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An Ideal Programmer

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Ed Tittel, creator of the Exam Cram series, considers the qualifications that make for the best prospective programming candidates. If you're looking to be hired or to move up in this field, you need to be aware of these 'wish list' items and work to include them in your skill set.
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Aspiring or active IT professionals who work as programmers can benefit from an improved understanding of what current and prospective employers want from people who are interested in this type of work. Programmers need complete and thorough knowledge of at least one or more major programming and scripting languages. An understanding of programming principles, along with knowledge of the ins and outs of software production, is also a must. In this article, we'll look at the relevant certifications, technical skills and knowledge, and subject matter expertise that are of greatest interest to employers today.

The 'Must Have' List: Essential Qualifications

Programmers have come a long way since the stereotype of "geeks" with pocket protectors and slide rules first appeared on the technology scene. You should know that we use the term "geek" with the utmost respect, because rumor has it that "the geeks shall inherit the earth"! That may be a paraphrase from another quote, but one thing is certain: The code that programmers write not only has changed the face of technology, but the way we communicate, conduct business, access information, manage our healthcare, and much more. Computer programmers (also known as software developers) are the cornerstone of the software technology revolution. Programmers provide the foundation on which all computing technology is built. In essence, without the skills of the programmer, the software industry couldn't exist; we'd still be using manual typewriters and carbon paper to make copies, and a simple transfer of documents might take weeks instead of seconds.

Obviously, programmers—particularly good programmers—are some real must-have IT professionals. So what does an employer look for when selecting a programmer? In a perfect world, an ideal programmer has the appropriate knowledge and skills in all of the following areas to meet the prospective employer's specifications:

  • Programming languages
  • Scripting languages
  • Programming principles
  • Production principles
  • Web applications
  • Education and experience
  • Personal skills

The following sections consider each of these areas in detail, discussing the specific languages and principles that are likely to be most desirable to today's businesses.

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