8 Personal Traits that make a Successful Programmer

Having a solid set of hard skills like JAVA, Python and C++ is a must for freelance programmers, but there is more to the job than that. Some people, whether through their lifestyle, previous job, talents or surroundings are more likely to become great programmers than others. Why is that the case?



Successful programmers share a number of personal traits. These aren’t things people are born with. In fact, they can be fostered or trained by anyone who is motivated enough. These are qualities that will help you grow your business as a freelance programmer or go up the ranks as an employee.

Here’s our list of the eight defining traits of great programmers:

1. Puzzle-solver

If you’re going to write a code, things are going to go wrong. A lot. It’s a natural thing that happens, a huge a part of the coding process is trial and error. There are people that find this extremely frustrating. And any programmer will be able to tell you a story or two where they felt like smashing the keyboard against the screen. If you enjoy this challenge, however, you will thrive thanks to it. People who like solving puzzles are right at home in this profession.

2. Lifelong learner

Programming, like almost all jobs involving computer technology, is prone to extremely rapid changes. Not only does technology evolve at a breathtaking pace, trends also come and go, sometimes in a matter of months. If you’re working in this field, you will have to be willing to learn new stuff. That means refreshing and updating your skillset to fit the market and technology as a whole at regular intervals. This is a vital skill to becoming a successful programmer in the long term.

3. Curious

This trait has something in common with signing up for lifelong learning – it’s about being driven and passionate about your job. But while learning requires systematic commitment, being curious is all about that initial spark. Even if things work after the first try, a good programmer still asks themselves why that is. A good programmer always strives to understand how his work functions, because that is how you make it better.

4. Self-disciplined

As a developer, you’re going to be spending a good amount of time behind a keyboard by yourself – whether there are other people in the room or not, you’ll be “in the zone”. It’s important to be able to maintain that deep work mode for a long time. That comes down to self-discipline. Are you able to draw upon intrinsic motivation to power through those long days? Are you able to give yourself a metaphorical “carrot” that pushes you towards a goal? If the answers are yes, you are a self-disciplined person. And that is a much-needed quality for programmers.

5. Communication skills

This trait might seem to clash with the previous one at first, but the mix of both is what really makes you efficient. Programmers work with people outside of their own field for a majority of their projects. Communication is key – whether you need to talk to clients, other departments or even fellow colleagues who have a different degree of experience in a certain topic. Being able to efficiently and accurately explained what you’re doing, why that is the way you have chosen to do it and what alternatives there might be will take you a long way.

6. Adaptable

Working on projects that don’t have changes from day one all the way to the end is a bit like the Bigfoot of programming – There are people who claim to have witnessed it, but we all know it’s not actually true. Project requirements and scopes change all the time in programming. That is partly what makes the job so exciting. Agile project management, which has gotten extremely popular in the past years, is all about adapting to change. You’ll have to be willing and able to deal with that as a programmer.

7. Logical mindset

Programming can often seem and feel chaotic, but it’s all about understanding and implementing the internal logic of whatever language you’re working with. People who don’t get easily frustrated get extra points here. Being able to handle a problem in a logical, analytical way makes a programmer worth their own weight in gold.

8. Love for technology

Last but not least, great programmers very passionate about technology. Again, that’s not a skill that just came to them. Maybe they liked tinkering when they were children. Or they were the kids that used to love finding ways around the school computer security system. Whatever the roots of the trait, loving technology often leads to acquiring a deep understanding of it. “Doing what you love” is more than just a saying for successful programmers.

Did we miss any traits that make for a great programmer? You can let us know in the comment section below this article!
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