Technology is a part of our everyday existence.
It can positively affect our lives and our productivity, whether we are tracking our personal health on our smartwatch, having an online e-commerce business or stream the latest 3D animation film. It is an ever-evolving industry where we are used to weekly app updates, the need for computer skills and we experience how essential technology is to help businesses in their sales, operations and growth.
If you have a passion for technology, computers or software, and are looking for a career that is in-demand, then a potential career in Information Technology, Computer Programming, Cyber Security or anything computers, might be the answer to finding a successful professional future.
Why Learn Computer Programming?
The need for technology will continue to grow and the future of ICT (Information Communications Technology) in South Africa paints an attractive picture for future tech specialists.
As the country with the most advanced ICT sector on the African continent, we do however, have a continued need for skilled software developers in South Africa and businesses struggle more every year to find the skilled IT professionals they need to completely transition and benefit from the global, digital economy.
With a higher demand, comes better career opportunities and even if you are planning to move into management, you’ll benefit from understanding analytics, data and programming. Having core skills in computers can help any person with future jobs and digital skills are more frequently required in most professional careers and departments, including marketing and sales-, design and engineering-, management- and research teams.
Technology, programming and computers enable teams across the globe to innovate, operate, manufacture and advertise their businesses.
Here are some additional benefits of studying computer sciences, Information Technology, Development or Programming:
- There’s a massive skills shortage globally and therefore your chance of finding a job is much greater
- You’ll combine your technical skills with creativity and gain beneficial long-term personal skills like persistence, problem-solving and attention to detail
- You can start your own business
- You can work from home and have international clients
- You don’t necessarily need a degree
- It continues to grow, change and advance, which means you’ll always learn and can work yourself into a niche area
- Once you are in the industry you are on an equal playing field with international talent due to the accessibility of information on the web
Coding and programming is a bit more specific, but most of those benefits apply to these disciplines as well. Read this great article on why you should learn to code.
Programmer, Coder, Engineer or Developer?
What is your dream job?
Knowing the answer will help you create a roadmap that will help you achieve that goal. It will also help you to answer fundamental questions when you consider your training and the course or diploma you should do, the subjects you want to major in and whether a self-paced study program can work for you.
Do you want to build an app or a website, build a software programme, code for a game or understand data reports? A good programmer will be able to understand basic coding aspects around most of these, but if you are learning to code for the first time, you’ll have to choose which computer skills are essential digital skills for laying the foundation of your career.
Do you know what the differences are between Developers, Engineers, Programmers and Coders?
Programmers generally make use of existing code like Python, CSS or HTML and they become an expert in that language. They will translate algorithms and system requirements into a program for the coder who will then write the pieces of code or script. If you learn the history of coding, you’ll learn how coders used to develop the cards and coding messages while the programmers design the program that these old cards were fed into. Programmers also test and consult with other team members and generally start out as coders.
Developers are similar to programmers, but they focus more on general development and work on things like websites and e-commerce sites. Software Engineers are more qualified with a degree and use their engineering skills to do a similar work to a developer, but with more knowledge around engineering and the design of new software.
Be sure you investigate and compare whether one of these sought-after computing careers in South Africa might be your ideal job:
- Data Analysts and Scientists
- Software Developers and Engineers
- IT Application Developers
- IT Program Managers
While knowing about the industry certainly helps, it shouldn’t hold you back from and the sooner you can start to build your digital skills, the better. Here’s an article on how to start your first programming project.
The programming language you choose will be determined by the projects you’ll work on or your future career ambitions, but before we jump into the various languages we recommend for each job, let’s look at whether you require a computer course, a certificate or college degree.
Degree, College or Courses
We live in fortunate times where students have multiple ways to qualify and ready themselves for the business world. To prepare you for the rapidly changing world of technology, there are thus a variety of routes of study you can take:
- A formal degree at a university like UJ, UCT, UP, WITS or Stellenbosch
- Competing a certificate, diploma or course at college
- Online study to acquire a formal qualification of degree
- Online self-paced study program of computer courses
There are some core considerations when you compare and evaluate the various options to become a qualified programmer or information technology specialist. The answers to these questions will guide your decision:
- Can and do you want to study a full-time degree on a campus or is online studies an option?
- What is your budget?
- What accreditations do you need for the industry you want to move into?
- Do you know in what you want to specialise (i.e., Software development) and have an idea of the subjects you want to take?
Studying at University will allow you the opportunity to study full-time for 3-4 years. It is however more difficult to get accepted and universities are generally a bit pricier than colleges due to their prestige image, campus life and student support.
The alternative is doing a course, diploma or degree at a college. This can either be online studies or full-time campus studies. Most of them will also have generic computer courses in computer science, information systems (IS) and software.
Eduvos is one of the hundreds of independent colleges in South Africa that provide qualifications like a BSc. in Computer Science. This program has all the necessary accreditations in South Africa and has specific start dates. It takes 3-5 years to complete and are ideal if you are looking for broad and intensive training to ready you for the industry with specialisation areas like database design, programming, project management, information systems, operating systems and cyber security. Be sure you do an intensive online search to compare the course content and subjects, the time to complete, start date, the costs and accreditation of these schools to find your best option.
The most exciting part about studying computers is the fact that you now only need your computer and an internet connection to get started. Self-paced studies is a great way for trying out different programming languages, courses and specialist areas. You can choose from a wide range of free courses online.
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) generally offer the introduction level certificates for free. You can try it out and see whether you’d like to advance in a specific field or language before doing a full-on qualification. Most MOOCs also offer internationally accredited qualifications but be sure you verify whether they mean something in the industry before investing in any courses.
Whatever path of study you choose, we have a convenient and cost-effective way for you to get help with your studies. Superprof lists a range of specialist tutors, and you can find online tutor support to guide and assist you, whether it’s to supplement your current degree studies, or to help you map out your self-paced tutor and course plan.
The Popular Programming Languages
Every beginner-level coder will have to gain knowledge around the basic programming languages if they study a degree in computer science or information technology. Universities, colleges and certificate courses are created to give students the support, software and digital skills to learn core programming languages used by modern developers.
The programming language used by a coder or programmer is like their tools or equipment; they need to suit the task at hand and opinion also comes into play when you ask professionals what’s the best programming language to learn for a beginner.
If you plan to do your own self-paced study program, you’ll have to know which of the over 7000 languages are best suited for your future ambitions. Here are some of the most popular programming languages for specific careers:
- Data-driven careers like database management and analytics: Python, SQL, Java
- Computer Systems Engineer: Python, Java, C++
- Game Development: C
Are you ready to get started in one of those? Read more about the various languages here.
Start Early and Continue to Play
Children learning to code will be able to find a variety of programs on the internet that will help them play and learn the basics around coding. Starting early will not only establish the process thinking required to become a programmer, but it will also expose them to the career options as they grow and learn more about programming.
The sooner you start learning the better, as research has proven that over 50% of programmers who started coding before they started high school now earn more than R60,000/month which is about double that of coders who only started in their late twenties.
Getting clarity around whether you enjoy programming, coding, development, management or data will help you choose a career that’s not only fulfilling, but it’ll also help to keep you inspired and motivated, so we want to encourage you to get your hands dirty to read as much as you can and start your coding journey today.
If you get lost or need advice, there’s a Superprof tutor in your area to help.
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