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.
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:
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.
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:
Augmented Reality and Virtual World Creator
Autonomous and Electrical Engineers
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 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.