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!

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