A junior programmer usually holds an entry-level position and works under the guidance of more experienced programmers and software analysts. He or she may write software code, plan programs or perform error testing for the software designed by other programmers. Some junior programmers are also involved in research and help solve the problems that they or other programmers experience. To become a junior programmer, you will need to have a good knowledge of a programming language, software design and software testing. A college degree and relevant programming experience are also common requirements for many entry-level programming jobs.
Knowing a programming language is the most critical requirement, but the programming languages you'll need to know to become a junior programmer vary greatly by employer. If you work for a large company, you may need to know multiple languages to start the job and will possibly need to learn even more as you gain experience in the company. Many job postings specify a language, so you may be able to find a position even if you are only knowledgeable about one major language. This is also the case if you plan to do freelance work, because you can sell your specific programming skills to clients who need you for their projects.
Although knowing a programming language is extremely important, you may also need a college degree to become a junior programmer. Many companies like to see a bachelor's degree in information technology, computer science or software engineering before they will consider you for an entry-level programming position. If you already have extensive work experience and a portfolio of programming projects, some employers may waive this requirement for some jobs. The downside of this, however, is that you may find it more difficult to obtain promotions if you decide not to earn a college degree.
Many employers also require a year or more of development experience and may also require experience in databases and web programming for you to become a junior programmer. You will want to create a portfolio of the projects you do on your own or during a college degree program so you can show your work to potential employers. If you need to gain experience, you can try offering programming services to acquaintances or on freelance job sites. This will help you gain relevant experience and give you more programming work to add to your portfolio.