How to Learn C and C++

Even though they have been around for years, C and C++ are still among the most popular programming languages.
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  • C++ is an evolution of C, so the two coding languages have a lot in common.
  • C++ adds functionality for object-oriented programming, as well as other features.
  • C and C++ are used for many purposes, including system applications, games, and graphics.

The C programming language was created by Dennis Ritchie. It was designed to allow programmers to write programs that could run on any computer system with few changes. C++ was created by Bjarne Stroustrup, who added the ability to use C for object-oriented programming. C++ also introduced additional functionality into the language, such as templates, function overloading, and exceptions.

What's the Difference Between C vs. C++?

Since C++ is an evolution of C, the two languages have a lot in common. However, when looking at C vs. C++, C++ adds functionality for object-oriented programming. It also adds references, namespaces, type safety, and variable declarations in conditionals. These additional characteristics differentiate C++ from C.

Another difference between C and C++ is that C is a procedural language that takes a top-down approach, and C++ is an object-oriented programming language that takes a bottom-up approach. A procedural language calls procedures that contain a series of steps and runs them. Object-oriented programming uses data and objects in addition to logic and functions.

Top-down programming starts with a high-level description of what the program should do and breaks those tasks into smaller pieces that correspond to the simplest elements in the programming language. Bottom-up programming takes the opposite approach, starting with the simplest elements and building up to more complicated tasks.

Why Learn C and C++?

Although C and C++ are not among the easiest programming languages to learn, they are certainly worth the effort. Note that some programmers choose to learn how to program in C before taking on C++, since C is part of C++.

C is used for many purposes, including:

  • Scripting system applications
  • Enterprise applications
  • Games
  • Graphics
  • Applications requiring a lot of calculations

C++ is also used for many different applications, including:

  • Games
  • GUI-based applications
  • Operating systems
  • Database software
  • Advanced computations
  • Browsers
  • Graphics

Even though they have been around for years, C and C++ are still among the most popular programming languages. The TIOBE index for November 2021 lists C as the second most popular programming language and C++ as the fourth most popular language.

How Can I Learn C and C++?

If you want to know how to learn C or how to learn C++, you'll have many different options. These include books on C++ for beginners, courses on platforms such as Udemy and Coursera, coding bootcamps, and online degree programs. You'll need to evaluate your options and decide on the best way to learn C++.

Before You Get Started With C and C++

Before you start programming in C or C++, you must download a compiler. The compiler converts the code you write into a file that can be executed by a computer. Some popular compilers include Code::Blocks for Windows and g++ for Linux.

Decide How You Will Learn C and C++

If you are an independent learner, you can teach yourself C or C++ using a book, course, or even YouTube videos. Many online C and C++ courses are free or inexpensive, costing at the most a few hundred dollars. This is very cheap compared to the cost of a coding bootcamp or a college degree, but you will be on your own, with little or no support to help you learn.

Bootcamps for C and C++

If you need the help of an instructor to learn C or C++, a bootcamp might be a good choice. Most coding bootcamps take a few months to complete and teach you the basic skills you need to know to pursue an entry-level job in the field. The average cost of a bootcamp was $13,579 in 2020.

Computer Science or Computer Programming Degrees

The traditional route to a computer programming career involves earning a bachelor's degree in computer programming or computer science. Although this route takes much longer than a bootcamp, it provides a broader education that includes general education courses as well as a solid grounding in computer science principles. Check the required courses before choosing a program. Not all computer science or computer programming degrees cover C or C++.

Follow the Program

Most courses and programs follow a logical progression, teaching the basics first and adding more complex features as you learn. However, if you find that a particular program is not working for you, don't hesitate to try another method.

Are you ready to start learning C or C++? Consider enrolling in an online coding bootcamp.

Cons of Learning C and C++

While there are many good reasons to learn C and C++, there are also downsides to programming in C or C++. Here are a few of them.

  • Pointers: C and C++ use pointers to pass functions to other functions and place new objects on the heap. C++ offers smart pointers, which are safer to use than raw pointers. Raw pointers cause many programming errors in C and C++.
  • Threads: C++ lacks built-in support for threads. Threads allow multiple sequences of instructions to be executed at the same time.
  • No Built-In Garbage Collector: C++ does not have a built-in garbage collector, so if your program requires garbage collection, you'll have to use one of the garbage collectors that has been created for C++ or build your own.

What Jobs Can I Get if I Know C and C++?

C++ programming is in high demand, especially for video game programming. As of November 2021, there were over 75,000 C++ programming jobs listed with Indeed, including the following:

  • Software Engineer: Software engineers develop, build, and maintain software programs. They may also work with designers throughout the software development life cycle. According to Payscale data from November 2021, software engineers earn an average salary of $87,820 per year.
  • Computer Programmer: Computer programmers write computer programs using a variety of programming languages, such as C, C++, Python, and Java. They also update existing programs and perform testing to ensure that their programs work properly. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median income for a computer programmer was $89,190 in May 2020. The BLS projects that the demand for computer programmers will fall 10% from 2020-30.
  • Computer Systems Administrator: Computer systems administrators are responsible for keeping systems up to date and making sure they run smoothly. They decide what systems the organization needs and install the required hardware and software. According to the BLS, computer systems administrators earned a median income of $84,810 per year in 2020. The BLS projects a 5% growth in computer systems administrator jobs from 2020-30.
  • Software Developer: Software developers analyze the needs of the users and develop applications that meet those needs. According to the BLS, software developers earned a median income of $110,140 per year in 2020. The BLS projects that the demand for software developers will increase by 22% between 2020-30.
  • Senior Data Manager: Senior data managers come up with policies and procedures related to database management and assign tasks to other employees as needed. They prepare reports, find the cause of data errors, and make sure that the data system is working properly. According to Payscale data from November 2021, the average base salary for a senior data manager is $87,350.
  • Computer Programming Instructor: Postsecondary computer science teachers teach at the college level, whether teaching in a college, university, or bootcamp environment. They may specialize in a specific area of computer science. According to the BLS, postsecondary computer science teachers earn a median income of $85,540 per year.

Frequently Asked Questions About C and C++

How long does it take to learn C++?

C++ is somewhat difficult to learn, especially if you have never programmed before or you have never used a low-level programming language before. If you are a beginner with no programming experience, you should expect it to take at least three months to learn the basics. If you have programmed before, it may only take you a month or two.

To build mastery in C++, you should expect to spend at least two years working on improving your skills a little each day.

What is C++ used for?

C++ is often used for video game development. Video games are very complex and require a programming language that can keep up with everything that is going on. C++ is also used for GUI-based applications, banking applications, and operating systems.

Many programming libraries use C++ since they require high-level mathematical computations. C++ has the high speed and performance required for programming libraries. C++ is also widely used to manipulate hardware resources.

Can I learn C++ as a beginner?

Yes, you can learn C++ as a beginner, but it will take longer than if you already have a firm grasp of programming. If you have never programmed before, look for a C++ course that is designed with beginners in mind. Another option would be to try to learn an easier language first, then come back to C++ when you feel you are ready.

Is it better to learn C or C++ first?

Geeks for Geeks recommends learning C first because it allows you to get the basics down before you start learning the extra features that C++ provides. Some of the features in C++ offer shortcuts, or easier ways of doing things. This might sound great to a beginner, but if you don't learn how to do it without the shortcut, you won't have that technique available in your toolbox when you need it.

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