What Is C++ (And How to Learn It)

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Discover the programming language C++, what it’s used for, and how to learn it.

[Featured Image] A woman wears a white shirt and headphones while sitting in front of two computer screens learning about C++.

C++ (or “C-plus-plus”) is a programming language for building software. It’s an object-oriented language that focuses on objects (data fields that have unique attributes) rather than logic or functions. A common example of an object is a user account on a website. A user account is typically comprised of data like first name, last name, email address, etc., and can be easily replicated each time a new account is created. 

C++ was invented by Bjarne Stroustrup in 1979 to extend C, a procedural programming language, and to offer programmers more control over memory and system resources. Since its inception, C++ has become the language of choice for building fast and reliable software. Its uses are versatile and cover areas such as: 

  • Software engineering

  • Operating systems 

  • Graphical user interfaces 

  • 3D animation

  • Virtual reality

  • Productivity tools 

  • Blockchain 

  • Developing games, such as World of Warcraft and Counter-Strike, and consoles like Xbox and PlayStation

If you’re thinking about getting started in C++, it’s a good idea to explore what it would be like to program with it. Programming in C++ offers several advantages. Because C++ is object-oriented, you can organize and classify the code more easily and thus reuse it instead of rewriting it. With C++, you can also interact directly with a computer’s hardware to fine-tune the code, as well as control how a system uses its software, hardware, and memory. 

Along with the advantages of having more control, C++ presents some potential challenges. Its object-oriented nature, while advantageous in ways, can involve a steep learning curve. And because C++ controls how the system uses memory, programming can be time-consuming. 

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Object-Oriented Data Structures in C++

This course teaches learners how to write a program in the C++ language, including how to set up a development environment for writing and debugging C++ ...

4.7

(2,448 ratings)

73,497 already enrolled

INTERMEDIATE level

Average time: 1 month(s)

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Careers in C++

Learning C++ can offer long-term benefits to your career as a programmer. It’s a great language to learn if you want to gain a deep understanding of how computers work. With knowledge of C++, you may also be able to pick up other languages like Python or JavaScript more easily and build a foundation for going into software engineering. 

Having experience with C++ could open up job opportunities with high-paying salaries. As of May 2022, Indeed had over 85,000 job listings in the US for C++ developers, programmers, and engineers. Around 6,000 of those jobs are estimated to have salaries above $155,000 [1].

How to learn C++

With the benefits, challenges, and opportunities that C++ presents, learning it can be a rewarding journey. You’ll want to start by taking courses or tutorials on the C++ programming language. Expect to cover such topics and concepts as:

  • Conditionals like “if statements,” “if else statements,” and “switch case statements,” which tell a computer what to do during certain conditions 

  • How to assign classes to objects (data fields with unique attributes) 

  • How to write code using C++ syntax, the predefined symbols, and characters that determine how a computer reads the code  

  • How to compile and link a C++ file, so that the code can run on a machine 

C++ basics include storing information, repeating actions through loops, and collecting user input. You can practice basic C++ with exercises like printing “Hello, World,” converting Celcius to Fahrenheit and performing arithmetic operations. 

As you become comfortable with the basics, start taking on more advanced skills. Connect with other programmers and apply your growing C++ skill set to actual projects on sites like GitHub, StackExchange, and CodeWars. Consider learning skills in computer science, software engineering, and other programming languages like JavaScript and Python to diversify your knowledge. 

Learn C++ with Coursera

Online courses can be a great way to learn C++ and build a strong foundation for your programming career. Explore Coursera’s offerings below: 

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Coding for Everyone: C and C++

Beginner to Programmer — Learn to Code in C & C++. Gain a deep understanding of computer programming by learning to code, debug, and solve complex problems with C and C++.

4.4

(1,885 ratings)

70,453 already enrolled

BEGINNER level

Average time: 6 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Algorithms, C Programming, coding, C++, Computer Programming, Graph Theory, C++11, Graph Algorithms, Standard Template Library

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course

Object-Oriented Data Structures in C++

This course teaches learners how to write a program in the C++ language, including how to set up a development environment for writing and debugging C++ ...

4.7

(2,448 ratings)

73,497 already enrolled

INTERMEDIATE level

Average time: 1 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Article sources

1.  Indeed. “C++ Developer Jobs in the US,  https://www.indeed.com/jobs?q=C%2B%2B+Developer&l=United+States&vjk=74a91e126748ee93." Accessed May 19, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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