Why You Should Learn to Code Even if You Don’t Work in Tech

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portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

Published September 19, 2022

Edited by Madison Hoehn
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It's no secret that tech skills are in high demand. And a surprisingly small number of people know how to code. According to a 2021 Developer Nation survey, there are an estimated 26.8 million software developers worldwide — a number projected to double by 2030. In the U.S., the tech sector employs around 9 million people, according to the 2022 State of the Tech Workforce by CompTIA.

Only a fraction of the population can code. And even if you don't work in tech, learning to code can pay off in major ways. Why should you learn to code? In addition to all the tech jobs that use coding, understanding programming languages can pay off professionally and personally. A growing number of roles benefit from coding knowledge even outside of tech. So here are the top reasons why you should learn to code.

Reasons Why You Should Learn How to Code

Here's why you should learn to code: Even if you don't work in tech, coding can improve your job prospects and add valuable skills to your resume. It can also change the way you think and open career paths for jobs that use coding.

Your Job Application Will Stand Out

Hiring managers in tech look for coding skills. Many tech job applications come with a long list of required programming languages. But even outside of the tech sector, listing programming languages on your job application can help you stand out.

That's because knowing how to code demonstrates an ability to learn new technologies and showcase strong problem-solving skills. Even in fields that do not directly require coding, programming indicates transferable skills.

You can also stand out by linking your coding skills to your field. If you work in healthcare, explain how coding allows you to analyze large datasets effectively. If you're in graphic design, link your programming skills to your ability to communicate information visually. Hiring managers will likely take notice of your skillset.

It Can Boost Your Career

In almost any field, coding skills can boost your career. That's because an ability to code can take your career to the next level. Consider a business analyst who learns how to code. They can open new opportunities, including in business analytics and data science, with coding skills. Or coding can help them stand out at their next annual review.

Learning to code can mean qualifying for promotions or specialized roles. If you're a teacher, learning to code can help you move into specialized teaching roles or become an instructional technology specialist.

Freelancers who learn to code can broaden their job prospects and take on higher-paying work. Get creative about how coding can benefit your career — and think strategically about which programming language to learn.

It Can Enhance Your Skill Set

Employers look for all kinds of technical and people skills — also known as hard and soft skills. And when evaluating resumes, hiring managers want to see evidence of your skill, not simply a bullet point that says "strong problem-solving skills."

Adding a programming language to your skill set can demonstrate your abilities. It can also complement your current knowledge. If you work in a people-focused career, learning to code can strengthen your reasoning and logic skills. And if you're in an analytical field, coding can sharpen your ability to work with data.

Consider your strengths and areas for growth. A programming language can add a valuable tool to your skill set and demonstrate your commitment to learning.

You May Be Able to Enter the Tech Industry

The tech sector offers above-average salaries and strong demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the computer and IT field will add 682,800 new jobs between 2021-2031. And these occupations report a median annual salary of $97,430.

It's easy to see why many people want to move into tech. But what's the best programming language to learn if you want to pursue tech jobs? Many recommend learning Python first. With a more readable syntax, it can be easier for new learners. Plus, Python prepares developers for careers in software development and data analysis.

Before learning your first programming language, consider which languages best fit your strengths and career goals. And then try out a few different options to learn to code. Some people learn best from online classes or tutorials, while others prefer formal training programs.

It Can Help You Understand Other Aspects of Tech

Technology increasingly influences every area of life. And understanding programming languages can give you insight into other areas of tech.

Studying a programming language may increase your understanding of how the tech sector operates. You'll be able to identify applications for tech skills and see the impact of coding in diverse fields. And you'll have a better understanding of the pros and cons of coding in different industries.

In addition, your increasing tech literacy will make it easier to learn new technical skills. Many programmers know multiple languages and constantly refresh their knowledge. Staying on top of tech trends will keep your knowledge current.

Your Way of Thinking Will Change

Learning to code changes the way you think. Coding requires strong logical thinking abilities and the patience to solve problems.

Programmers communicate commands to computers, and they often need to think creatively when coding. If a section of code fails, programmers need to identify and correct the problem. Coding also requires innovation. To achieve a particular result, you'll need to try several possibilities to reach your goal.

Whether you use coding in your job or treat it as a hobby, learning a programming language will test your cognitive skills and shape how you approach problems.

Non-Tech Jobs That Use Coding

Business Analyst — Business analysts evaluate data and recommend ways to reduce inefficiency and boost profits. Coding skills help business analysts manage large datasets and produce data visualizations.

Market Research Analyst — Market research analysts evaluate data on consumer demand, pricing strategies, and competitors. Data analysis and modeling using coding can help market research analysts evaluate larger datasets and draw data-backed conclusions.

Health Informatics Specialist — The field of health informatics relies on data analysis. Health informatics specialists, also known as health information specialists, evaluate patient data and health outcomes. Programming knowledge helps them analyze data and improve patient care.

Project Manager Project managers oversee complex projects from the development through the completion stage. The ability to track data and analyze progress benefits project managers. Coding skills can help them stand out, particularly in certain industries.

Designer — Graphic designers, UX/UI designers, and other designers benefit from coding knowledge. In the visual arts, the ability to represent data graphically helps professionals. So do data analysis and web design skills.

Frequently Asked Questions About Learning to Code

What skills do you need for coding?

Learning a programming language requires several skills. First, you'll need patience. Coding is a different way of thinking, and it requires time to learn how to communicate effectively with programming languages.

Second, you'll need strong logic and analytical skills. You can write lines and lines of code, but a single syntax error can keep it from running. That means you'll need to look closely at the structure of your code to understand it.

And finally, you'll need exceptional problem-solving skills. Most programmers agree that debugging their code takes as much time — or more — as writing code.

Are coding jobs in high demand?

Yes, coding jobs benefit from high demand. According to data from the BLS, computer and information technology occupations are projected to grow 15% between 2021 and 2031. That translates into over 682,800 new jobs. And growth will be even faster in certain fields.

The BLS projects jobs for information security analysts to grow 35% during the same period, while jobs for software developers are projected to grow 25%. Even outside of tech, coding knowledge can help professionals in diverse roles that require data analytics, data visualization, or information management skills. Learning to code can add a valuable skill set to your resume.

Where can I learn to code?

If you want to learn to code, you can have options. Many start with free coding classes offered online. Short tutorials or longer online courses offer a project-based approach to coding.

You can also enroll in a coding bootcamp. These intensive programs, which typically take 12-24 weeks, train learners in coding languages like Python and JavaScript. Finally, colleges offer coding classes. You can enroll in a tech certificate program or earn a computer science degree to gain programming skills.

Feature Image: vitranc / E+ / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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