What Is a Coder?

You asked, we answered! What exactly is a coder?

Code is the building block of all technical applications we use every day. iOS software, smartphone applications, video game design, flat screen televisions, microwave function — yep, all built by a coder.

But what is a coder? And you’ve probably heard of computer programming, is it the same as coding? What’s the difference between coding and programming?

In this article, learn what a coder is, how coding compares to programming, and how to become a coder. Welcome to our coding rundown!

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What Is a Coder?

A coder is a person who writes code. 👩🏾‍💻

If that sounds overly simple, your intuition is correct. Coding and coder are broad terms used in the tech world that encompasses a range of disciplines that I’ll expand upon later.

Coders use coding and programming languages to perform a specific function.

Coders use a multitude of coding languages, including:

That all said, if you’ve used CSS to change the color or font on your WordPress site or used HTML to format a blog, you are a coder. Congratulations! 🥳
 

💡What is coding? Coding is the process of using programming languages to tell a computer what to do. A programming language is a set of grammatical and vocabulary rules that communicate a message to a computer.

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What Is a Programmer?

woman typing on laptop with two computer monitors in the backgroundWait, there’s a difference between coding and programming? If this is news to you, buckle up because there is more information in store!

We can’t completely explain what a coder is without addressing what a programmer is.

In layman’s terms, a programmer is a person who writes computer software. However, as you can imagine, computer programming is a bit more nuanced.

Computer programmers write and test instructions for a computer, software program or application to perform. Operating systems (e.g. iOS, Microsoft Windows, and Android) are an example of a computer program written by programmers.

Programmers typically have a broad coding background, with knowledge of and experience using various programming languages, including but not limited to:

So computer programmers tell computers what to do. What does that look like in practice?

Programmers use a general development cycle:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Analyze problem
  3. Design computer program
  4. Code computer program
  5. Test and debug program
  6. Maintain the program

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Coder vs. Programmer – What is the Difference?

We defined coder and programmer. Now for the million dollar question: what’s the difference between a coder and programmer? You’re not the only one who’s pondered this very question.

Simply put, programmers conceptualize and develop a framework of decisions for an application. A coder will primarily execute the plan.
 

💡 Think of it this way: An architect (i.e. programmers) creates the blueprint for a building. Contractors (i.e. coders) will execute the plan.

 

Coder Programmer
  • Writes code in programming languages for computers and humans
  • Works on tasks that contribute to a larger project
  • Primarily uses a text editor
  • Does not require advanced knowledge
  • Creates and develops a machine program to fulfill a desired goal
  • Focuses on the “big picture”
  • Tools include code generators, testing frameworks, program analysis tools, and modeling frameworks
  • Needs a higher level of expertise to succeed in profession

Coding is an invaluable portion in the building of a tech application, but as you’ll see in the next section, you will rarely find a job description for a “coder” position.

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Common Coder Jobs in Tech

Before we break down a few common coding jobs, we must address the elephant in the room: you will rarely see job descriptions for “Professional Coders.” Why? The term “coder” refers to someone who codes… that’s all. A web developer codes and, therefore, is a coder… the same can be said for web designers, software engineers, software developers, and the list goes on.

It’s not impossible to find “Professional Coder” jobs on your favorite job search engine; however, you’re more likely to run into “medical coder” positions, which is not the same as a tech coder.

Don’t despair, though. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that computer and information technology occupations (including coders!) are projected to grow 15% between 2021 and 2031.

With that being said, here are a few coding jobs.

Front end developer

A front end developer is a tech professional that builds the user-facing, visual aspects of a website. Anything you can see on a website is probably built by a front end developer — web pages, menus, forms, buttons, etc.

Front end developers primarily use three coding languages to perform their job:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript

Back end developer

Back end developers are web developers that work on the “unseen” portion of a website. These web developers are responsible for building and maintaining the functionality of a website. In other words, a front end developer may design the button but a back end developer will code the action performed when the button is clicked.

Back end developer use a variety of programming languages to make tech applications usable:

Full stack developer

Full stack developers are the ultimate, well-rounded web developers. These developers perform both front end and back end developer duties. Full stack developers work in large technology companies, hospitals, startups, nonprofits, and everything in between. The workload split between front end and back end duties are wholly dependent on the employer, project, and resources.

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How to Become a Coder

Do you need a computer science degree to be a coder?

No, you do not need a computer science or data science degree to be a coder or programmer. In fact, you can learn to code from the comfort of your home. 👀 I’ll tell you how soon, just keep reading.

What are the top coding skills?

The skills you need to become a coder are broken down into two categories: hard skills and soft skills. Both types of skills are important to work efficiently and effectively as well as reach higher levels of employment.
To perform a coding job, you must have hard skills. These skills will vary by coding job, so familiarize yourself with your dream job’s knowledge requirements.

Hard Coding Skills:

Yes, it is vital you understand technical coder skills, but often coders work in teams under time restraints. For this reason, it is vital that you also develop your coding soft skills.

Soft Coding Skills:

  • Problem solving
  • Written and verbal communication
  • Time management
  • Teamwork
  • Creativity

You can’t have one set of skills without the other. A well-rounded coder has the technical skill range to work on a wide variety of projects and the interpersonal skills to work efficiently with a team of developers, designers, engineers, and more.

How do I learn to code?

I don’t need a computer science degree to become a coder. So how do I learn to code?

Great question! If you want to learn to code for a passion project, there are plenty of free online courses, including our very own Camp Skillcrush. However, if your goal is to learn to code and become a programmer, consider attending a coding boot camp a.k.a. a coding school.

The Skillcrush Break Into Tech + Get Hired program is your one-stop shop for coding education. The program’s two tracks — web development and web design — immerses you in the tech world, with interactive lessons, project-based assignments, and a community of peers and teachers ready to support you. The program comes with a job guarantee! Get hired in six months or receive your money back.

Join the Skillcrush community and become a coder! 🙂

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Desiree Cunningham

Desiree Cunningham is an impassioned writer and editor and Senior Content Marketing Manager at Skillcrush. She has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications and a MA in English, both from Arizona State University. When she's not working with words, you can find her caring for her house plants, reading, or practicing Pilates.