Pros and Cons of Learning to Code
In a world that is beginning to rely more and more on the Internet, knowledge of coding is a highly sought-after skill for many employers in the digital industry. With excellent entry-level salaries and a plethora of benefits to offer, many people wonder: what are the pros and cons of learning to code?
There are many advantages of learning to code, such as gaining a better understanding of technology and stimulating your brain activity. However, learning to code also comes with some drawbacks. You’ll spend a lot of time looking at screens, and must essentially become fluent in a new language.
Whether or not you should learn how to code depends entirely on your current skills and interests, as well as your future plans. Keep reading to learn more about the good, the bad, and the ugly of coding, as well as the professional opportunities it offers.
What is Coding?
Coding generally refers to the process of creating the necessary framework for computer or Internet-related components, including:
- Mobile and desktop applications
In today’s world, as e-commerce companies are rapidly growing, the demand for coders and other IT or computer systems experts is growing, as well. Code is absolutely everywhere. It is what makes all of our favorite websites function properly, and nearly every company these days relies on it in order to grow and improve their sales. In a way, this means that code essentially drives the global economy!
If you’re not familiar with coding, you may be surprised to hear that it is not defined by one single language. There are a variety of coding languages you may choose to learn, and different professionals within the industry work using different languages. Some popular coding languages that you may have heard of include:
Each language opens the door to different career opportunities, and many of these languages overlap with each other. Some are easier to learn than others, so if you’re new to coding, you might want to begin with one of these languages:
Do you need to test the waters before investing a lot of time and money into learning how to code? If so, don’t worry! There are many free beginner courses available online, and experts in the industry may offer their advice to novice programmers. However, it’s important to remember one thing – learning how to code is not an easy task, and you need to be willing to put in the time and effort if you want to become fluent enough to make a career out of coding.
Pros and Cons of Learning to Code
Now that you have an idea of how much time and effort it’ll take to learn a coding language, you might be wondering if it’s worth it! The truth is, there is no right or wrong answer. It all depends on how you personally feel, but knowing the pros and cons can help make the decision easier.
Pros of Learning How to Code
Learning how to code can open up a world of professional opportunities and a huge array of additional benefits, but whether or not the pros will outweigh the cons is entirely up to you. Let’s start by discussing the positive side of learning a coding language.
You Will Have a Better Understanding of Product Development
Learning even just a bit of a coding language can help you better understand the product development world, and give you the skills to assess whether or not a programmer you’re considering working with is reliable and honest.
You’ll be able to accurately estimate how much time and work it will take to complete a specific project, and if something breaks on your website, you may be able to dig into the code and figure out what’s wrong without calling in help.
Even if you only have a basic understanding of the coding world, you can still reap the rewards in this aspect. It doesn’t matter if you’re not completely fluent – just a general idea of a programming language will help you better assess and evaluate different parts of your website.
Learn How You Can Start Building Prototypes
If you’re a creative person with dreams of founding your own start-up business, you’ll need to learn how to code in order to show people a prototype. These days, a huge percentage of technology-driven investors want to actually see a prototype of what you’re going to create, instead of just hearing about your plan, before they promise you any money. If you have the skills that are necessary to build this prototype, you will increase the chances of your idea becoming reality.
Gain the Skills that are Relevant to Today’s Job Market
As we’ve discussed, the digitization of business is increasing on a global scale. Because of this, coding and other similar skills are very relevant to the job market of today, and IT jobs are almost always very competitive. If you’re looking to get a job in the computer or IT industry, the more you know about coding, the better. Becoming fluent in a coding language could be the edge you need to beat out the competition and secure a high-paying job.
Increase Your Chances of Admission into Competitive Programs
If you’re considering applying for admission into a STEM-based college degree program, even knowing the basics of how to code can help make your application stand out from others. An understanding of even one coding language gives you a good foundation for computer science, and will make it easier for you to learn the other programming languages required for your degree. Once you have a good grasp on one type of code, it’s much easier to adapt to others.
Develop Your Senses of Logic and Creativity
At its core, coding focuses mainly on problem solving. Problem solving requires a person to be both logical and creative, so learning a coding language will give you the ability to problem solve in whatever industry you end up in, whether that’s IT-related or not.
Coding activates both right and left brain activity, which means it helps to develop your brain as a whole. In addition, it’s been proven to not only improve your intuitive thinking, but also to exercise your imagination, which are skills that come in handy in all walks of life. Creating something new and making it work is no doubt beneficial to both your brain and your self-esteem, and coding is the perfect way to do that.
Expand Your Understanding of Technology in General
Many business professionals do not have the skills to solve the technology-based problems that come up on a daily basis. When their websites or other software in the office breaks, they have to call in outside experts and pay them a hefty fee to find and solve the problem. However, business owners with a basic understanding of coding can often solve these problems themselves without any expensive, outside help.
In addition to solving web-based issues in the office, you’ll also gain the valuable skill of being able to read code and know exactly what it means. This means you’ll not only know exactly how to fix a broken website or app, but you’ll know how to do things like develop an app for your business from scratch, as well.
Find a More Flexible Job
Since most programming work is done entirely on the computer, many coding jobs offer benefits unique to this industry, such as the opportunity to work completely remotely or make your own hours! Combine these benefits with a higher-than-average level of income, along with the excellent healthcare and saving benefits this career tends to offer, even at the entry level, and you may land nothing short of a dream job.
Cons of Learning How to Code
While having knowledge of a coding language can bring many positive factors into your life, the process of learning to code is not all sunshine and rainbows. Essentially learning a new written language is a long, tedious process, and not everyone is up for the challenge it poses. Now, we’ll discuss the downside of taking on this immense task.
It Won’t Guarantee Success
A lot of people want to learn how to code because they believe it will automatically give them the edge they need to be successful in the tech industry and land a high-paying job in Silicon Valley, or to get into a STEM program at a highly-competitive college or university. However, this is not always the case, and it definitely should not be the deciding factor when it comes to learning a programming language.
Because so many people have this mindset, the market has become quite saturated with talent. There’s not the same demand for applicants with basic coding skills as there used to be, so you need to really delve into coding and become an expert in order to gain the professional advantage that you’re looking for.
Your Future Career May Not Require a Lot of Coding
You might be considering learning how to code because you have dreams of becoming a successful start-up founder. While the early work you do to found your start-up business may involve a lot of programming, most CEOs and founders don’t do a lot of coding once their company has been established.
While it will come in handy in the early stages, your future company will likely have a team of programmers to do all of the “dirty work” for you. As CEO, your job will likely have more to do with management and creating ideas that your team will bring to life. While coding will still be a valuable skill for you to have, it may not be worth it if your goals are more managerial. Instead, consider working with a partner who has a true passion for programming to achieve your goals.
Learning to Code May Become Tedious
In many ways, learning a coding language is similar to learning a new language. When you first begin your journey, you might become easily frustrated or bored. You’re likely to make a lot of errors, some of which will not be evident at first. If you spend hours and hours coding a page, only to realize once you’re done that something has gone wrong, you’ll have to go back through a huge chunk of code to figure out exactly what happened.
Before you make the choice to learn a coding language, make sure that you do your research. Some languages are easier to learn and better for beginners than others, and some of the best beginner languages will actually show where in the code an error was made. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew, so be sure to keep these things in mind:
- Learning to code can be monotonous
- It will require a lot of reading and practice
- You will have to dedicate a significant amount of time to it, as if you were learning a new spoken language
If you understand the things listed above, but are still ready to take on the good, the bad, and the ugly of learning how to code, it may be a good decision for you to make. However, you should make sure that you have plenty of free time to dedicate to the task, and it might be helpful to consider finding a guide or mentor to help you along the way.
You’ll Spend a Lot of Time Looking at Screens
As you probably already know, learning a programming language means that you will spend a lot of time looking at screens. While this is a necessary part of life these days, excessive amounts of screen time has been linked to many health issues, including:
- Eye strain
- Sleep problems
- Headaches and migraines
- Chronic neck and back issues
If you do choose to take on the task of learning how to code, be sure to make time to get up and stretch, get outside, and walk around at least once every couple of hours.
Should I Learn How to Code?
When you’re trying to decide whether or not to learn how to code, there is one simple question you should ask yourself: “is this something I have a genuine interest in?” Coding takes years of commitment to master, and it’s not something you should take on just because you feel that you’re “supposed” to do in order to succeed in your chosen career path.
Many people find genuine enjoyment in learning how to code, but others are just looking for a skill that will translate into future monetary gain. If you’re in it for the latter reason, make sure that you’re committed and it’s a risk you’re willing to take. Simply knowing how to code won’t guarantee success in the long run, and is not guaranteed to pay off financially.
There are a lot of skills in demand within the tech industry, and coding is only one of them. Make sure that you’re learning to code for the right reasons and that you truly have the time, effort, and interest to do so well.
What Can You Do with Your New Coding Skills?
You have decided that you have the talent, interest, and time to devote to learning a programming language. So, what can you do once you master these skills? There are a ton of professional opportunities that require knowledge of different coding languages, so knowing what languages your dream job will use may help you decide which one to learn.
Software Application Developer
The main duty of a software application developer is to design computer applications and programs. They must also be able to analyze a client’s needs, then design and develop a program that meets these needs. Should anything go wrong, they need to know how to identify, report, and solve these problems.
Typically, employers require that applicants have at least a Bachelor’s degree to be considered for a job as a software application developer. However, some more competitive employers prefer applicants who have a Master’s degree. To make your application stand out over the competition, it helps to have knowledge of one or more of the following coding languages:
As previously mentioned, these coding languages are some of the easiest to learn. If you can master them, you might just be able to land a lofty job as a software application developer! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for this position was $110,000 as of 2020, with 22% expected growth in the industry over the next 10 years.
Web developers are the people who design the look and function of a client’s website. As a web developer, you will need to be able to intently listen to each client’s needs, then use your knowledge to create the best website possible.
Web development positions typically do not require as high of a level of education as others in the field, with most employers requiring anything from a high school diploma to a Bachelor’s degree. Most companies want applicants to have at least an Associate’s degree, and knowledge of the following coding languages may help:
Again, these languages are relatively easy to learn, and if you’re able to secure a position as a web developer, you may enjoy an average salary of $77,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This career also has a promising projected growth of 8% over the next 10 years, so there should be no shortage of available positions.
Database administrators are typically tasked with problem solving. This means analyzing and recovering information, as well as securing, organizing, and storing large amounts of data.
Most employers prefer that data administrator applicants have a Bachelor’s degree in an information technology or other computer-related field. You’ll also be required to work with several different programming languages, including:
- Oracle PL/SQL
If this position sounds like a good fit for your skills and interests, you’ll be happy to hear that the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the 2020 median salary at just under $100,000, with an expected job growth of 10% over the next ten years.
Computer programming is probably the most well-known position in the coding world. Their main task is to write and test all the different code that allows different applications and programs to function, as well as to update and expand existing programs. They may also need to test programs for any problems and find solutions. The duties of computer programmers sometimes overlap with those of software developers, so the two often work closely together.
Employers usually prefer that applicants have a Bachelor’s degree to gain employment as an entry-level computer programmer, although some companies will accept applicants with an associate’s degree. Computer programmers work with a few different programming languages, most often the following:
- Microsoft C#
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the median pay as of 2020 for computer programmers at $89,000. However, the outlook for computer programmers in the United States isn’t as positive as it is for many other jobs in the field.
Since this is a job that people can do entirely remotely, companies are beginning to outsource this work to people in other countries in an effort to save money. Because of this, the amount of available positions is expected to decline by 9% over the next 10 years.
Computer Systems Engineer
Computer systems engineers, also sometimes called computer systems architects, are responsible for solving the different problems that arise for clients, including:
- Network concerns
- Systems administration issues
- Complex application problems
Computer systems engineers work closely with clients, developers, and other stakeholders in their company to determine the best solutions to any problems that come up. Because these professionals work closely with these important people in the industry, it’s ideal for anyone who is both business-minded and technologically-savvy.
Typically, employers look for applicants who have at least a Bachelor’s degree, but some companies prefer to hire someone with a Master’s degree. In addition to having the proper degree, it helps to be familiar with the following coding languages:
ONet OnLine estimates the median wage for computer systems engineers at $92,000, with an estimated ten-year growth in positions of about 6%. If this sounds like a job you’d be interested in, consider learning one of the coding languages listed above to help your application stand out from others.
Software Quality Assurance Engineer
Software quality assurance engineers’ work begins at the inception of software development. They design tests for programs and applications to make sure they run correctly, document any defects that need to be addressed, and create user manuals for the final product.
Usually, employers will require that applicants have at least a Bachelor’s degree to be considered for a position as a software quality assurance engineer. However, some companies are more competitive and prefer applicants that have a Master’s degree. Knowledge of the following coding languages is a bonus:
As a software quality assurance engineer, ONet Online estimates that you’ll earn a median pay of $110,000 per year. With 22% growth in the industry expected over the next 10 years, there should be no shortage of these positions to choose from!
Business Intelligence Analyst
Business intelligence analysts often work behind the scenes to gather facts about the different trends in the software world in order to determine the best course of action for their clients. Programming skills are absolutely necessary for this position, but in-depth knowledge of many different coding languages is not. It’s a great career path for anyone who enjoys coding but doesn’t want their entire career to revolve around programming.
While a Bachelor’s degree is typically enough to satisfy employer requirements, some companies prefer that applicants have either a Master’s degree or post-baccalaureate certificate in a field related to the position. As a business intelligence analyst, you will be working with the following programming languages most often:
As a business intelligence analyst, you can expect to earn a median annual salary of $98,000, according to ONet Online. This career is also expected to have at least an 8% growth over the next 10 years, so it’s a safe career to start planning for.
In today’s digital age, coding is an excellent skill for people to learn. However, not everyone is ready for the commitment that comes along with essentially learning a brand new language. If you’re trying to decide whether or not to learn how to code, make sure to review and truly understand all of the pros and cons listed above.
Learning to code can be a very exciting and rewarding process, but only if your skills and interests align with the task. You should never get into programming strictly for monetary gain, as simply knowing the languages definitely does not guarantee all of the benefits listed above. Know yourself, and only take something on if you’re comfortable with the good, the bad, and the ugly.