What is a Coder? [Everything You Need To Know]

Keelan Balderson
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Updated · Apr 19, 2023

Keelan Balderson

Journalist | Joined October 2021

A qualified journalist and longtime web content writer, Keelan has a passion for exploring informati... | See full bio


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A career in coding can be quite fulfilling and highly paid.

But what is a coder, what do they do each day, and what jobs include coding? 

Today we’ll explore how to get into the field and what it takes to succeed.

Let’s get to it!

What is a Coder?

“A coder” is a pretty broad term. It refers to a skilled professional who can work with one or more programming languages to develop computer applications and instructions for devices to complete tasks. 

Coders might sometimes fall under the title of computer programmer, software engineer, or other terms. However,  it all depends on how they’ve branched out their skills and qualifications. 

Humans converse to get things done. Buildings are developed from complex blueprints. Similarly, computers, mobile devices, and the software therein also need blueprints and languages to function. Without computer coders, the world would come to a standstill – it’s an important and ever-evolving job that’s increasing in demand.

Common programming languages include: 

  • C# 
  • Python 
  • Java 
  • PHP 
  • HTML 
  • And CSS

But there are many others. 

In the future, these languages may evolve into something entirely different.

A coder can specialize in one or several languages, and they may apply their knowledge to one type of technology or a wider range. While all coding is essentially based around computing, that doesn’t just mean your traditional desktop PC. Smartphones, cars, planes, security systems, and even your dishwasher require programming.

Coders make it all happen.

What Does a Coder Do?

Companies employ coders to aid the development of all types of applications and systems. 

But what does a coder do each day? 

Overall, they spend their time designing, writing, and testing software code. They also work alongside other developers, who have different overarching responsibilities. 

Writing Code

Day-to-day, coders sit at a desk physically typing out their code in the specified language, testing and refining things as they go. They may also maintain and fix a code after a product launch. It can be an intense and even repetitive process with long hours, though it can also be incredibly rewarding when goals are met.  


Coders will also attend meetings and liaise with project managers and adjacent team members. The software development lifecycle (SDLC) includes:

  • Planning 
  • Analysis
  • Design 
  • Implementation
  • Testing
  • Deployment
  • And maintenance

Coders are more involved in implementation and maintenance but will be privy to design and have a lesser role in testing.

Types of Coders

While coders will have a general set of skills and specialize in one or more coding languages, there are different types of coders or coding jobs that are common. Some of them also require extra skills.

Computer Programmer

A computer programmer produces new software, internet sites, and other apps. They also guarantee existing software works properly. 

Besides creating new code, programmers frequently upgrade and improve it for existing apps. A typical entry-level coding position under the computer programmer umbrella involves remote work.

Despite the position’s decline due to evolving needs, computer programmers are now overlapping with web and software developers.

Software Application Developer

Software developers are in charge of coding software, often involving the initial idea and design roles and testing and debugging after completion. 

Software is a broad field and can apply to programs for specific computer operating systems like Windows or the software found within appliances, cars, and other tech.

Mobile App Developer

A professional who creates and executes apps for mobile devices is known as a mobile app developer. 

Other job titles include mobile application developer or mobile application coder.

In order to create visually appealing, bug-free, and user-friendly apps, mobile app developers work closely with graphic designers, content writers, and code testers. Mobile coders may retain their position post-launch for ongoing maintenance, bug fixing, and updates. 

Video Game Developer

Creating the code for video games is an increasingly sought-after position. It can fall under small independent developers, big-budget console and PC releases, and mobile games. 

The role can involve areas of: 

  • Artificial intelligence 
  • Physics 
  • Simulation 
  • Computer graphics 
  • Audio programming 

And more.

Coders work closely with voice actors, software developers, graphic designers, and other creatives to bring video games to life.

Web Developer

Getting into coding often starts with web development and design. This includes languages like HTML, PHP, and CSS. Web coding is the backend that creates a website’s layout, structure, navigation, and features. 

Web developers might create and manage the entire website. Or they can develop a simpler interface so others can carry on the day-to-day operations without requiring much coding knowledge themselves.

Likewise, with the advent of content management systems like WordPress, web developers often work inside these platforms to create something unique for their clients.  

Those who specialize in the behind-the-scenes workings of a website – its performance, server-side functioning, and database management – are called backend developers. On the other hand, those working on the visible parts of a website are called frontend developers. This will include web design principles, or the coder will work alongside a web designer.

Computer Systems Analyst

Becoming a coder can lead to a computer systems analyst role. 

This professional evaluates the computer and IT systems used by a company and gives suggestions on how to upgrade or improve their efficiency. They frequently set up new system operations, assess new hardware or software requirements, and create remedies for system problems and inefficiencies. 

These IT specialists will have a background in information technology, coding, but also business.

Computer Systems Engineer

Computer systems engineers are experienced coders and software engineers who understand the needs of a business. Their key role is to create system administration solutions that improve functionality and end-user access. Moreover, they develop systems for an organization’s networks and apps, ensuring everything is streamlined and integrated.   

Network Systems Administrator

While coding only forms part of this role, network systems admins oversee an organization’s entire network, server setup, and associated intranet. 

They’re responsible for both the hardware and software, with coding coming into play in the latter. This role is integral for ensuring a company and its computer systems operate effectively. 

Database Administrator

Becoming a coder can also lead to database administration. This position requires creating and maintaining computer databases, so you’ll need to learn database languages like SQL, DDL, DML, or others. 

Tasks include updating, revising, and securing databases.

Data Scientist

A data scientist is an expert in coding but also statistics. They typically code algorithms and collect and process data, all for the purpose of analyzing and adding it to a body of research. 

The job often involves formulating a research question, conducting said research, and presenting the results. Positions span the public and private sectors.

Where Do Coders Work?

Since computers and their applications encompass every part of our lives, virtually all industries, government agencies, businesses, and charities are working with coders.

A software developer might work for a big name like Microsoft, but even a mom-and-pop store or the local school require technological systems and coders to create or maintain them.

All that said, coders typically work in an office environment or from home, with the bulk of their time spent writing code on a computer, maintaining hardware, or meeting with other team members to move a project forward.

How Much Do Coders Make?

Salaries and wages for coders vary greatly depending on the project or role, the individual’s experience and certifications, and the job location. 

Generally, full-time coders can expect to make near the average US income at the lower end of their pay scale. This is roughly between $50,000 and $60,000 per year. However, some coders can progress to double or more this amount.

According to Indeed.com, the average base salaries for some of the most common coding-related jobs in 2022 are as follows:

  • Entry Level Coding: $51,504
  • Programmer: $58,849
  • Software Developer/ Engineer: $127,306
  • Mobile App Developer: $122,920
  • Video Game Developer: $76,933
  • Standard Web Developer: $74,685
  • Frontend Developer: $102,576
  • Backend Developer: $116,024
  • Computer Systems Engineer: $51,493
  • Network Systems Administrator: $71,706
  • Database Administrator: $90,783
  • Data Scientist: $141,463

Note that not all coding jobs are salaried and are often paid by the hour.

How to Become a Coder?

There are many entry points and career paths if you want to become a coder. Coding is a combination of skills involving different programming languages and broader related qualities. 

Getting a coding job without a degree is common, but employers will still often look for some form of certification.

Formal Education

A common, though non-essential, route to the world of coding is a degree in computer science. This lays the foundation for understanding systems and shows employers a base level of aptitude. Some organizations will provide on-the-job training to those with formal computer-related qualifications.

However, individual coding certifications, coding bootcamps, and work experience placements can be enough to land a job.

Self-teaching and Bootcamps

Many coders are self-taught or take online courses, starting at freelance marketplaces and building a portfolio to demonstrate their skills. However, it’s important to check the reviews and real-world results from online courses. Many fly-by-night “learn to code” opportunities are overpriced and of poor quality.

Most reputable coding courses are called bootcamps and take only a few months if approached like full-time study.

Programming Languages

Languages are what working code is created with. Though endless languages and new ones are appearing regularly, the mainstays in 2022 are as follows:

  • Python – One of the easiest to learn and in high demand. It’s used by startups and corporate giants alike, particularly in financial services, AI, and web app development. Instagram was developed using Python.
  • JavaScript – Used in flashy interactive websites, including browser games and chat rooms, as well as mobile apps.
  • Java – Not to be confused with the above, Java is typically used in client-server applications in the backend of large businesses and organizations. 
  • C# – Microsoft’s improved “C” language. It’s used within mobile devices and for coding Windows apps and browser plugins. It has a steep learning curve but high reward. 
  • C – A tried and true coding language that forms a solid basis for branching out into other languages. It’s commonly used for database systems, OS development, word processors, etc.
  • C++ – An extension of “C” used for programming the systems that run apps rather than the apps themselves. 
  • PHP – Used at the backend of web development and a natural progression from basic HTML.
  • CSS – For coding the visual layouts of websites.
  • GO Google’s coding language for distributed system-level programming. Netflix, Twitch, and Uber use GO. 
  • R – Used primarily in machine learning applications and statistical analytics. 
  • Swift – Apple’s go-to language for coding apps for macOS and iOS devices.

Hard Skills

Getting into coding would also require many of the following hard skills in addition to common programming languages:

  • Understanding algorithms and data structures
  • Databases and SQL
  • Computer networking
  • Cloud computing
  • Web and Graphical User Interface (GUI) design principles
  • Content management systems
  • Containers
  • Git version control
  • Integrated development environments (IDEs)
  • Object-oriented programming (OOP)
  • Computer hardware
  • Excel and spreadsheets
  • PowerPoint and presentations

Soft Skills

The stereotype of a solitary coder working at their computer with little outside interaction probably has some merit. However, a coder needs various qualities to progress in their career.

  • Self-Motivation – Coding is indeed solitary, and there may not be a boss or colleague to check in with for days on end. Likewise, it can lack variety. Because of this, you’ll need to be a self-starter with a lot of self-motivation and time management skills.
  • Focus and Determination – Coding requires a lot of motivation and focus because the actual code writing can take up long periods of time. Not only that, but the speed at which one is expected to code can get quite intense in many fields.
  • Logic – While there can be creative aspects to coding, especially at the early stages of a project, the ability to think logically is a must. Systems and apps all follow a specific language rooted in math and science. You must follow the rules and solve problems within the coding framework.
  • Attention to Detail – Coders must be able to always pay close attention to their work to prevent errors and typos. One missed key can render a large chunk of code unusable, and it can often be difficult to go back and identify what went wrong.
  • Good Memory – Programming languages are essentially a series of keywords and symbols. To work at a good pace, coders need to memorize these languages, as well as the sequences required to produce certain results. The more you can rely on memory rather than checking a book or online guide, the more successful you’ll be.

Coder vs Programmer

Although many people use these terms interchangeably, there’s a difference between programming and coding

A basic coder definition is someone who translates human logic into machine language, i.e., code. It’s getting a computer to do what you tell it to by using the language it understands. Creating this code is “coding”.

If a distinction is to be made, it’s that coding can simply refer to the process of writing lines of code. It doesn’t necessarily have to have an end goal. 

Programming is broader and refers to the entirety of a project. It can include research, planning, problem-solving, development, and so on. In this context, coding is a subsect of programming.

Likewise, we can say that newcomers start out learning to code and, over time, become professional programmers.

That being said, most people outside of academia don’t differentiate coder vs programmer.

Wrap Up

Coding is a high-demand and well-paid career with relatively easy entry for those with the right skills. Coders work in all manner of industries and company sizes and can progress and transfer into many roles. 


How long does it take to become a coder?

The time it takes to become a coder depends on the coding language, the number of languages being studied, and the learning method. However, your average coding bootcamp takes between three and six months.

How to get a job as a coder?

To get a job as a coder, one must learn one or several coding languages, put together a portfolio of work, and typically take freelancing gigs and internships. Coding doesn’t require a degree and can be self-taught or learned via short “bootcamp” courses.

What is a coder job?

What is a coder job, and what defines a coding position? It’s essentially any long-term or temporary role that requires you to write code as part of a new project or ongoing maintenance of a system or application.

How to be a coder?

To be a coder, one must be well-versed in at least one coding language and be able to generate code to meet a solution. A professional coder is someone who has experience or employment performing coding as a part of paid work.


Keelan Balderson

Keelan Balderson

A qualified journalist and longtime web content writer, Keelan has a passion for exploring information and learning new things. If he's not writing or pushing his own brands, you'll find him watching pro wrestling or trying not to rant about politics online.

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