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Build essential coding skills needed for front-end and back-end web development, machine learning, iOS and Android app development, and much more. Learn coding and take computer programming classes online through edX.

What is computer programming?

Computer programming is the process of writing instructions that are to be executed by computers. These written instructions are often called “code,” as they are written in one of several special programming languages which the computer can understand. Those who can write instructions in one of these codes are called coders, or programmers.  

A programmer’s tasks include understanding project requirements, determining the right programming language to use, designing the solution, coding it, testing and debugging the code, and finally writing documentation that allows their solution to be easily understood by other programmers.

Computer programming is at the heart of computer science and is the implementation portion of software development, application development, and software engineering efforts. It transforms ideas and theories into working solutions.

Basic computer programming involves analyzing a problem and developing a logical sequence of instructions to solve it. There can be numerous paths to a solution, but some are much faster than others. That is why the computer programmer seeks to design the most efficient code. 

Computer Programming | Introduction Text

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Computer programming course curriculum

First time codes can begin their educational journey by studying computer programming basics with introductory computer programming classes. These foundational computer programming courses may provide step-by-step tutorials on how to code with a given language. Introductory computer programming training will also explain algorithmic thinking and basic concepts in abstraction, data structures, and resource management.

You’ll also learn coding languages such as HTML and CSS – two basic languages used for the web. A software development class may teach the “C” family of languages while a data science course would be more likely to focus on Python or SQL. 

Part of learning computer programming is discovering the similarities and differences between different languages while gaining an understanding of which language is the right one for a particular task. Problem sets can be inspired by real-world challenges in fields like biology, finance, and politics.

Computer programming jobs

People who wish to enter the world of computer programming can choose to specialize in any number of popular programming languages. The type of language you choose and how you implement it may help determine the kind of entry level computer programmer jobs for which you’ll be qualified, and your first job will often guide your career path. However, there is some flexibility when matching jobs with programming languages, and many entry level computer programmer jobs would prefer you to know a handful of the most popular coding languages. 

If you’re interested in becoming a computer programmer or software engineer, it can be valuable to code in as many different languages as you can.

Some careers in computer programming include:

●      Web developer

●      Computer programmer

●      Software developer

●      Back-end developer

●      Front-end developer

●      Full-stack developer

●      Database administrator

Take a beginner course in computer science or any number of programming languages and see if this exciting field is right for you. Many introductory, self-paced courses are available to help you learn to code in many different languages. edX offers a variety of learning paths that can fit your needs and schedule, including boot camps, online bachelor’s degree programs, and online master's degree programs. 

How to become a computer programmer online 

There are many ways to learn computer programming online, but almost all paths require you to start with the basics.Footnote 1 A grounding in math and the sciences can benefit you in your coding career. 

First time coders can learn how to code with hands-on coding boot camp. Learners can then study more advanced concepts by pursuing an online bachelor's in computer science or a master's in data science or a similar field.

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