Does Every Great Programmer Type Fast?

Do Every Great Programmer Type Fast?I believe that fast typing is not a prerequisite but it helps you with several things:

  • Some programming languages are fairly verbose (such as Java). Same goes for front-end development (generating markup, scaffolding projects, building new templates). Fast-typists can do better, although most intelligent IDEs can do most of the heavy lifting.
  • You don’t want your typing speed to affect your thinking process. The faster you type, the sooner you’ll reach the next step of the algorithm and jump to the next problem. The difference may seem insignificant – but it compounds over time.
  • Researching data online, asking questions on Stack Overflow, debugging different variations of a variable will execute slightly faster if you type fast (all other things being equal).

The average typing speed worldwide is around 40 words per minute (within 200 symbols). Most developers I know usually clock at least 70 words per minute.

We just did an experiment with some of my team members. Our front-end lead clocked in at 96 words. One of our team leaders did 98 wpm. I average about 94 words per minute though I can make it to 96-98 as well.

One of our developers we hired less than a year ago just smashed us with 165 words per minute! (that’s not too far from the world record).

A portion of the work as a developer is related to producing other forms of content as well – email reports, documentation, comments and the like. This often doesn’t involve too much “thinking” (such as analyzing a problem and coming up with the corresponding algorithm). The typing speed is definitely a factor there.

Either way, a brilliant engineer who averages 40 words per minute may still produce more than a junior who does 100 words per minute. But practicing your typing speed may generally help you learn faster and produce slightly more than someone with the very same background and experience who is a slightly slower typist.