5 Ways to Improve Your Programming Skills No Matter How Talented You Already Are

 Whether you’ve been coding for five months or 15 years, one thing remains true about programming: There’s always room for improvement.

That’s both the challenge and the thrill of programming. There’s always something new to learn, and you can always get better—whether by learning an entirely new language or improving your skillset in the one(s) you already use.

Not only can you continuously improve your skills, but you must do so if you want to remain competitive. While demand for developer talent still outstrips supply, it’s also true that more and more people are starting to move into programming, making it essential to stay on top of your game. The following five strategies will enable you to do just that.

How to Up Your Programming Game

Write Code Every Day

When it comes to coding, there’s simply no substitute for experience. That’s why it’s critical for anyone who’s looking to expand their programming skill set to commit to coding every day. Be willing to tackle both large and small projects, address potentially frustrating problems, and see projects through to fruition. Even if you aren’t getting paid to code these projects, investing time into them is well worth it for the skills you’ll develop.

Collaborate With Other Programmers

No two coders have exactly the same skillset and experience, so collaborating with other programmers is a great way to expose yourself to new ideas, skills, and problem-solving approaches. There are a number of ways to work with other programmers: You might get involved in a forum and propose creating a group project, find a coworker who wants to spend time coding with you on evenings or weekends, contribute to an open source project, or find a mentor who will oversee your side projects.

No matter how you go about it, reading other people’s code, writing code in collaboration with others, and soliciting other programmers’ feedback on your work is a great way to push yourself beyond your coding comfort zone.

Fix Every Bug You Find

This might sound like a daunting proposition, but it’s an exceptional way to improve your problem-solving skills and coding experience. Mine your past projects, current work, and/or open source projects for bugs and then challenge yourself to fix them. Each time you’re successful, take the time to learn from the experience by considering why the bug happened in the first place, how it could have been prevented, and if there might be a faster way to fix said bug in the future.

Learn a New Language

Even if you love, say, Java and only plan to work with Java for the rest of your career, it’s still worth learning the basics of other programming languages. Why? Because it exposes you to new coding approaches, provides you with a comparative perspective on your language of choice, and requires you to flex your creative muscles. These factors translate into more flexible and creative thinking in your regular coding endeavors.

Whether you’re looking to learn Swift, Ruby, C++, or another language, there are tons of great resources available for all skill levels.

Take a Course

If you have the financial wherewithal, taking a course is a no-brainer way to up your coding game. There’s no shortage of skills courses on the market these days, so you can pick and choose based on your desired outcome: Do you want to gain a specific new skill(s) in a language with which you’re already familiar? Do you want to learn a particular aspect of a language that’s relatively new to you? Do you need a specific certification before you can apply for your dream job? Then taking a course can be a great way to learn new skills in an organized, supportive environment. Not sure where to start? Check out any of these stellar coding bootcamps.

No matter your programming experience, these strategies will help you learn new skills and enhance the ones you already have. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to apply for your dream job with Ruby, Java, or the language of your choosing.

Whenever you’re ready to apply, head on over to our jobs page, where we help developers find new jobs every day.


Alyssa Mazzina
Content Writer, Developer Marketing
Alyssa is a Content Writer at Stack Overflow where she writes for the Code for a Living blog, helping developers make the most of their careers. She lives in California, in a house filled with kids and dogs.

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  • Mark Cupito

    This article has good information for a bullet-point list, but it would have been 100000x more valuable if you guys’ interviewed some of your own developers or perhaps a Technical Lead at SO to identify some valuable traits they picked up along the way, what resources/blogs they go to, what standards they hold themselves to, and how they were able to get to that ‘next level’ in their careers. For example, some of the developers at SO wrote very popular, heavily used libraries in the .NET community (Dapper, StackExchange.Redis) – they would certainly be good candidates for this kind of thing. Just a thought; again, I appreciate the blog post, but think it could have better and more applicable information.

    • Alyssa Mazzina

      Thanks, Mark! You’re absolutely right: our developers have a ton of insight and experience to offer, and we do get their input as often as possible on our blog content. You’re right, many of them no doubt have lots to say about this topic. I’m going to plan on a follow-up to this article soon, and I’ll bring in some of our developers for a more in-depth look at the topic.

  • Jodan VJ

    I loved it great work

  • Nick H

    An article by a non programmer giving advice to programmers about how to be better programmers.

    Tomorrow: a journalist giving advice to neurosurgeons about how to become better neurosurgeons.

    • Ugur Mahir Özkaya

      you must be fun at parties

      • Lucifer Morningstar

        Ugru or whatever the hell your name is, you dumbass.

  • cliche

  • Saif

    If i want to code and take a course for it but do not have well financial condition so what online sources i can take online for free

    • Tanish

      Try the channel ‘thenewboston’ on YouTube.

    • Hoxtygen

      try freecodecamp.com and/or codecademy.com

  • shashankgurudu

    Could you recheck the question link you posted for collobarating with other programmers. It doesn’t seem to be of any help here.

  • cdtavijit

    If we posted this in Stackoverflow forum, it would be closed as “too broad” and will be hammered for not having “this is what I did” part.