With the growing demand for digital products and services, coding and programming continue to be excellent career choices in which the job prospects look promising for the foreseeable future. 

This alone is exciting, but coding can give you so much more. It can give you the chance to work on projects, either for businesses or governments, that will have a significant impact on other people’s lives, hopefully improving them significantly. 

In addition, most coders can work from anywhere, which means this profession allows you to move around and enjoy all the freedom and flexibility that comes with working from home full-time. 

If you’re living in California, it’s completely understandable why coding might be calling you; the state, led by Silicon Valley, is known worldwide for its tech presence. But if you’ve ever wondered what you need to do to take make this move and become a coder, here are all the steps involved:

Get the Proper Set Up to Become Coder

To be able to become a coder, you are going to need to practice, a lot. And this means you need to have a workstation set up at home that allows you to easily practice coding, develop your own side projects, and then eventually do work for clients who pay you money. 

As a result, the first thing you’ll need if you want to be a coder is a computer that’s up to the task. When shopping for a computer for coding, there are a lot of things you should be looking for, but you really just want to make sure your device has the processor speed and memory to handle more data-heavy projects. Your specific needs, though, will depend on what it is you will be coding.

You’ll also want to make sure you have the best internet connection you can get. This will make it easier to collaborate and communicate with other developers, as well as test your work, all of which is important to you becoming a successful coder.

Learn How to Code

Once you’ve got yourself the proper setup for coding, it’s time to launch into what will be the long, arduous task of learning how to code. It’s, of course, not impossible, but we don’t want to gloss over the fact that there is a lot of hard work and dedication involved in learning this skill well enough to become a professional. 

In addition, before you begin this process, and as you move through it, keep the following things in mind.

Decide What You Want to Code

The first thing you’ll want to ask yourself is what it is you want to code. Apps? Websites? Games?  Making this choice will help you decide which languages will be the most practical for you to learn, but it will also help you supplement your studies. This is because being able to code is just part of being a good coder. 

You also need to understand what’s going on in your industry, i.e. what’s being done well, what could be done better, what is missing, etc. It requires an intuition that is difficult to acquire.

Knowing what you want to code will make sure you learn the right skills but also immerse yourself in your corner of the market so that you can become an even better coder.

Of course, it’s totally natural if you don’t know what you want to do right at the start. But consider the different options and try a few things out so that you can arrive at this decision early on in your education.

Go to School or Self-Teach?

Another thing you will need to decide is whether or not you want to enroll in a coding course or try to teach yourself. There is no better way to do it, although some 87 percent of coders surveyed by Stack Overflow said they have taught themselves a new coding skill without enrolling in any sort of course. 

If you’re particularly disciplined or already have a background in coding and feel comfortable with it, this may be the route for you to go. It will certainly be cheaper!

However, know that in the beginning, you may benefit significantly from working in a formal learning environment. 

It will give you guidance and structure, as well as afford you the opportunity to collaborate with others learning to code, which is something you will find incredibly useful in your career. If you do decide to go this route, consider yourself lucky to be a California resident; there are tons of great schools ready to teach you.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Lastly, we just want to reiterate that learning to code is going to require a good bit of work. Just like learning any other language, there is a big learning curve, and there are a lot of variables at work that make it hard to get really good. However, if you stay consistent in your practice and work hard, you will learn and be ready to start serving as a professional coder.

Find Clients and Make Money

Once you’ve learned enough coding and feel confident you’re fluent, it’s time to head out and make a living. Freelancer sites like UpWork and Fiverr can be great places to start, as well as other well-known job boards. Even Craigslist can produce results. 

But beyond where to look, there are some other things you need to do to ensure you get a job using your newly-learned skill.

Build a Portfolio

To win clients, you need to show to them what you can do, and the way you’re going to do this is with your portfolio. Usually, you fill this out with things you’ve done for past clients, but when you’re just starting out, obviously you’re not going to have much of this. 

So, put together stuff you’ve done during school and while learning; this is why it’s so important to always be practicing and working on something on the side. At the very least, it can go into your portfolio and serve as a good representation of your skills that will help you land a job.

Take Small Jobs in the Beginning

When you’re first starting out, prepare to have to work extra hard for work, and also to be passed over for the best projects. This isn’t because you’re not good but because you’re unproven. After you’ve built up a strong portfolio, winning these jobs will become easier.

In the meantime, though, don’t shy away from any job, and when you do get one, treat it as though it was your dream project. 

Pay close attention to detail, work hard to please the client, and make yourself extra available. This will get old quickly on your end, but it’s absolutely critical for you to generate a bit of an image for your work and present yourself as the ideal candidate for more advanced, better-paying jobs.

Start Your Coding Career

All in all, getting started as a coder in California isn’t all that much different than getting started anywhere else. However, with so much of California’s economy belonging to the tech sector, there are certainly a lot of opportunities. If this appeals to you, now you have all the information you need to become a coder and get your coding career off and running.

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