5 Ways to Know If You're a Good Coder

Sarah, 32, has been working as a coder for a web development company for the past six months. Before that, she worked in insurance. She says: ‘I wanted to change careers. I knew I was good at my previous job and that I had certain strengths or skills, including attention to details and working through things methodically, but I guess I felt a little insecure. There were so many changes in my company and I wanted to upskill in an area which I knew would have both high demand and good salaries, currently and in the future. Coding seemed the ideal new career path for me.’ Sarah now works as a junior Full Stack Web Developer at a tech start-up company. However, she wonders if she’s as good in her current job as she was in her previous one. ‘I find myself asking if I’m any good in my new line of work,’ she says. How would Sarah know if she were a good coder or not?

Am I a good coder?

Software Engineering Tips presents a number of useful way of answering the question about whether one is a good coder. Here are some points they raise:

1. An experimental instinct

A good programmer tries something rather than merely asking a more senior person whether a particular strategy will work. Remember – the compiler and runtime can answer a question faster than a person. Somebody with this kind of experimental instinct will often dabble in other computer languages, especially ones from a different family.

2. Good technical skills

This point probably goes without saying. However, John Rampton, a tech start-up expert, says in Entrepreneur that many hiring managers make the mistake of hiring from a checklist of requirements. ‘Instead of requiring three years of C++ and one year of Java, look at the big picture. A programmer who has worked mostly in an older language but has recently added a new language to his certifications may be the perfect fit, since his years of experience give him a great foundation in other areas of programming,’ says Rampton. This is why, as a developer, you want to be continually upskilling via self-learning or online bootcamps.

3. No emotional attachment to code

Good programmers don’t hang onto their code at all costs – they keep what’s useful and throw away code that no longer serves its function. They are happy to throw out their own work and adopt another programmer’s code if it does the job better. Good coders refer to ‘the code’ rather than ‘my code’.

4. Various personality characteristics

Think about it – you need a very different personality to work in sales than to code. So, what characteristics exemplify the good programmer? Here are a few: patience and concentration (you’re not easily distracted and you’re patient when you get stuck), you’re a perfectionist, you display the ability to endure failure (many people fear failure; excellent programmers are excited by failure), you have a willingness to learn as well as an ability to endure stress, and of course you possess passion for improving and designing software systems.

5. Appetite for learning

A good coder is hungry for knowledge. They read and research a lot. According to the 2018 Stack Overflow Developer Report, over 80% of developers say they code as a hobby.

Besides engaging in frequent coding, developers like to upskill. Although bootcamps are seen as a way for people new to the industry to gain entry in a short period of time, they are also very appealing for those already in the industry: almost 50% of those surveyed who attended a coding bootcamp already had jobs as developers. Their reasons for enrolling on a bootcamp included the desire to learn new areas of technology and to update their current skills. About 82% of respondents who attended a bootcamp found work within six months of finishing their course.

In conclusion, these five factors are a good way for Sarah to assess whether she’s a good coder. Although experience and knowledge obviously count a great deal when it comes to one’s proficiency as a coder, these are not the only criteria. Attitude, personality characteristics and desire to embark on a lifelong coding journey contribute just as much. If you’re interested in finding out more about HyperionDev’s mentor-led online coding bootcamps, check out the courses here.