Programming is the foundation of modern technology. Having programming skills allows you to create software, applications, and systems that you interact with. It also opens up career paths in web development, cyber security, data science, and more.

In this guide, we'll break down the basics of programming. We'll walk you through the most used types of programming languages, the most common programming career paths, and learning options for programming.

What is Programming?

Programming is the systematic art of instructing machines and computers to perform tasks. It is the basic building block behind creating software, applications, and intricate systems in our digital landscape.

At its core, programming involves formulating precise sets of instructions—coded in various languages—that let machines execute specific functions and automate processes.

Here are some of the examples:

  • The programming behind a social media platform lets users connect, share content, and interact with features such as status updates, photo uploads, comments, and messages.

  • Programming in online shopping experiences allows for product displays, secure payment gateways, personalized recommendations, and smooth checkout processes.

  • Streaming services use programming to deliver content, recommendations, and user preferences, which allows seamless access to movies, TV shows, and music.

Here's a video that will help you understand programming more: What is Programming?

Programming vs Coding

Before anything else, let's dive into the difference between programming and coding.


Programming involves the entire process of creating instructions for computers to perform specific tasks. Often, the process encompasses various stages, such as problem-solving, algorithm design, and utilizing a programming language.

The first programmer was Ada Lovelace, an English mathematician and writer. She developed the algorithm for Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer—the Analytical Engine.

What does a programmer do? According to CareerExplorer, programmers "are responsible for writing code, testing it, and fixing any errors or bugs that occur during the testing process." They collaborate with project managers, software developers and stakeholders to ensure the product meets client requirements.


Code refers to the written instructions that a computer can understand and execute.

Coding is a subset of programming that deals with writing code.

When a programmer is coding, he writes lines of code to create a set of instructions that the computer can understand and execute. Coding enables the practical implementation of a programmer's solution into a computer-readable language.

Most Used Programming Languages

According to Statista, the most used programming languages include the following:

  • JavaScript - 63.61%
  • HTML / CSS - 52.97%
  • Python - 49.28%
  • SQL - 48.66%
  • TypeScript - 38.87%

Here's what you need to know about each programming language:

  • JavaScript: Primarily used for web development, JavaScript is the backbone of most modern websites. It is essential for building interactive websites, and it also supports server-side development (Node.js) and mobile app development (React Native).

  • HTML / CSS: HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are foundational languages for building and designing web pages. When combined with HTML, CSS creates visually appealing and structured web pages. HTML defines the content and structure, while CSS controls the presentation and styling to create beautiful websites.

  • Python: Python is an object-oriented programming language known for its readability and versatility. It is commonly used in various fields, such as web development, data analysis, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation.

  • SQL: SQL (Structured Query Language) is a specialized programming language for managing and manipulating data stored in relational databases. It is the standard language for interacting with relational database management systems (RDBMS), allowing users to update and retrieve data.

  • TypeScript is a free and open-source programming language developed by Microsoft. It extends JavaScript by adding syntax for types. Designed to address some of the shortcomings of JavaScript, it is used in large-scale application development.

Types of Programming Languages

There are numerous programming languages used across the world, but there are five main categories:

Procedural Programming Languages

Procedural programming languages break down a program into steps to solve problems. It uses a straightforward, step-by-step approach to execute instructions and manipulate data.

This style of programming uses functions or procedures. It applies structured programming techniques like functions, loops, and conditional statements to achieve computational tasks efficiently.

Examples of procedural languages include:

  • C and C++
  • Java
  • Pascal

Functional programming

Functional programming revolves around the application and evaluation of mathematical functions.

Unlike traditional imperative programming, where the emphasis is on executing sequences of statements, functional programming uses functions without altering the state or data. Each part performs tasks to generate a specific result.

Examples of functional programming include:

  • Elixir
  • Erlang
  • F#
  • Haskell
  • Scala

Object-Oriented Programming Languages

Object-oriented programming involves organizing software structures using objects which encapsulate data and behaviours. It revolves around things that contain both data and program elements—otherwise known as methods and attributes. OOP promotes the creation of reusable and modular code suitable for complex programs and large-scale projects.

Examples of object-oriented programming languages include:

  • C++
  • Java
  • Python

Scripting Languages

Scripting languages are used for scripting purposes and rapid application development. They're used to automate repetitive tasks, prototype, and support large-scale processes.

Examples of scripting languages include:

  • JavaScript
  • Python
  • Ruby

Logic Programming Languages

Logic programming languages are built on the foundation of formal logic. It is used to solve problems with rules and facts. Rather than instructing a computer to execute a program, logic programming involves telling a computer what needs to be done so it can solve problems logically.

Examples of logic programming languages include:

  • Absys
  • Alma-0
  • Datalog
  • Prolog

Navigating the Programming Career Path

Becoming a programmer opens up a career path with an exciting and diverse range of opportunities. As technology drives innovation across industries, the demand for skilled programmers remains high. If you're looking to embark on this dynamic career journey, here's an exploration of the job responsibilities at each level.

1. Junior Programmer (Entry Level)

The journey of a programmer typically commences at the junior level. At this stage, individuals start delving into foundational programming tasks and learning the basics of software development.

Junior programmers contribute to coding, debugging, and software maintenance. They collaborate closely with senior team members to understand project requirements and assist in code development.

Average Salary: Approximately $54,000 to $73,000 per year

Job Responsibilities:

  • Writing and debugging code for software applications or systems.
  • Assisting in software development tasks and basic troubleshooting.
  • Collaborating with team members to understand project requirements and contribute to coding efforts.
  • Supporting senior programmers in coding tasks and contributing to software development initiatives.

2. Software Developer (Mid-Level)

At this mid-level stage, professionals move beyond foundational tasks and take on more responsibilities in software development. They delve into advanced coding, design, and system architecture, playing a crucial role in the creation and maintenance of software applications or systems.

Average Salary: Around $70,000 - $111,000 per year

Job Responsibilities:

  • Designing, coding, and testing software applications or modules.
  • Engaging in more complex problem-solving and system architecture.
  • Contributing to larger-scale projects, employing specific programming languages and frameworks.
  • Collaborating with teams to execute and maintain software solutions.

3. Senior Level / Lead Programmer

As professionals progress to a senior-level programming role, they take on more strategic and leadership-focused responsibilities. Senior programmers assume a guiding role, overseeing development projects and providing technical direction. They demonstrate extensive expertise in coding, architecture, and project management, often leading teams and driving innovation within the software development process.

Average Salary: Ranges from $87,000 to $161,000 per year

Job Responsibilities:

  • Leading teams and managing complex software development projects.
  • Providing technical guidance, setting architectural direction, and mentoring junior team members.
  • Innovating and implementing new technologies or methodologies within the development process.
  • Overseeing the entire software development lifecycle, from planning to execution.

How to Get Started in Programming

There are multiple pathways for individuals looking to dive into coding and programming. Here are some to consider:


Self-study is a flexible and self-paced option. This approach allows individuals to grasp programming fundamentals conveniently based on personal interests or career goals. Here's our list of online resources where you can start your coding journey.


University education in computer science provides a structured pathway for coding and programming. Universities offer comprehensive programs with a solid foundation in programming languages, algorithms, data structures, and software development methodologies.


Lighthouse Labs offers bootcamps tailored to suit various learning preferences. Our web development curriculum caters to aspiring developers at different stages of their learning journey.

For those starting from scratch or seeking a more structured foundation, we offer introductory courses such as "Intro to Web Development" and "Intro to Front-End with Javascript."

This specialized program concentrates on equipping users with fundamental programming skills. Depending on your availability or learning style, Lighthouse Labs offers both part-time and full-time options for bootcamps.

Whether you opt for self-study materials, pursue a traditional university education, or prefer an immersive bootcamp experience, there are many ways you can jumpstart your career as a professional programmer.