Coding is an in-demand skill used in almost every industry. Whether you envision a career as a programmer, a game developer or a data scientist, it all starts with code.
To help you envision what your trajectory might look like after you conquer HTML, CSS and everything in between, we’ve outlined some common career paths for motivated coders. We’ll look at some popular coding specializations, the salaries you can expect to earn, and the must-have skills that will get you hired.
Which Tech Career is Right for You?
Ready to change your career and join the world’s next workforce? At Thinkful, we’ve got your back with various tech programs to get you equipped with in-demand skills.
Careers in Coding
Coding (or computer programming) is an invaluable skill to have in this day and age. As you probably know by now, the answer to "what does a coder do" varies widely by industry. If you learn how to code, you’ll open the door to a wide choice of careers.
Some of the most popular coding-related positions available are:
Programmers create software that performs useful tasks. They have to ensure their code is bug-free and meets client expectations. Programmers usually work in large teams and are required to not only write code but read and update existing code.
Computer programmers are masters of Java, C#, C++, and Python.
Both front-end and back-end web development roles require coding skills.
Front-end developers are responsible for anything the user can see or interact with. This includes images, layouts, buttons, menus, content, and the entire look and feel of the site.
Back-end developers write code to implement site functionality. They’re responsible for managing databases, writing server-side code, the architecture of the system, and the server configuration.
Mobile App Developer
A mobile app developer is responsible for creating apps that run on smartphones and tablets.
This branch of development faces unique challenges. App developers need to provide the same user experience across multiple devices. Apps must work well on small screens without relying on a keyboard for user input.
A growing number of users prefer using mobile devices to desktop PCs. This has caused the demand for mobile developers to skyrocket in recent years.
Mobile app developers need to possess knowledge of objective C which is used traditionally to create iOS apps. Another commonly used programming language is Swift. For android devices, they must also have a working knowledge of Java.
Data science is one of the most trending fields in tech.
Organizations collect huge volumes of consumer information and need data scientists to organize and analyze this data. The main responsibility of a data scientist is to look for patterns and find useful conclusions. These conclusions can be used to make informed business decisions to improve products and gain an advantage over the competition.
The two programming languages essential for data science are Python and R. The most in-demand skills include SQL, Spark, Cloud, Amazon Web Services, JavaTensorFlow, Hadoop, and SAS.
This is a competitive field, but a dream career for those who enjoy gaming. Game developers use coding to transform ideas, drawings, and mechanics into engaging video games. It might already sound too good to be true, but you can top it off with a comfortable salary too.
Game developers need to know programming languages such as C, C++, Java, and C#. They’re also experts in frameworks like DirectX, OpenGL, Unity3D, and WebGL.
For developing mobile games, knowledge of Swift is needed for iOS and Java for Android games.
Typical Coding Career Path
One of the best aspects of the coding field is the almost unlimited growth potential. Here are some of the most common steps in a coder’s career journey, from first job to leader.
The primary role of a junior developer is to build quality, bug-free software that meets client expectations. You’ll use your knowledge of programming languages, algorithms, and databases.
As this is an entry-level position, you’ll spend a significant amount of time developing your coding skills. You may find coding certain applications a challenge, but this is your opportunity to learn the software development lifecycle.
After gaining three to four years of experience, you’ll now be proficient in writing complex software applications. You’ll have also gained more in-depth knowledge of databases and algorithms. Now you’re fully aware of the complexity of the entire software/application lifecycle.
A lead architect is responsible for designing the entire software system. You’ll oversee the day-to-day coding which is implemented by a team of junior developers. The technical skills gained with years of experience as a junior and senior developer help you take on the lead architect role.
The traditional way to move ahead in your career is to become a manager. Typical managerial roles include a product manager, developer manager, or a project manager. If you’re someone with strong leadership skills and can drive a team forwards, then this is the job for you.
As you go further up the career ladder, your job will involve less coding. You’ll take on a role where you’ll be heading a team of mid-level managers. Your job is to motivate and inspire your team towards achieving company goals.
What Do Coders Do?
Here’s a list of job responsibilities that a coder typically takes on:
- Write and develop in-house software programs that are fully functional and meeting company goals
- Write and test code to debug existing software and resolve any inconsistencies
- Develop software patches or fix bugs
- Solve problems by collaborating with teams and producing unique solutions
- Perform regular audits to identify any inefficiencies and resolve them immediately
- Raise any concerns with the manager and report issues
- Regularly write and update technical documents for internal and external reference
How Much Do Coders Make?
The coder’s salary average varies greatly by role and industry. Generally, however, the coder’s career path pays very well. According to PayScale.com and ZipRecruiter.com, this is the average annual salary of these various, coding-related, roles:
- Computer Programmer - $64,481
- Web Developer - $60,023
- Mobile App Developer - $73,128
- Data Scientist - $96,491
- Game Developer - $101,644
What Skills Do Coders Need?
There’s a variety of skills that coders need in order to do their job correctly. These can be divided into hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are those career-specific skills you need to perform the essential responsibilities of your job. Soft skills are more personality-based and determine how you work by yourself and with others.
Here are some of the skills that a coder needs to have.
- Programming languages (Java, Python, Ruby, etc.)
- Logical thinking
- Analytical mindset
- Attention to detail
How Do I Become a Coder?
If you’re interested in becoming a coder, there are a variety of paths you can take. Regardless of how you kickstart your career, however, you’ll essentially need a combination of educational training and real-world experience (or practice). These will help prepare you for the coding career path you’re looking for.
Education in Coding
Despite what many people think, coding isn’t difficult to learn. There are several free websites and online tutorials that can teach you. While some may find this approach useful, others can be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information available. Most free resources are unstructured and out-of-date, which can make this form of learning a challenge.
Another way to learn is to earn a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or a related subject. Degrees are the traditional approach used by many students and will provide you with a solid foundation. They take up to 4 years to complete and can cost up to $140,000 in tuition fees.
Like a degree, a certificate helps to demonstrate your skills in a particular area. Unlike a degree, however, getting a certificate can be much cheaper and less time-consuming to complete. There are many coding certificates you can take, so make sure you pick the one that best fits your budget and professional needs.
Courses or Bootcamps
If you don’t have 4 years to spare before starting your career, you might want to consider a coding bootcamp. These specially designed online programs teach you everything you need to kickstart your programming career. They make great educational options for those who want to get a good grasp of coding without going into huge amounts of debt.
Coding is a vast field where you can always improve your skills and knowledge. As such, we’ve put together a set of resources that will help you continue your journey into learning more about this exciting field.
If you’re interested in learning more about coding, check these resources out.
Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science
Perfect for: This book is perfect for those beginner programmers who are looking for an easy-to-understand introduction into the field. It offers not just a basic understanding, but an in-depth look into programming, covering topics like data collection and algorithm design.
Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
Perfect for: This is one of the most popular books for many professionals in the tech field. As such, coders will also benefit from reading this book. Whether you’re a web designer or a developer, knowing what gives a digital product a high level of usability.
Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship
Perfect for: Coders and aspiring coders who want to code in a clean and efficient manner. If you care about the work you do and are looking to improve how you write code, this book is definitely for you. You’ll learn the difference between clean code and bad code and how to avoid the latter.
As a coder, there will be a large range of tools and applications you will need to use in your day to day responsibilities. Here are some of the most important tools you need to have in your coding arsenal:
- A version control tool like GitHub
- An Integrated Development Environment tool (IDE) like Microsoft Visual Studio
- A hosting service provider like AWS
- A text editor tool like Visual Studio Code
- A project management tool like Trello
- A productivity and organization tool like Notion
If you want to learn more about coding, it’ll help for you to have an understand of some of the basic terms and concepts that are used in this field. Here are some important programming terms you need to know:
- Database: A digitally kept collection of data accessed through a computer
- Data Structure: A data storage, organization, and modification format
- Version control: Tracking and managing changes made to code
- Functions: Modules of code that accomplish specific tasks
- Arrays: A type of data structure that consists of a collection of elements (or variables)
- Loops: A programming structure that repeats an instruction into a specific result is met
- Algorithm: A series of steps for solving a problem
- Application Programming Interface (API): Allows to applications to interact with each other
Pursue a Career in Coding
If you had to pick one skill to boost your chances of landing a tech job, it has to be coding. In today’s digital world we’re surrounded by software. It’s become an essential part of our everyday lives. From smartphones to washing machines, computer applications are here to stay.
Learning how to code and understand programming languages can help you stand out from the crowd. Even in non-technical roles, coding can help you communicate with programmers and relate to their problems.
Fortunately, learning how to code is easier now than ever before. If you’re interested in pursuing the coder’s career path, consider applying for our Software Engineering bootcamp. We’ll teach you front-end development, back-end development, programming languages, and so much more of what you need to know to become a coder.
How do I become a Coder?
How much does a Coder make?
The salary of a coder can vary from $49,000 -$147,000 depending on the area of specialization and the complexity of coding. The salary expectations differ based on job type, requirement, location and years of experience. Skilled coders are rare and can often demand high salaries.
What's the job outlook for a Coder?
Coding as a career is a high demand job and provides huge opportunities. Coding is used in almost every industry. Coders with experience, skill and expertise can help tremendously in business growth, so we predict there will be steady growth in this field.
Learn to Code with Thinkful
Take the proven path to a high-income career with professional mentorship and support, flexible ways to pay, and real-world, project-based learning.