Celebrities Who Know How to Code
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If you ask kids today about their dream jobs, you may get an answer like YouTuber, singer, actor, or athlete. Unfortunately, these fame-focused career paths may not necessarily come with a wealth of job opportunities.
Instead, according to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many of the best jobs for the future involve technology and computer programming skills. For example, the BLS projects jobs for software developers will grow by 22% between 2019 and 2029 — more than five times faster than the average projected growth for all jobs over that period.
Of course, those jobs might not sound appealing to the average middle or high school student. But the truth is, learning how to code can get you started on an exciting career path.
In fact, many famous people have mastered coding,and the combined star power behind coding may help give the industry extra appeal. You can read about six celebrities who learned how to code below,and you might be surprised by some of the names on this list.
6 Celebrities Who Code
Celebrities of all kinds have learned computer programming skills. Actors, athletes, politicians, models, and musicians all recognize the value of knowing how to code.
Actor Ashton Kutcher may have played tech innovator and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in the 2013 biographical film "Jobs," but his knowledge of coding and computers isn't just make believe.
Kutcher studied biochemical engineering at the University of Iowa — a decision inspired by his twin brother who had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and underwent a heart transplant. Although Kutcher left school to pursue acting, the tech and coding skills he learned seem to have had an impact on him throughout his life.
Kutcher has backed Code.org and Hour of Code, initiatives that aim to help children learn to code. Kutcher is also known as an astute tech investor —he managed to invest early in Uber and Airbnb, so he seems to have a keen eye for spotting up-and-coming tech companies.
Former NBA star Chris Bosh made a name for himself playing for the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat, twice winning the NBA championship. He is also an 11-time NBA All-Star. Bosh made a wave in the tech world in 2013 when he wrote an op-ed in Wired entitled: "Here's Why You Should Learn to Code."
He wrote about his childhood in the 1990s, recalling that his mother ran a business called Computer Help and later worked for Texas Instruments. "[T]he world around me was spinning on an axis powered by varying patterns of 1s and 0s," he wrote, so it made sense that he joined a computer graphics club called WizKids in high school.
Bosh encourages kids to get into coding through Code.org, emphasizing how valuable the skill really is: "At this point, learning to code is simply about understanding how the world functions."
Democratic Senator Cory Booker — who represents New Jersey — may not be an expert in coding, but he has participated in Code.org's Hour of Code initiative by writing a few lines of code himself. Making coding education accessible is one of Booker's priorities.
"If computers are going to be such an important part of your lives – in ways that you and I can't even imagine right now – to understand the basics of computer science is so, so critical," he said in a talk with Hour of Code.
Before Karlie Kloss was a Victoria's Secret Angel and international supermodel, she was just a regular — albeit tall —girl from St. Louis, Missouri, who loved math and science. The modeling world swept her away from the Midwest at age 15, but in her twenties she wanted to learn more so she enrolled in a coding camp.
"I quickly came to understand that code is a superpower every young woman should be able to access," Kloss wrote in an editorial for Teen Vogue. "I also walked away from that first class with another lesson: There just aren't enough girls in code and tech."
Now Kloss is working to fix that problem. She founded Kode With Klossy in 2015 — a coding bootcamp for female-identifying and non-binary students ages 13-18. The bootcamp is free of charge, helping Kloss fulfill her mission of making coding education accessible to those who are underrepresented in tech.
Former "Saturday Night Live" star and current late night host Jimmy Fallon has a degree from The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. But the way he earned it was less than traditional.
Fallon began studying computer science in the mid-1990s, learning about the foundations of programming. He didn't quite complete his degree and eventually switched to communications. He dropped out with 15 credits to go. Over a decade later, the college granted Fallon an honorary degree.
Still, the introduction to programming stuck with Fallon. "If there's a computer-programming sketch, I will somehow make that happen," Fallon has said. In fact, he once brought Karlie Kloss onto his late night show along with two young programmers from her Kode With Klossy bootcamp to chat about coding.
It's perhaps no surprise that founding member of the Black Eyed Peas will.i.am values creativity. After all, his stage name is a wordplay of his legal name: William James Adams.
He considers coding to be a creative practice, too. When a journalist asked him whether music or coding was cooler, will.i.am didn't hesitate with his answer: "Coding. By about 10 times. A trillion times. It's the most creative space."
Although will.i.am didn't learn how to code until he was already famous, he's always been interested in technology. He's been known to visit the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT, where he's especially interested in robots and wearable tech.
"Music is cool," he said in an interview with the Guardian. "But I'm just so much more excited about technology."
These days, he's a sponsor of Code.org, and he's the president of the i.am/Angel Foundation, which provides scholarships, college prep, and other opportunities in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics education.
Frequently Asked Questions About Learning to Code
For many people, learning to code is worth it. As the celebrities above suggest, coding can open up educational and career opportunities for many people. Learning to code can also lead to jobs with above-average salaries in a growing field.
Professionals in computer and information technology jobs earned a median annual pay of $91,250 in 2020, according to the BLS. That's significantly higher than the median annual pay across all jobs in the U.S. — $41,950 that same year. Plus, the BLS projects the industry as a whole will grow by 11% from 2019-2029, which is much faster than average (4%).
Learning to code may be hard at first, depending on the language you learn. However, learning to code is a bit like learning a foreign language; you will become increasingly familiar with the language over time. Although it can be challenging, millions of people have learned computer programming skills, so it's certainly achievable.
You can find many places to learn how to code. Colleges offer computer science and programming degrees, and an increasing number of students now participate in coding bootcamps, which allow aspiring programmers to learn foundational coding skills in the space of a few months. Finally, you can find materials that can help you teach yourself about coding, too.