Programming Doesn’t Require Talent or Even Passion

I’m certain you will get plenty of attention with such a controversial title. Here are my thoughts on the subject.

I have worked as a programmer and taught IT at the college level for two decades. Not everyone can be a programmer, as the students that failed my courses learned. I am not surprised at the quotes from famous programmers. Programmers are for the most part a quiet, self-effacing bunch so you are not going to hear many of them bragging about how good they are or think they are.

I once interviewed for a database developer position with a start-up company. The guy interviewing me said he wanted a database “artist”. I politely declined pursuing the position any further, because programming is a craft, not an art.

There are sloppy plumbers and neat, careful plumbers. If neither’s work leaks and passes inspection then many — especially those that know nothing about plumbing — would not know or care about the difference. I have had to rewrite plenty of sloppy code over the years, and I am certain that others have taken exception to some of my offerings.

So no, you do not necessarily need to be passionate to be a programmer. You can view it as just a paycheque. I disagree with your second point. You do need certain talents to succeed as a programmer — math and logic skills as others have mentioned, for example. That being said, talent without training and practice is not enough. There is no magic wand that allows you to suddenly start writing code.

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