When Can You Consider Yourself A Programmer?

So, when can you truly consider yourself a programmer? Honestly, it’s a tough question to answer! There is no one moment you “become a programmer”. It is a process of learning, trial and error, and eventually becoming proficient in your craft.

However, I understand that imposter syndrome is real – I had it too! Especially being a self-taught developer with no professional experience [although I have a lot now].

For that reason, I wanted to write an article sharing my experience. When is it normal to start calling yourself a programmer?

Let’s find out.

1. There Are No Rules, Anyone Can Call Themselves A Developer

The first thing you should know is that basically anyone can call themselves a developer. Did you create a program to print “Hello World” on your computer screen? Congratulations, you can call yourself a programmer, and (probably) no one will really care.

There may be follow-up questions, and you may not land that job, but no one will stop you from saying it. There are no gatekeepers like there are when becoming a lawyer, doctor, or police officer.

Impersonate a developer, make money; impersonate a police officer, go to jail.


2. When You Code Something Useful

Personally, I started believing I was a programmer when I could code something useful.

I remember back when I was a student, I had a part-time social marketing job. My boss wanted me to go through all the user profiles that liked our posts and invite them to like the page.

Obviously, this was a very tedious process and I knew that I didn’t want to waste the time in my day doing it manually.

So I wrote some JavaScript code that would check if anyone new liked a post on the page and invited them to follow the page. All I had to do was open the Facebook admin page [which also could have been automated] and run the script in the console.

After that first project, I realized that I could automate a lot of processes. For instance, I created a bot that would go into my tinder account and auto-like users for me [it still works too!]. Then a chrome extension that would like people’s posts on Instagram.

You get the idea.

Once I started creating projects that were useful or cool without needing a tutorial I started feeling like a real programmer. Even if they were simple script-kiddy code snippets.

It didn’t matter that the projects were pretty basic. It did matter, however, that I could think of an idea and implement it in code.

As I continued to code, I grew and learned. Even though the code I wrote was pretty poorly written at the time, I would still consider myself a coder at that point in time.

Once you get to a level where you can write your own coding projects, you are a programmer in my eyes.

3. Your First Professional Job

For some people, these small coding projects just are not enough. In order to consider yourself a programmer, you need to be working in the industry.

Honestly, this opinion makes a lot of sense. If you work professionally as a developer, you probably have a good foundation in the basics and probably data structures and algorithms too.

Not to mention you are now coding for around 8 hours every day and improving. A difficult thing to do if coding is just a hobby.

Not to mention it would be a bit weird if someone asked you, “what do you do?” and you responded “I’m a programmer!” without having a coding job.

Summary: When Can You Consider Yourself a Programmer?

Realistically, no one is stopping you from calling yourself a programmer no matter your skill level. However, most people agree that you only become a programmer once you can build something useful without a tutorial or work professionally.

If either of those things applies to you, congrats! You truly are a programmer. A good programmer? Who knows; but a programmer nonetheless.

New to development and want to learn how to code? Check out this best-selling course to get started!

Grant Darling

Grant is a full-stack / frontend software developer passionate about writing & coding. He has many years experience working in the tech industry both as a freelancer and as an employee.

The Code Bytes is all about providing people with honest information about programming. To learn more about Grant, read his about page!

If you’re interested in freelance coding / writing services or want to partner with The Code Bytes, you can get in touch with me here!