Cover image for Can anyone become a developer?

Can anyone become a developer?

kethmars profile image kethmars ・1 min read

A couple of days ago I made a comment in Youtube referring that anyone can become a developer. My thought was tested by another user, who claimed that you also need talent. Otherwise, everyone would be working as a developer, making 100k per year.

I believe talent does help in learning things faster and achieve the very top of any field. But I also believe that everything can be learned if you:

  • have a strong "why"
  • the correct resources for learning(based on the individual)
  • dedication

In my view, it doesn't matter how good you're in maths, logical thinking, communication etc. It does help, but if you want it and put in the hours, you'll get there.

It applies not only to programming but also other activities in life like singing, learning an instrument, sports, stock trading etc.

What do you believe? Can anyone become a developer?


markdown guide

That reminds me of a great quote from the movie Ratatouille



Totally agree with this. I think it also applies in becoming a developer.


That's beautiful :)!


Yes, anyone could become a developer, but he will spend a very miserable life if he wouldn't love his work. I always say that if you don't have some kind of spark inside you, the work as developer is really the hell.


'He' will, probably. 'He' is the standard, after all. It is 'his' work ... poor 'he'.


I'm not a native English speaker. Neologism like "xe" sounds really bizarre and stupid to my ears. Using "it" seems equally bad. Using "she" is unnatural for me because, curse me, I'm a male.
An example of how I should rephrase is really appreciated 🙂

It has become good practice to use 'they' when talking about people in general. So if anyone can do something, they can do it and it is their opportunity to do it.
This may seem like a detail, or nit picking, but what if you would read a text like:
"In the world of tech, developments go fast. Anyone who wants to work there, has to up her game. She will have to work hard to keep her knowledge and her skills relevant, and she will have to invest her time in that". Sounds very different, doesn't it? If you think about how this changes the impression of the audience it is directed at, maybe it means that one half of the audience thinks it is not directed at them.
The national broadcaster in my country has started to look for spokespersons who are female when it comes to interviews for items about government policy, economics, tech, agriculture, whatever. This makes people think, you know. It is almost strange how the 'standard' is male when 51% of the world population is not male. And then I have not even mentioned people who identify with the LGBT+ community!

Thank you for the suggestion, I'll try to use the plural form in the future. That didn't cross my mind because in Italian we have different sex form even for plural form, so that doesn't do the trick for us. Using a male form when addressing a group of mixed people isn't just a convention, but a grammar rule, and our grammar is way more strict than the English one. Even the more extreme LGBT activists follow that rule, because we don't have a viable alternative that can be understood by anyone. We should create a new rule, but such a synthetic approach is bound to failure in the real life.


Can anyone be an actor? Can anyone sing? Can anyone perform surgery? Yes to all of these. But are they good at it. And in once instance, are they so good at it that someone trusts their life in their hands. Or, in the developer world, someone trusts their entire corporate business on the platform that is built. So, can anyone become a developer? Absolutely. Can anyone become a competent developer? No.


Can anyone become a competent developer? No.

I don't think this is true. As with the other activities you listed, practice is what makes someone better at a thing. That's why singers have voice coaches and Doctors go to medical school.

Sure, some may pick certain things up quicker than someone else, but just because the journey is different doesn't mean the destination also has to be.


You're simply not considering the possibility of trying to learn something and fail. And yes here I'm talking about learning something, not just passing an exam to get a certificate(as most of us did at one time or another throughout our lives).

This seems irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

This thread is specifically referring to someone that is interested in learning programming, not someone trying to pass a class they aren't interested in. I firmly believe that anyone that passionately wants to learn programming for any reason can become a competent developer.

Define "competent". The industry average is nearly complete failure. Yes, anyone can, but the fact of the matter is that few do. From my research on the topic, this is actually quite normal in many industries.


I think is a moot question, the real questions are: should anyone assume s(he) can't? no; should anyone feel bad because s(he) can't? no. Should everyone try, only if necessary or are interested in. Is there any way to predict if someone can or can't? I don't think so. So if anyone can become a developer, I think, is irrelevant.

To empirically test it is unfeasible and believe one of the other has no benefit, in my opinion, the only way to know is try. And after all as others commented even if anyone can doesn't mean they will make a good job, enjoy or make something with it.

And that is not even getting into the difficult stuff, does outdoorsy people can? even if they get depressed in from a screen too long? can someone how enjoy adrenaline and adventure?, can someone who love something other thing and feel miserable doing something else?, can someone who find really hard to focus for more than 1min in front of a screen?


I've come to look at this from two perspectives.

First, almost all of us go through school learning to write, paint, play soccer, speak a foreign language, and probably a bunch of other things I've forgotten in many years out of school. We can all do those things, but few of us actually do.

Similarly, look at driving. Most of us can drive, if we're in a certain range. We need some minimum capability and minimal training and people let us barrel down the road in a cartoonishly dangerous device. But few of us are earning a living as cabbies, bus drivers, or truckers, because the work of driving--the frustration and drudgery of doing that work all day every day for forty years--isn't appealing.

It's the same with programming. Almost anybody can do it (probably really anybody, but I suppose there's probably some obscure chronic brain condition or other that would make the work impossible), but it takes a special kind of person to enjoy an environment where you're always either failing or transitioning to the next task to fail at. The "talent" is just being willing to stick with it.


Well, this comment is a little bit late since it is after a week this post got published but let me tell you how I feel about this question.
Honestly NO! Not everyone can become a developer. This doesn't mean that developers are aliens or they are special people, no! Developing needs passion - needs love and of course time!
Lots of my friends who were fascinated seeing me coding tried to learn to code and asked me if they can learn it well and I was like YES OF COURSE WHY NOT? Yet most of them failed because they were feeling frustrated by all the things they don't know! They had no passion to learn.
So being a developer is a special task that only people with passion can claim to be.


Thank you Adnan!

To be honest, this is also how I see it. Technically, anyone can become a developer, but there are so many other factors that come to play like the wish/motivation/suitability of the field etc.


Yes everybody can be developer.
Not everybody should be wok as developer, I think that a person that work with (not developer) computer need some degree of coding skill to help him to automate repeating task in dayliy job


And yet, a 'person' could be someone who is not 'him'.


I think it's absolutely true. People can do almost anything if they're determined. Most often, they just shoot themselves in the foot by telling themselves that they can't.


I believe in the saying “ where there’s a will there’s a way”.. even if you don’t have a passion for it or the genetic skills , you can acquire them.
Weather they turn out as a good or a bad developer is up to them and their path.


I firmly believe most people can create a crappy web page or app. Does that mean I agree with the statement?

The first step is to define both "anyone" and "developer". I doubt most people less than 6 years of age or more than 80 years of age would qualify. Throw out those who cannot concentrate for more than 5 minutes, those who don't have access to a computer (likely 1/4 of the earth's population), and so on.

So what is a developer? Someone who writes at least one line of bash or Windows BAT?

So the answer is an emphatic no. Why don't we see "Can anyone become a novelist?" It's similar in scope. It takes time, dedication, and the resulting product might be something no one wants.


Nope but they should have certain system mindset & skillsets to help them to automate work, research & overcoming failure.


Something to consider: There's a difference between being doing something, being good at doing that thing, enjoying doing that thing, and doing that thing being good for you long term.

Most people are, with the right training, able to do almost any job they choose. That is not the same as them being good at that job, or that they would actually would enjoy doing that job, or that job being a good choice for them long term.

Looking at this a bit differently, if I wanted, I could almost certainly quit my current job, enlist in the army, and be a soldier. I might have some difficulty with basic training at first simply because I'm not exactly in great shape, but I'm fairly confident I could get through it. However, I'd be a horrible soldier (I hate confrontation of any form, don't do well under stress, and have poor eyesight), I likely wouldn't enjoy it much (with the possible exception of becoming an armorer or mechanic), and it would be a generally poor career choice for me long term (it would involve a pay cut and significant increase in personal risk on a daily basis, and I already have enough trouble relating to people without dealing with stuff like PTSD).


Although it's taboo these days to talk about it, there is an intelligence requirement for programming albeit it dependent on task, a vast difference between the intelligence of individuals and on average most people are below the fresh hold to be particularly good at programming.

Day to day, I talk to people and on the general subjects that come up it's rare to encounter many people I can really call stupid. Though there are often observable variations in knowledge and intelligence domains.

In programming I sometimes see very large ranges in capability and intellectual ability to an extent that might surprise people. People talk about 10X programmers, I've seen a lot of people that can "do things fast" but also do them poorly. I have however also seen, albeit a small proportion, of programmers than can do things often ten times faster and better! Thought they may have a slower rate of acceleration particularly as they are more aware of true requirements up front and how to do things properly. They tend to make systems with log n to linear scales (maintainability, efficiency, code growth, etc) where as the lower level developers tend to make systems with linear or worse scaling across the board.

There's also a scale where the higher the ability, the more of the work they can do. I've seen cases where people are so bad they can only do about 5% of the work. In reality average intelligence tends to be able to cope with at least 25% of the work. In many cases it can be flipped, they might be able to manage 75% of the work. It really depends. The results are often very poor when there's not someone who can manage what's remaining of what no one else can do or do sufficiently well enough. The difference between a team of four 75% developers and a team the same except one is a 100% developer is often more than you think (more than getting the extra 25%) because they also significantly improve the work of the 75% or less developers.

It might be easy to look at as being able to have ten low skilled programmers but it's not as simple as stacking bricks. The better programmers, the smarter ones, also make better programs or better buildings.

There's also a qualitative gap where the better programmers can come up with solutions or solve problems that lower ones can't which makes then infinitely more capable within a certain scope, IE, not comparable. You can't replace one of them with ten, a hundred or even a thousand developers that are below an intelligence threshold and get the same result.

The less intelligent the person and the less practised, the harder it is to understand this. The less people understand the less they understand what they don't understand.

I find the biggest problem with low skilled programmers is not the quality of their work, their speed or their inabilities. Contrary to that, not all programming work needs the highest level of intellect and I find there's plenty that can be done by anyone, albeit not necessarily well and if not careful at a very excessive cost.

I find a larger problem is where such people that aren't that good either due to being less intelligent or new at it don't have a good attitude or psychological adjustment to that. Ego can be a huge undermining force which some might be able to get away with when at least being intelligent and good at the work often turns these people from being not the most productive to being counter productive.

This takes on a greater collective malignancy when groupthink comes into play. That doesn't work well for skilled work. Democracy can completely fail. That's a significant problem when the growth is huge. A huge amount of new people and low intelligent people because there aren't enough high intelligence people and not enough senseis.

The people at the apex of skill, experience, knowledge and understanding are too rare and rarely the influencers.

Programming is a recent phenomena that barely started one generation ago.

A way to get a good handle of it is to compare it to the age distribution of nations: i.ytimg.com/vi/ekwm3w71TYM/maxresd...

The growth of programming looks something like this by comparison:


In an ideal situation, there would be one person like myself to each team of around a few to a dozen.

Even considering that high intelligence programmers are already a small proportion of the programmer population, the number of new entrants is also extreme making it such that you don't have enough intelligent programmers by around at least factor of ten. In some circumstances it might be a hundred.

Though it's not always a problem for those able to attract the best and cream off the top.

The impact this has on groupthink can sometimes be extremely bad. I see it all the time, flocking. Suddenly everyone's doing this, everyone's doing that and it's like watching a headless chicken. There's often no real leadership.

There's sometimes enough demand that anyone can be a programmer. That's not because there's no skill requirement, it's because demand exceeds supply sometimes and the only option is to forego skill requirements.

In summary real world examples tell me that "But I also believe that everything can be learned if you:" is simply not true.

It may even be counter productive. There's no excuse not to learn all you can and the be the best you can.

You also have to accept that in spite of that, you most likely won't be able to do everything. Nor is is necessarily required. It's not normal either for developers to be paid 100K. That's a specific segment. I've seen it's quite normal in places for developers to be paid as little as 25K. Less for interns, etc.


Thank you for your thoughts!

Usually, people enjoy things where they are good or where they can see progress(which motivates to move forward). And maybe every person has a ceiling after which they can't get better. But at least from the perspective of software/web development world, I don't believe this ceiling is low.

I also like your example of the army. And it nicely illustrates that even though you wouldn't be the best soldier, you could still be one. If you wanted, with proper training in psychology, communication and fitness, chances of you becoming a good soldier rise. Whether swimming against the current is sensible in the long run, is another question.

I've actually been in my country's mandatory defence forces for 11 months. I'm not someone who enjoys confronting people or stepping into arguments(as I'm not very good in articulating). Nevertheless, the time there taught me that with proper preparation, I'm able to stand my ground.


In this age of mass amateurization, anybody can be a developer.

But not everyone can be a professional developer.


No. Everybody can write, but not everybody can be a writer.


Everybody that can write can be a writer. They may be better or worse writers, but they'll be writers... And with practice and training, they may become great writers.