If you’re interested in taking up computers and want to be a computer programmer then what follows may be of some use to you if for no other reason than it will prepare you for what you can expect to find in a computer programming curriculum. An associate of mine was a computer programming instructor, still keeps up with the latest and has provided the information below.
A computer programming curriculum, as opposed to the old days, is a very intensive course study. It can take as long as 2 years to complete some programs. But there are some basics that you can expect to learn in all programs.
The first course you are most likely to run into when going to school for computer programming is logic. This is a course where they teach you to think like a machine. While this may sound difficult or close to impossible, it is actually the easiest part of the course, though a part that many people have trouble with. Understanding how a computer actually thinks is an abstract concept, but it is important if you, as a programmer, are going to be able to construct programs that won’t crash and burn in the middle of execution.
The logic course then branches out into what is called flowcharting. This is where the student is taught how to graphically represent on grid paper just what it is that the program or system is supposed to do. No actual programming language is taught here, as the flowcharts are done in simple English, but these flowcharts are the foundations for every well designed computer program.
After the flowcharting section is complete, the student is usually given a simple programming language to learn. The simplest and most fundamental is a language called BASIC, which stands for Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. BASIC was one of the first higher level languages created and is still used mostly for instructional purposes today.
After the student has his first taste of actually writing computer instruction code, he then moves into the part of the course where he is going to learn the languages he intends to use on the job. There are many languages to choose from and each program has its own core language requirements.
For those who want to go into simple programming of applications, that will be used to do mostly batch processing of jobs, a student may learn languages like COBOL or RPG, though these languages are not as much in demand today as they were in the 80s.
If a student wants to go onto object oriented, or what is called Windows programming, he may learn languages like C++, Visual BASIC or Delphi.
In either case, if a student wants to get into systems programming then he will most likely have to learn a very low level language like Assembler. These languages, unlike the higher level languages that are very English oriented, are very far removed from English and are more difficult to learn.
By the time the average programmer is done with the entire course he probably knows 2 or 3 different languages and has a concentration of knowledge in at least one particular field such as GUI or some other design.
Most courses will require you to submit a final real world project at the end of the course in order to earn your certificate.
Computer programming as a profession is an excellent field with many opportunities since most of our world is now run by computers. Just be prepared to put in a lot of long hours of study.
Author: Michael Russell