Programming can seem bewildering to those who are first trying to understand it, and the terms may feel like a foreign language at first. Although programming is a highly skilled profession, the fundamental concepts are not as confusing as they sound and will form a sound basis for amateurs and professionals alike.

Beyond the basics

We’ll explore the fundamental concepts here, but anyone who wants to move beyond the basics into one of the many professions that good programmers can enter should consider earning a degree.

One of the many professions that a strong programming background can be helpful for is data analysis, a growth profession that can command a rewarding salary. The master’s in data science at Kettering University Online is a good example of a course that understands the importance of programming in data analysis and recognizes that not all students will be confident in this area.

Part of the foundational track of this course is an introduction to programming to give students a comprehensive understanding of concepts including variables, data structure, syntax, control structure and tools. This will help to further your career in data science and programming.


A variable is a way of storing information for later use. An example of a variable is a text box that pops up on a screen of a website asking for information such as a name. It can then store that information for when it is needed.

Data structure

Data structure enables data to be streamlined if a large amount of information is involved. Instead of creating lots of different variables, which vastly increases the amount of text in a program and makes the coding rigid, data structures contain the related variables, so only one is needed. This makes the coding more flexible and easier to change.

Control structure

A control structure allows a program to make choices that affect the code’s flow. It analyzes variables and selects the direction based on the given parameters. Generally, code is read from left to right, top to bottom. However, a control structure allows it to make decisions such as skipping a block of code, repeating it or jumping to a different part.


Like any language, programming follows rules that determine how the letters and symbols are laid out. These rules ensure that the computer can understand the programmer. A basic example is the layout of an email address with the form name followed by @ and then the website domain (for example, This is instantly recognizable as an email address and is known as the email syntax. Different programming languages will have their own syntax for programmers to follow.


Tools in programming work in much the same way as tools in the physical world, enabling you to carry out a task more efficiently and effectively. In computer programming, a tool is software that will enable the programmer to write code faster, streamlining the process to maximize efficiency.

Learning to code

There are many programming languages in use today, and some are more common than others. However, most will share the same building blocks, and understanding the fundamental concepts is essential for programmers.