Why You Should Learn How to Program

How learning to code can payoffFast & Company published an article, Why Learning to Code Won’t Save Your Job that triggered a lot of online debate regarding the demand of professionals who boast coding skills at every level over the next several years.

The article suggests that as coding skills becomes more commonplace, encouraging young to mid-career professionals to learn how to code is bad career advice. Citing the rise in outsourcing of work to cheaper fulfillment resources overseas (or as the article called it, “digital sweatshops”) and freelance platforms such as UpWork, in addition to the difficulty of learning to code for the average adult as reasons not to learn to code, the author succeeds in painting a rather dismal picture for individuals looking for a way to gain a competitive edge in the job marketplace.

So is it bad career advice? While we can understand the concerns raised in the article, it’s hardly any reason for individuals of any age to not learn to code. Here are some reasons why you should learn how to program.

Learning to Code Yields Dividends

Learning any new skill (not just coding) is good for us, and our health. Keeping your brain challenged by learning new things is shown to improve overall cognitive function and sharpen the memory. Health benefits aside, learning a new skill such as coding can certainly be a benefit in other ways as described in these scenarios:

In-demand diversified professional

Imagine being the marketer who can also whip up a landing page or compile, analyze and present data in a way that’s easy to digest. Those two capabilities alone are in demand as startups and established enterprises seek hybrid professionals who can contribute in more ways than one. And for the professional, learning how to code can help make that happen. The trend of doing more with less isn’t going away anytime soon and workers who can contribute in more ways than one will be at an advantage in the job market.

The Payoff: Diverse skills enable a person to stand out as a candidate and open doors to other positions in an ever-evolving field.

Speaking the language

Do you manage or work with programming/development professionals? What better way to really understand the challenges they face than to get your hands dirty by learning to program, too? Would a new project manager earn more credibility from their software engineering colleagues if they knew their peer was trying to learn JavaScript on the side? It’s highly likely. At the very least, the person learning how to code would gain a new level or respect for the work of their team and would understand why interruptions of any kind while writing code can be so frustrating – prompting them to think twice before “popping by” for a “status update” from an engineer in code mode.

The Payoff: Learning a new skill can open up the door for new opportunities and responsibilities at an existing job, in addition to laying the foundation for an entirely new position. There’s also the relationship-building benefit of shared experiences and interests with colleagues who you can “speak the language” with. Some developers struggle when it comes to working effectively with non-tech colleagues and you’ll be in the unique position to help bridge that gap between highly technical and non-technical coworkers. 

Launching on a shoestring budget

Perhaps you’ve found yourself laid-off from an employer you’d been with for years. There’s no better time to pursue a long-held dream of being your own boss or small business owner. In the digital economy to be competitive, you’ll need a website. The cost for a website won’t be a major concern when you’re willing to learn the skills necessary to build and launch the website yourself. In fact, most of what you’ll need to know can be learned online for free.

The Payoff: Launching a new career or business with minimal upfront costs, saving money in vendor fees by doing the work yourself, and learning a valuable skill that can easily be transferred? Sounds like a good deal to us. And if you decide to hire vendors to manage your website and keep it performing and looking its best, you’ll be better equip to work with them.

Developing the next big idea

Let’s say you have an idea for an app. You’ve done your homework and can’t find anything else that does what you’re envisioning, but lack the technological prowess to bring it to life and don’t have several thousands of dollars lying around to make it happen. There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t bootstrap it and produce a MVP (minimum viable product) yourself. If you’ve got the time and the patience, you’ll be on the way to deploying your app in no time.

The Payoff: Developing the next big idea that *could* net you millions in sales and launching a new product or venture while saving money in vendor fees by doing all or most of the work yourself, and learning a valuable skill that can easily be transferred has its allure. It’s no wonder so many apps are flooding the market each year. And with all the tools available now to help you build & launch your product, it’s easier than ever before to bring an idea to life.

Lucrative career with a degree

For individuals looking to get into a career that pays well and doesn’t require a college degree for most positions, learning how to code and become a developer can be a viable option. There are hundreds, if not thousands of online tutorials, boot camps and other free or nearly free resources that can help you develop the skills to get you into a well-paying job without breaking the bank. The rising cost of education shouldn’t be a barrier preventing you from getting into a rewarding job, and with certain areas of programming it isn’t. It just takes your time and dedication.

The Payoff: Getting into a career with high growth and earning potential, saving money on education loans/costs, learning a valuable skill that can pave the way for future success is something more traditional and non-traditional students and career-changers are considering and with good reason. Jobs for developers and other associated professions is growing exponentially with no slow-down in sight.

Not Learning to Code is Bad Advice

The five scenarios above are just a few example of why putting forth the effort and learning how to program can pay off. While coding may not be for everyone, a majority of people will never have the opportunity to decide for themselves if they listen to advice that steers them away from it altogether.

Though coding itself may not come as easily to some as it does others, it’s worth your effort to give it shot. If you’d like to get started on learning how to code, check out this post where we’ve listed some online resources to help you on your way.

After reading the piece published by Fast & Co. we couldn’t help but to be reminded of a famous quote from Albert Einstein who was a life-long learner:

“Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” ~ Albert Einstein