My job is essentially a office job, I spend most of everyday sat in front of my computer. The reality is I do most of my maths with the help of statistical programming packages, however that is not to say you won’t find scraps of paper with hand written algebraic derivations littered around my desk – it just helps me think!
Predominantly, I work with one called R, which is free to download. Programming is an important part of my job and is a natural progression for anyone mathematically minded as it is essentially based on logic, and you get the same sense of satisfaction creating a working computer programme as you do solving an equation. I would strongly encourage anyone interested in a career in statistics to take a look at the tools out there as it may put you one step ahead in the jobs market.
I and most of my collegues are self taught programmers. Intially small things can be incrediably fustrasting, what really flummoxed me early on was working out how to read my data from an excel spreasheet into my R session. But, this should not deter as, your ability accumlates quickly once you have made the initial breakthrough. Further, these skills are so transferable (once you understand the principles of programming in one language, picking up a second, third, fourth etc is much easier) and valued by employers, it’s worth the early pain as it can open up so many alternative careers.
There is so much advice and many tutorials online, one I would recommend is https://www.datacamp.com/ which is great starting point for beginners, there is no reason why anyone can’t give them a go as all the material is accessible and FREE. Google is an essential resource for any programmer, it’s often quicker than looking up functions or commands in reference books and can save you a lot of time in debugging errors. ‘Have you Googled it?’ is a common retort when presented with an unseen before error message. The challenge is sometimes knowing what to search for, as the terminology may not be obvious, particularly if you don’t have any formal trainning but you will pick it up. It can also be helpful to know others are struggling as well. Stumbling across forums where people are publically declaring that they have hit the same wall as you, reaffirms you are not completely inept and on the right track. Remember we learn more from the mistakes we make than from our successes – which is a good thing as you will get lots of errors in your programming career.