How to Decide if Coding Is Right for You

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portrait of Kasia Kovacs
by Kasia Kovacs

Updated June 6, 2022

Edited by Giselle M. Cancio
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Compared to the history of humanity, coding remains a relatively new concept.

Historians generally agree that the first computer programmer was 19th-century mathematician Ada Lovelace. Coding existed for the next century, even if it wasn't widely practiced.

Over the past few decades, the computer programming industry has exploded.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over 185,000 people work as computer programmers in the U.S, as of 2020. And nearly 200,000 work as web developers and digital designers.

The industry appeals to people across many demographics, including career switchers. Although anyone can learn to code, a career in the field doesn't always fit everyone's goals and lifestyles.

If you're wondering whether you should learn to code, this guide can help you decide.

Decision tree to help people decide whether a coding career is right for them. Analytical people who are interested in technology and enjoy problem-solving, coming up with new ideas, and thinking outside the box would likely enjoy coding.

Things to Consider Before Learning to Code

Before jumping into coding, dedicate some time to reflect on the following questions. Your answers can offer insight into whether coding is the right pathway for you.

Do You Enjoy Problem-Solving?

When it comes to coding, problem-solving isn't just an occasional occurrence. Coders need to think critically and sometimes solve complex problems regularly as part of their jobs. Coding could be an enjoyable and exciting career path for individuals who enjoy these challenges instead of becoming frustrated by them.

Are You Curious About Technology?

Coders' curiosity about technology is often one of the motivating factors in their careers. Learning coding teaches them about the building blocks of computer programs. Coders want to know how code creates programs, operating systems, and mobile apps. But they also remain curious about how code inspires innovations within the tech world.

Are You Interested in Technology?

Because of coders' vested interest in tech, they want to be a part of the industry. That interest is vital —individuals who don't particularly find themselves concerned with programs, computers, and apps may struggle to find the sustained motivation to stay in coding over a long period of time.

Do You Consider Yourself to Be Creative?

Although coding may seem like a dry series of letters and numbers to some, coders know that their work is building a final project. Creativity in coding can build unique visual design projects, sound and visual art, and projection mapping. So while a logical mind is essential for coding, creative thinking can also generate innovative coding.

Are You Self-Motivated?

Many coders work independently, carrying out their jobs with numbers, letters, symbols, and equations on a screen day in and day out. This type of lifestyle doesn't appeal to everyone. But even those who enjoy working in this manner need self-motivation and discipline to help them progress in their work.

Signs Coding Might Not Be a Good Fit

Coding is not necessarily for everyone. If one of the following points rings true to you, then you might consider holding off on learning coding.

Satisfied With Career Path

Many adults pursue coding because it allows them to change their jobs to find a more satisfying career. However, if you already find yourself fulfilled with your work, coding may not be the best fit. If you're still curious about coding, you can always pick it up as a hobby.

Not Interested in Technology

Code essentially makes up the ingredients of computer programs, mobile apps, websites, and many other tech products. People who feel uninterested in technology may lack the passion for programming that could help them excel in the field. People without an interest in technology can still learn how to code as a hobby, but they might not turn coding into a career.

No Interest in Building Apps or Websites

One secret to success involves having pride in one's work. Programmers who design an app or website feel this sense of satisfaction when they complete their work. However, people who lack an interest in building apps and websites may not feel as invested in the final product.

Benefits and Challenges of Learning Code

Benefits

  • Job opportunities for web developers: The BLS projects the number of jobs for web developers and digital designers to increase by about 25,500 jobs from 2020-2030 —that's an increase of 13%.
  • Salary potential: As of May 2020, web developers and digital designers earn median annual salaries of $77,200, BLS figures show. Computer programmers make even more, with median salaries of $89,190.
  • Flexible location: Because coders work at their computers, many people in the industry work remotely. This appeals to people who want to work from home, do not want to relocate, or even prefer a more nomadic lifestyle.

Challenges

  • Job opportunities for computer programmers: In contrast to the growing field of web development, computer programming may see a decrease in job openings over the next decade. The BLS projects the number of jobs for these professionals to decline by 10% from 2020-2030, with the industry losing about 18,000 jobs.
  • Time to learn coding: Learning coding takes time. While you can find some courses and coding bootcamps that last only a few weeks, mastering programming typically requires at least a few months.
  • Cost to learn coding: Coding education is a monetary investment as well. Although coding programs usually don't cost as much as a college degree, many coding schools do not offer scholarships or grant only small financial awards.

Myths About Learning Code

Frequently Asked Questions About Coding

Can anyone be good at coding?

Although anybody can learn coding, not every person excels in programming. But that's not because people don't have the potential to become good. Instead, whether a person succeeds usually depends on their motivation to keep learning and practicing, even if it becomes difficult.

For that reason, some people prefer structured courses and coding bootcamps instead of self-taught coding programs. Bootcamps keep programming students on track, and the teacher gives personalized support to learners when they find themselves stuck on a challenge.

Students in bootcamps and courses also get the added benefit of learning along with their classmates —all of these factors can help aspiring coders push through and find success.

How do you know if you are bad at coding?

You might assume that you are "bad" at coding if you have trouble understanding a programming model or remembering certain coding or commands.

Everyone encounters challenges with programming.

The solution involves practice and a willingness to confront the difficult parts of the job without giving up. Remember that coding involves critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which can also help you improve.

That said, if you struggle with programming and you do not feel interested in rising to the challenge, then you're not necessarily bad at coding —but maybe coding isn't the right career path for you.

Is programming the right career for me?

Consider your career goals and interests. Coding could be a good option If working in technology appeals to you. If you enjoy thinking logically to solve puzzles and engaging in the creative side of your mind to develop new programs and apps, then coding could be an ideal career.

If you do not enjoy working with computers and become impatient when encountering problems, then you may find yourself more anxious than enthusiastic in a coding job.

If you feel unsure, you can enroll in a coding bootcamp or course to discover whether you enjoy programming and feel up to the challenge.

Is coding a stressful job?

Coding can certainly seem stressful at times, but every job comes with stressful moments.

Stubborn bugs that arise while coding can seem frustrating, which is why problem-solving skills and the ability to stay patient in high-stress situations remain important.

Deadlines can also seem stressful. These may result in a few days with long hours as programmers work to turn their projects in on time.

That said, programmers can take steps to reduce their work anxiety. If they get a full night's sleep, stay healthy with exercise, and avoid highly caffeinated drinks, these can help them tackle their stress.

Feature Image: Luis Alvarez / DigitalVision / Getty Images

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