How important is typing ability?

As a programmer, I spend a lot of time in front of a keyboard and naturally I’ve gotten pretty good at typing. Out of curiosity I took a typing test to see how fast I am (surprisingly I haven’t taken one of those in a long time):

Your speed was: 89wpm.

You made 1 mistake

Pretty good, especially when I had to type the word PASSEGGIERI (which I got right) and Turkish (which I surprisingly got wrong). This got me wondering how I compared to the average programmer typing speed. After minutes upon minutes of Googling, I found few results and the results I did find showed that 1.) programmer typing speed is all over the map and 2.) I’m apparently in the upper echelon of programmer typists.

1 is interesting, #2 is irrelevant.

I find it quite interesting that programmers, who like me spend a lot of time in front of a keyboard, are not more consistently in the 70+wpm category. It doesn’t take much time to learn the keyboard, and I would imagine practicing a few hours a day would increase speed very quickly. But it doesn’t matter. You’ll notice that I titled this post

How important is typing ability?

and not

How important is typing speed?

Typing speed is irrelevant when it comes to programming. In this world of Intellisense and copy-paste it doesn’t matter how fast your fingers can move. Programming requires a great deal of thought and speed is irrelevant if you don’t know what you’re typing. I could actually argue that typing speed increases bugs in code.

What is important is typing ability. A programmer should know where all of the keys are on the keyboard and should be able to touch type. A programmer should know where = is and what finger to hit { with. Without thinking. All of a programmer’s thought should go into the what I’m typing not the how it’s getting entered.

If you hunt-n-peck, you can’t program. There, I said it.