Can I Be a Programmer If I’m Bad at Math?

Can I Be a Programmer If I’m Bad at Math?

From the cell phone in your hand to the software program you use at work, programming is embedded into people’s lives in so many ways. With programming careers in high demand, you may be questioning whether your C minus in basic arithmetic can get you onto this hot career path. 

Computer programming requires at least a basic understanding of mathematics. But if you want a real career in programming, with room for growth, then you must be good at mathematics and all that it encompasses. It all just depends on how far you want to make it in the field of programming.

There is a big gap between basic mathematical skills and Calculus II, so you may be wondering why and how math is so important to a programming career. Continue reading to learn just how far your mathematical skills need to go and why it is so important to master these skills before pursuing programming as a career. 

So, do you need to be good at math to be a programmer?

Programming involves a lot of education and skill development to be successful. As long as you have a basic understanding of mathematics, you can still make it in the world of programming. Although being good at math is one aspect of programming, there are other skills that must be mastered as well. Some skills necessary for programming are:

  • Problem solving skills/Critical Thinking
  • Determination
  • Communication and teamwork
  • Detail-oriented
  • Mathematics

A combination of these skills and many others are necessary for you to be able to move into a programming career and have the kind of success you want out of your chosen career path. Lacking any one of these skills can really hinder you and your ability to become a good, or even great, programmer. 

Simple Mathematics Skills Needed in Programming

Mathematics is essential in many different elements of computer programming. Even low level programming requires an understanding of simple mathematics. Examples of simple mathematics are:

  • Adding
  • Subtracting
  • Multiplication
  • Division

These basic math skills are used in just about any form of programming there is, and you just cannot get by with not knowing at least these four things. But even knowing these will only get you started in a career in programming. If you really want to succeed, you have to take your math skills even farther. 

Higher Level Mathematics Used in Programming

For your programming career to advance to a higher level, gaining experience beyond basic mathematics is essential. Examples of other types of mathematics important in a career in programming are:

  • College Algebra
  • Calculus (I and II)
  • Statistics

These more advanced mathematical skills are used in solving different complex equations that come with computer programming. Another reason that these skills are so important is because the ability to master complex mathematics also comes with the mastering of certain skills such as logic and being able to follow strict instructions. 

These skills are just as important as mathematics in a programming career. It is almost a guarantee that you will learn a lot of logic and direction-following in your pursuit of mastering mathematics. Mathematics, logic, and direction-following will put you well on your way as an expert programmer. 

Ways Mathematics Are Used in Programming

Now that you know the different kinds of mathematics needed for a career in programming, your next question may be how these mathematics are used. Simplifying it is difficult, but some basic ways that you would use mathematics in programming are:

  • Binary coding
  • Developing algorithms 
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Coding with applications

These are just a few examples of how mathematics are used in programming. There are countless more applications for mathematics in programming. Making sure your understanding of mathematics is more than adequate is important for your success as a programmer. 

How to Improve Your Mathematical Skills

Learning that mathematics is a necessary skill in programming might be a bit deterring in your pursuit of a programming career. But throwing in the towel will not help you get where you want to be. If a career in programming is what you are considering, then finding ways to increase your skills in mathematics is the next step. Some ways you can increase your mathematical skills are:

  • Taking mathematical classes/extra classes
  • Hiring a tutor
  • Paying a professional
  • Taking programming courses

Taking Mathematical Classes or Extra Classes

If you are not already taking courses in mathematics, this is something you should definitely consider. Some places you can look into for taking courses are:

  • Technical Institute
  • College or University
  • Online Classes

If you are already taking courses, you may be wondering how taking extras could possibly help you when you are already struggling with your current ones. The simple answer is that taking extra classes helps you continue to practice, and practice makes perfect. Plus it will help introduce you to many others that may be able to help you.

Maybe you jumped into a calculus course before you were ready. Or maybe you are struggling with Calculus II and need to go back and take Calculus I again? It may seem repetitive and redundant, but if it helps you get into the career you want, it may be worth it.  

Tutoring in Mathematics

If you struggle with your homework in your mathematical courses, then you are probably thinking programming is not for you. Reaching out to a tudor can really make all the difference. There are many different ways to learn how to do mathematics, and sometimes you just need a fresh look.

A tutor can give you a different perspective on a mathematical concept that you have never seen before. Getting some one on one attention may be the only extra push you need in order for the problems to start making sense. A tutor can really feel out the obstacles blocking your understanding and break it down into simpler steps.

Paying a Professional

A programming professional can help you tackle that computer science homework you are struggling with. Not only can you knock out the homework that does not make sense, you can watch a professional go to work. Hiring a professional can give you a behind the scenes look that may just help your own brain start ticking.

Watching them work and getting any explanations from them that you can could help you begin to understand some of the mathematics going into programming. Their keen eye and years of experience could begin to rub off on you in ways that could help you succeed in your pursuit in programming. 

Taking Programming Courses

Jumping into some programming courses while you are still struggling in your mathematical courses may seem like a bad step. But if programming is what interests you, then going ahead and taking a few courses might be the push you need to grasp mathematics. 

If you do not enjoy mathematics on a baser level, then that might be what is keeping you from really getting into mathematics in the first place. Combining it with programming might peak your interest more and help you learn better in an environment you enjoy. Or it might help you discover that programming just is not for you.

If you hate mathematics and it is more than just because you have yet to find a way to understand it, then programming may not be the job career for you. So taking a programming course can help you determine whether you would actually enjoy the career before you spend a lot of time and money in pursuit of it. 


Programming can be a very promising career in this very technological world. Getting your footing in mathematics is crucial for a successful career. But just because you struggle with mathematics does not mean you should give up just yet. There is a lot of help out there and sometimes it just takes a little more time and dedication.

So if you really think programming could be the career for you, get on the web and start finding some resources to help you. Seek out professional help such as a seasoned programmer or educated tutor. Do not let a fear of mathematics hold you back. Tackle the problem and push forward until you are seated in the career you want. 


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