It’s  one of the hottest skills you can have in today’s workforce. Knowing  how to code makes you an attractive option for many employers—and this  is only set to continue. As more and more businesses tap into the power  of all things tech, skilled coders are needed for everything from product development to software engineering to data analytics.  

If  you’re new to the world of coding and wondering what all the fuss is  about, let us help you break it down. This article takes closer look at  coding and the key knowledge and skills needed to launch you into the  field, as well as the best ways to learn code and the wide range of  careers it can prepare you for.  

What Is Coding?  

Coding  is what helps us create computer software, apps, and websites. All the  apps on your phone, the browser you’re working on, your social media  feed—it’s all been brought to life with the help of code. Similar to the way a cook follows a set of step-by-step instructions to create a  signature dish, a software or application code is a set of instructions  given to the computer to perform the desired function.  

While  most of us associate coding with computers, the truth is it’s not  limited to the computer world. It’s also used in a broad range of  electronic gadgets and appliances such as refrigerators, mobile phones,  and even microwaves. Code can be as simple as a one-line instruction.  For example, below is a one-line code in Python that prints the text  ‘Hello World’.  

print 'Hello, World!'

This is often the first lesson in coding tutorials. The  code can go up to several hundred, even thousands, of lines. It may  even call upon and embed a series of other codes. This type of complex  coding is what goes on behind the internet applications and appliances  we use day-in day-out.  

When  a widget on your phone describes the temperature and the humidity in  your area, as another example, there are complex network interactions  taking place. A series of computer programs interact with satellite  servers and encode a request for the data, which is decoded by the  servers there that interpret the query and respond with the desired  data. This is again encrypted and decrypted from lines of code to an  output that you and I can understand.  

Learn Coding Languages

The  various coding or programming languages used today have been developed  to help us interpret and communicate with the binary language (those  endless rows of 1s and 0s) at the foundation of all computer functions.  Programming languages translate instructions into a binary language that  a computer can understand. So if you want to excel in the field of coding, learning programming languages is a must.

Every  coding language has different features and syntax, but they also share  many common concepts. Among the range of programming languages  available, some of the popular ones are Ruby, Swift, JavaScript, COBOL,  Python, PHP, C/ C++, Visual Basic, and Perl. Different coding languages  are used for different purposes. For example, Ruby is used for  developing websites and mobile apps, JavaScript is used for front-end  development, and Python and PHP for back-end development. Some important  programming languages for successful coders to master include:

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): This is the standard language used to code web pages to show electronic information. It’s used to format all pictures, videos, and content available online.

Java:  Created by Sun Microsystems, Java is an object-oriented programming  language that uses English commands to create applications for single  computers or whole servers. It’s also popular for programming mobile and gaming apps in android operating systems.

Python:  Created by Guido Van Russom in 1991, Python uses simple English-like  syntax to script back-end actions for applications, user interface, and  operating systems. Many popular platforms and organizations like Google  and NASA use Python.

CSS (Cascading Styling Sheets):  CSS is a front-end coding language developed by Hakon Wium Lie, which  is used to specify a website's style. This includes things like the  layout of each page, background color, font size, and cursor appearance. C++:  Developed by Bjarne Stroustrup, C++ organizes and stores information in  bundles for more complex programs. Mozilla, Microsoft Office, and  Amazon use C++ for fast processing.

SQL (Structured Query Language): First launched by IBM researchers, SQL is a domain-specific coding language that streams information into a database. It’s extensively used in businesses to load, retrieve, and analyze text and numbers in servers.  

PHP (Hypertext Processor):  Developed by Rasmus Lerdorf, PHP is a coding language primarily for web  development. WordPress, a popular online portal for blogs, is written  in PHP. It can be helpful to develop an understanding of programming languages from a coder’s perspective before you decide which ones you’d like to learn first.

Master Coding Skills

Here is a list of key skills you need to have if you want to make it big in the world of coding:  

Language versatility  
We’ve  already discussed the importance of programming languages in the field  of coding. It’s important to have a good command over at least one  programming language as you get started. It’s not necessary to learn all  languages in a single go, but once you become proficient in one, you  can later learn other languages to further enhance your coding abilities  and job opportunities.  

Math and logical reasoning  
A  good understanding of math gives you the upper hand in coding, along  with logical reasoning abilities. Even though you don’t need to do hefty  calculations, a mathematical approach makes coding much easier. It also  helps you plan the functions that a code is expected to perform using  flowcharts and logic-based responses and loops.  

Problem-solving attitude
If you can work on having a problem-solving attitude along with critical thinking, you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to various problematic situations.

Communication skills and self-confidence
Almost  every sector that requires dealing with customers and peers will demand  good communications skills and an assertive personality. This can also  help create good impressions on recruiters during job interviews. It’s  not enough to rest on coding ability alone, so keep that in mind while  you’re toiling away mastering code.

Attention to detail
Getting into a habit of checking and double-checking your work will reduce the chances of errors while you write code. Attention to detail and a strong working memory  are skills you should emphasize to your potential employers. Learning  to code can be a tough journey. That’s why it’s so important to hear  from those who have been there and done that. Read about what you absolutely need to know about the road ahead in order to best prepare yourself.

Choose a Coding Career

Coding  is among the top 25 highest-paying jobs in the US, based on average  pay. Listings have grown exponentially on popular job-seeking websites  over the past three years, and many other top jobs now require some form  of coding skills. By 2022, computer programming jobs are expected to  see a 32% increase, meaning job seekers with good coding skills will be  high in demand.  Some of the popular coding career options to choose from include:  

Web Developer

Software Engineer

Augmented Reality and Virtual World Creator  

Autonomous and Electrical Engineers  

Database Administrator  

Computer Systems Analyst  

Software Quality Assurance Engineer  

Network System Administrator  

Learn to Code  

With  the growing need for computer professionals, software engineering  degrees have become ever popular. Universities across the US offer a  wide range of accredited programs that cater to the full spectrum of  student aims. Most degree programs are now affordable, with many  scholarships and funding opportunities. Depending on your specialization  or desired field, you can select a suitable degree to meet your needs. Most  students will need to decide between an on-campus degree or an online  program. If you’re looking for the full ‘campus life’ experience, a  regular college degree will be a likely option for you. This can also  help you to build a professional network as you’ll interact with your  classmates, renowned academics, and visiting faculty from the industry. However if working a full-time course would be a struggle around your hectic  schedule, then an online course offered by a top-ranking university  could be a good work-around.

Top Coding Universities

Most universities in the US offer associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s degrees,  and certification courses in computer science and software engineering.  Details about course structure, duration, admission criteria,  deadlines, and scholarship opportunities can be found on the university  websites. Some noteworthy programs in computer science include:    

Stanford University  

Stanford is a good option for students who are willing to get into active research in their early  years of study. Undergraduates in computer science programs can even  pursue lucrative opportunities such as internships and jobs in Silicon  Valley. The program CURIS run by the university provides students with  ample research opportunities throughout the summer.  

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The  programs offered by MIT are acclaimed worldwide for their brilliant  academic quality and gearing toward innovation. Students gain exposure  to high-tech scientific material, like mathematical computer theory and  robotics. Apart from the knowledge gained through classes, students are  encouraged to get actively involved in research, which can be hugely  beneficial as you work toward your chosen career.

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley’s Bachelor in Computer Science gives students a double benefit by preparing them for both long-term  research careers, as well as technical leadership in a variety of  industries. The program even has links to local industries giving students many opportunities to explore internship and research options.  

Learn to Code with Thinkful

Another  simpler and quicker way to learn code is through certification programs via online bootcamps and skill development websites. These are a great way to refine your programming skills, build a network, and even earn a higher salary.

Thinkful currently has one of the most popular online coding bootcamps. Our full-time web development program is specifically designed to get you coding in the most effective and immersive learning track. We even offer a job guarantee or a fee-refund scheme. For more information, please reach out to us.

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.

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