From Fisher Price’s new Code-A-Pillar toy, to coding bootcamps springing up all over the country, to “Hour of Code,” the initiative to get all kids coding, it seems like coding and learning to code are everywhere.
You might be asking - Can I be a programmer? How can I learn to code?
Maybe you’re intrigued - you think coding sounds fun or cool but you’re not a “computer nerd,” or you’re not mathematical enough or you don’t have a Computer Science degree or or or…STOP!
Coding as a career is absolutely an option for you, and I’ll tell you why. Keep reading.
1: You can literally make anything that lives on the web
Think about how many times you used the internet today. When you woke up, you turned off your alarm (on your phone), scrolled through your Facebook and Twitter feeds, then got out of bed. Over breakfast, you posted a picture of your latte on Instagram, booked parking on SpotHero, checked off some to-dos on Habitica. Before you left, you put on your Fitbit and set your thermostat to away - on your phone.
On your way to work, there was more traffic than usual, so you opened up your maps app, turned on traffic, and rerouted your commute to get to work on time. All that before 8 am!
Maybe you use a CRM at work, and you definitely use some kind of word processing, data entry, or publishing software. You probably use the cloud to store some if not all of what you produce in an average work day. ALL of those applications and websites were created by a team of programmers using code.
When you got home, you relaxed with some games, or funny videos on YouTube. Again, (you guessed it) you used something made with code.
You can make that. All of it. You can make apps and websites that no one has thought of yet. So what are you waiting for?
2: We could all use more automation in our lives
Now, we’re not calling for a WALL-E-like future where everyone’s bones have shrunk and muscles have atrophied to the point that we can no longer support our own weight. BUT how great are garage door openers? Heated seats? If you’re lucky enough to have an autostart car or components of a smart home, you know that these conveniences make life that much sweeter.
The Internet of Things is a growing field, and as a developer, you can make and build things that make your life (and the lives of others) easier. Automatic dog bowl filler? Build an app. (But don’t worry, little Max and Bella still need you.)
3: Everyone has an app idea
You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to have an idea for an app. Everyone has had that moment where they thought “I wish there was an app for that” to solve some inconvenience or meet a need.
Currently, there are 1.9 million apps available in the Apple App Store, and as many as 60,000 new apps are uploaded and added per month.
As of June 2016, 130 billion apps had been downloaded from the Apple App Store. Why shouldn’t one of those be yours?
4: There’s not that much math involved
Like, this much.
I hope at this point in life you’re not still saying, “I’m not a math person” (see growth mindset for why), but let’s be honest, there are lots of reasons that lots of people don’t like math. Maybe you’ve always loved gaming and computers, but you’re worried you don’t have the math skills to hack it as a software developer.
Surprise! If you have a basic logical capacity to solve problems, you can be a very successful programmer. Nothing beyond basic algebra is necessary.
What do we mean by logical capacity? Can you solve problems with more than one variable? Can you hold multiple ideas in your head at the same time? Are you good at puzzles and games like Tetris? Those all require logic and spatial reasoning, some of the skills needed to be a good coder.
On the other hand, if you love math, you can definitely use more complicated trigonometry, statistics and calculus to solve more complicated problems, but most day-to-day apps don’t require that level of math proficiency.
5: If you love languages, you can be very successful as a programmer
6: There are millions of unfilled coding jobs out there.
According to freecodecamp.org, there will be 1.4 million open computing jobs by the year 2020. That sounds like it’s far in the future, but it’s in 3 years. Three years.
At the same time, there are only 400,000 students in Computer Science programs around the country. That’s a gap of one MILLION jobs (see, you can math!) that will go unfilled unless more people like you learn to code.
7: It’s actually quite social
We all know the stereotype of a computer programmer: he (always a he) lives in a basement, doesn’t get out much, has questionable social skills, quotes Monty Python instead of engaging in real conversation.
Guess what? That’s a stereotype, not the reality. While the field is not as diverse as it could, and we believe, should be, there are all types of folks from all walks of life who are learning to program and entering the tech industry. And because the field is expanding, anti-social misanthropes are no longer as employable as they used to be.
As a programmer, you must collaborate with your client, end users, marketing team, product manager, directors, testers, mentors, and the front-end or back-end counterpart to your role. In training for your career, whether at a code school like Turing or elsewhere, you’ll frequently engage in pairs programming, where you and a pair work together on a project. More and more, employers are looking for interpersonal skills when hiring. In addition, you must have the ability to communicate and empathize with people from different backgrounds in order to create accessible products.
At Turing, we believe strongly in “work hard, play hard,” and we have a lot of fun. We do live in a basement though. You can’t have everything.
8: You don’t need a Computer Science degree anymore
As we mentioned, code schools like Turing are popping up all over the place. There are also lots of free ways to dip your toe in the coding waters, like freecodecamp, codecademy, udemy, and codewars. There are even sites that help you determine a pathway to get started on your coding journey like learntocodewith.me.
You can also attend meet ups with groups like Girl Develop It and Railsbridge, and local libraries often offer learn to code classes for community members.
Turing offers a seven-month program that prepares you to be a software developer, and we boast a 94% job placement rate with an average starting salary of 74K. Many employers prefer our students to those with just a CS degree from a college or university because they know our students have passed a rigorous gauntlet of real-world challenges and evaluations (here’s the CEO of GoSpotCheck discussing his perspective).
And we’re not the only ones! Check out Course Report for an easy way to compare and contrast code schools near you.
9: Just like anything, the more you practice, the better you get
Like Malcolm Gladwell famously outlined in his book Outliers, it takes 10,000 hours to be considered an expert at anything. But everyone started somewhere. Beyonce sang her first recital before she sold out stadiums. Mae Jemison solved her first equation before she joined NASA and boarded the space shuttle. And Mark Zuckerberg typed out his first few lines of code before inventing Facebook. So why not start your 10,000 hours today?