What exactly constitutes "knowing programming"?

That Random GuyThat Random Guy Member Posts: 67 ■■■□□□□□□□
edited August 2020 in IT Jobs / Degrees
I see this often in job postings and most of the time they're simply asking for knowledge on a  specific language (e.g. Python, Java) or scripting. Trying to get into cybersec btw.

To me, knowing a language doesn't exactly constitute having a mastery of said programming language and being able to explain every bit and bot about it.

For me, it's recognizing the syntax and being able to use the common structures every language seems to have (e.g. conditionals, collections, IO handling, exception handling).

What I am now suspecting is employers are expecting on top of what I have just mentioned is knowing said things but in a professional/business environment. So this means maybe having used some kind of toolset or having experience with processes related to deploying code and or versioning, etc.

I'm fine with my sole experience/expertice being having used notepad++ to come up with code and then running code/script to test results. Thinking of roles like sysadmin and other roles where this requirement can come up, I get the feeling employers do not see it that way and are actually seeking more. What is the general consensus on this now?

Anyone can Google sample scripts and code on the Internet, so needing to be a "master" on a language seems wasted to me. You can't know everything there is about everything.

If something random come up on the job, that's what Google is for. Am I being crazy about this or am I OK with just being complacent with knowing how to put stuff in a file and saving it to the hard disk and seeing it do what I want? Have I gone mad or is there actually something else they're looking for? Why put "Python" in job description if I'm not really a master of Python?


  • UnixGuyUnixGuy Mod Posts: 4,504 Mod
    It depends on the role really. When you learn one language well, it gets easier to learn other languages. For sysadmin type jobs, they want to see that you can automate repetitive tasks using bash or python or powershell for Windows. By programming they usually mean scripting, they don't mean programming like a software developer.

    Cyber security..depends on what in cyber security. Security engineer type roles yes again it's about automating repetitive tasks , for pentesting you will need more programming knowledge but it's different. For GRC roles or management roles you don't need any scripting skills

    Check out my YouTube Channel!

  • SteveLavoieSteveLavoie Member Posts: 1,123 ■■■■■■■■■□
    10 years ago. IT had 2 sides.. the Sysadmin/Networking side and the Dev side... now the frontier between those 2 sides are blurring.. Sysadmin need to automate and Dev are more into operation than ever. So if you came from a sysadmin background, being able to script is important. A basic programming CS class is a good base to learn basic programming construct (loop, if then...)  than learn to 1-2 scripting language and be able to script most of your usual task. 

    Even with basic programming knowledge, dont forget to learn git as source control.  
  • JDMurrayJDMurray Admin Posts: 12,866 Admin
    To me, "knowing programming" means that you can talk about the art and science of creating software from first-hand and in-depth experience that demonstrates your knowledge (academic learning), wisdom (hands-on experience), and enthusiasm ("I love writing/hacking code!") for programming. The better programmers usually talk about programming like it's sports, but you don't need to be one of the better programmers to "know" programming. This evaluation for "knowledge-ability" can be applied to most arts and sciences, I think.
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