Many individuals think that you have to type at blazing speeds of over 100 words per minute to be a coder. The Hollywood coder stereotype further compounds this. How fast do you actually have to type in order to be a good coder? Let’s find out.
Coders do not need to type fast because coding requires more problem-solving and thinking rather than typing. Coding applications even offer unique features and shortcut commands allowing lines of code to be written more easily and quickly, negating the suggestion that coders need to type fast. Moreover, coders only write a few lines of usable code per day.
We will learn in this article if coders must be able to type fast, and we will relate this to how many lines of usable code an average coder writes per day. Understanding this and what coding is will give us a better understanding of if they really need to be fast typists. We also look at why some coders can type fast and how you can increase your typing speed.
Do coders need to type fast?
The general consensus amongst most coders (programmers) is that they do not need to type fast, and neither do you if you want to be able to code well and fluently. There are actually several reasons why coders do not need to type fast (although some can), and the main reason is that most of the work involved in coding is based on problem-solving and not typing.
This does not mean that being able to type fast is not helpful. It is in some regards and will obviously be a little bit more beneficial than typing at a plodding speed but typing fast is not a deal-breaker for being a great coder.
How much usable code does a coder write on average?
The average coder writes approximately 50 lines of productive code per day. If we have to take an average of 10 words or 100 characters per line, and an average person who can type reasonably well types 50 words a minute, it would only take eight minutes to complete an entire day’s work worth of coding.
However, it does not take 8 minutes; it takes eight hours to write 50 lines of usable code in a day. That’s one line of code per hour in a working day. Even using one finger to type, most people would be able to write ten words or 100 characters in an hour. This adds to the fact that coding is more related to problem-solving and thinking than typing.
Coding speed and typing speed are not the same things
Coding requires unique characters and lines that look nothing like a typical sentence. Hence, being able to type fast pertaining to creating sentences is not the same as writing a code line. Therefore even if you can type fast, this does not mean you will be able to code quickly.
Some characters for coding include all the keys on your keyboard that you rarely touch when typing out a typical sentence, and due to this, some coding apps (text editors) even provide additional functionality.
This means you can code without typing letter-by-letter. For example, a program used for coding, such as Atom, can pull up multiple code lines by typing a couple of characters. Then, by hitting the return key (“Enter” key), the program will automatically insert the appropriate opening and closing tags along with any other familiar attributes.
There are many other features and shortcut keys, and commands in these types of coding applications that allow a coder to create multiple lines of code in just seconds. Check out this video here where this type of coding is done.
Coding involves more thinking than writing code
As we discussed, coding is more about thinking (problem-solving) than actual typing. Coders spend 4/5 of the time they have available on this aspect of the job. This involves thinking and considering whether the code runs effectively and efficiently, whether it is readable and easily understood by another coder, and if it can work independently, not affecting other parts of the program.
What precisely matters to coders when typing?
The most important thing that a coder must be able to do with regards to typing is that they must be able to type without it affecting their train of thought. This means that they should be able to type effectively rather than with speed.
Making a mistake with typing means that a coder has to stop dead in their tracks and move back to make a correction, essentially slowing down their momentum and thought process. Coders get into what is known as a “flow,” which is a thought process or state of mind where they think and problem -solve things very fluently, and when they are distracted by mistake, this hinders this thought process.
Another factor to consider is that they also wear headphones to achieve this state of mind, and I cover that in aspect in a related article here (Why Do Coders Wear Headphones).
Why can some coders type fast?
Coding does not involve regular typing as such. Many special characters are used to write one line of code, and typically a coder will not type out complete sentences because this is not part of the job requirement. So why can some coders type over 100 words a minute?
Besides spending on average 8 hours out of a day typing lines of code, that is not the only thing that the job entails. A large portion of work when being a coder is related to creating other forms of content. This can be documentation, emails, comments, sending messages to co-workers, and so forth.
These forms of other content have to be produced and delivered multiple times on a daily basis, and this requires no thinking as such but is rather related to the speech. The average person speaks English at about 120 words per minute. This is relatively fast, and only the top 5% of typists can type at this speed.
With a lot of time, experience, and practice, coders and other individuals who create forms of content from a keyboard where they utilize speech and not “thinking” perse can learn to type fast.
How can I learn to type faster?
If you are looking to learn to type fast, you need to practice as with anything in life. Typing is a relatively easy skill where you can get to a speed of moderately fast, and it doesn’t involve that much work. Besides practicing, you need to learn to use a keyboard correctly. This means correct finger placement on the keys utilizing all five fingers per hand and not just your index finger.
Additionally, there are many applications and websites that offer tutorials and working examples, including tests that you can take to increase your typing speed. One such website is TypingClub, where you can learn touch typing for free.
We discovered that although it may seem like you need to type fast if you want to code, this is not a prerequisite and is actually not required at all. Coders typically write only 50 lines of usable code per day, and with even a slow typing speed, this could be done in a couple of minutes, yet it takes them eight hours.
We concluded that this is due to the fact that coding is a job that requires more problem-solving rather than fast typing skills. We even found out that coding applications that coders use to work in have built-in features and shortcut commands that let them insert and create lines of code more quickly.
However, some coders are fast typists, but this is because they spend many more hours out of their day creating other forms of content such as emails and documents that require them to type at a “thinking” speed.