giants like Amazon and Google.
Becoming proficient in SQL is an incredibly valuable skill that can set you apart as a programmer. With this expertise, you can efficiently query and manipulate databases to extract meaningful insights and inform important decisions.
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6. Object-Oriented Programming (OOP)
Object-oriented programming (OOP) is arguably the most significant paradigm shift in the history of programming, and it continues to shape the industry today. The primary aim of OOP is to develop modular, reusable components that can be applied to a range of different problems.
By embracing OOP, you can greatly enhance your coding skills and produce more efficient and effective code. This approach means you can easily reuse code that has already been written, reducing the amount of time and effort required to build complex programs. With OOP, you can create code that is both flexible and adaptable, allowing you to respond quickly to changes in requirements for technology. Ultimately, mastering OOP is a crucial step in delivering high-quality software.
7. Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is a technology that allows you to store and access your files, programs, data, and other information from remote servers on the internet. It has become an essential part of business operations in recent years — both big companies and small businesses are moving their workloads to the cloud. Because of the shift to the cloud, being a programmer for businesses of any size likely entails having some know-how when working in the cloud.
8. Web Development
The internet has become part of our everyday lives. We use it for shopping, banking, socializing, and more. So web development skills help give you a competitive edge in today’s job market, whether you’re interested in front-end or back-end web development.
9. Development Frameworks
Programming languages are great tools, but they’re just that: tools. To build something truly useful, you’ll need to learn how to use them properly. That means knowing how to build software using development frameworks. A development framework is a set of tools and libraries that make writing and maintaining code easier.
Frameworks are designed to be used together and are usually built on top of each other. Frameworks can make development much easier because they provide a lot of functionality without requiring developers to write it all themselves. They also make it easier to share code between projects because the framework code is reused rather than copied into each new project.
10. Code Debugging
Even the most experienced programmers make mistakes in their code. Debugging is the process of finding and fixing those mistakes, bugs, or errors in a program. Debugging is an important skill for programmers because it helps you write better code and get your programs working properly. Advancing your debugging skills can save time, money, and stress because you won’t have to spend hours trying to fix something that isn’t working properly.
11. Network Protocols & Security Issues
The internet is a big place, and it’s only getting bigger. With more people using the internet, it’s important for programmers to have an understanding of network protocols and security issues.
Network protocols refer to a set of regulations that computers abide by to exchange information with one another. Similar to how humans communicate using language, protocols are the computers’ language of communication.
Security issues, on the other hand, are any weaknesses or susceptibilities present in software or hardware that could be exploited by hackers or malicious users. It’s imperative that programmers possess a deep understanding of both network protocols and security issues to develop secure programs.
12. Git & GitHub
Git and GitHub are tools that you’ll need to know as a programmer. Git is a free and open-source program that helps you keep track of your code, merge together multiple versions, and monitor changes. Essentially, GitHub is a website that provides free hosting for Git repositories.
You can use these two tools to track your code’s history, work with other programmers, and publish your code to the public. These two tools are essentials in the toolbox of software engineers, and you’ll likely encounter them in almost any software engineering role.
Containers have become essential for developers and systems administrators because they allow you to isolate applications from one another, making it easier to update them without causing problems with any other open programs. Containers work by creating a self-contained runtime environment that contains all the required software libraries and dependencies needed to run an application without relying on the host operating system.
Containers also make it easier to move applications between different environments such as testing and production servers. Containers are an important part of the cloud computing landscape. As a developer, understanding the fundamentals of containers and how they operate can significantly enhance your coding experience. By using containers, you can ensure that your applications run seamlessly, are easy to manage and deploy, and are compatible with a wide range of environments.
Are Those All the Programming Skills You Need?
As a programmer, having the necessary skills to succeed in your job is crucial. Of course, the most obvious programming skills are the ones we’ve already discussed — hard skills like coding languages and frameworks.
So what do you need for coding, besides those? The answer is simple — as a software engineer, you’ll be required to work in environments that require teamwork and collaboration, making your communication skills and your ability to work well with others essential. That’s why the best programmers are well-rounded, possessing both hard and soft skills.
It’s worth noting that there are many ways to develop these soft skills. Some people prefer to read books or take classes to develop them, while others learn on the job. So while we’re focusing on hard skills needed for a career in coding, remember that your software engineering soft skills are important for your career as well.
Start Developing Your Skills with App Academy
Learning how to code isn’t necessarily an easy feat. If you find yourself asking, “What skills do you need for coding?” then start with some of the ones we’ve discussed above. Mastering these basic coding skills is a crucial part of your career path as a programmer or software developer.
If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to understand these fundamentals and learn how to apply them in the real world, you’ll lay the foundation on which to build the rest of your programming skills.
App Academy offers programs that can teach you these fundamental coding skills and more, helping you begin your journey to a fulfilling career as a software engineer. Explore our programs to find the one that fits your lifestyle and can help you take your career to the next level.
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