Requirements for a Career in Coding

Are you a problem-solver with a knack for math? Consider a career in coding and discover everything you need to know to get started.
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  • You can qualify for an entry-level coding job with a certification or degree.
  • A graduate coding degree can increase salary potential.
  • Coding bootcamps and internships help you develop in-demand skills.
  • A strong coding resume emphasizes accomplishments and experience.

The computer science field offers many well-paying coding jobs, such as web developer, software application developer, and database administrator. The field also lets professionals specialize in one or more in-demand coding languages, such as Python or Java.

You can qualify for an entry-level coding job by earning a certification or undergraduate degree. A graduate degree may help you get a management-level position or start a career in academia.

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Plus, computer science internships let undergraduate and graduate students improve their resumes and network with employers.

What Are Common Coding Careers?

Learners earning a certificate or coding degree can explore many coding jobs, such as web developer. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that these professionals earned a median $78,300 annual salary as of May 2021.

Typical responsibilities include writing code for websites, collaborating with graphics designers, and creating prototypes to test for bugs.

The latest BLS data shows that software developers earned a median salary exceeding $109,020 in May 2021, nearly 240% more than what the average U.S. worker made. Day-to-day tasks include working with users to identify software needs, designing new systems, and troubleshooting problems.

The BLS reports that database administrators earned a median of $101,000 salary in 2021, and top earners made more than $150,000. These professionals create new databases, back up data, and install security software. Database administrators may specialize in hardware or software.

Other coding career paths for recent graduates include computer systems analyst. This job requires workers to design new software, oversee hardware installation, and advise managers on IT upgrades. BLS data from 2021 shows that analysts earned a median of $99,270 salary per year.

Management companies, computer systems design firms, and insurance and finance firms paid professionals even more.

What Degree Should You Get to Work in Coding?

Coding courses help new and experienced professionals learn the latest knowledge and skills. Options to qualify for entry-level coding jobs include earning a certification or associate degree.

Already have some experience? Consider earning a bachelor's or graduate degree to get one of the best-paying positions.

If you're already working, you should consider an online computer science degree or certification. These programs offer a more flexible learning style.

Certifications

Major software and hardware companies award coding certifications to inexperienced coders. Options include the Google professional workspace administrator certificate. This free certification features instruction in software administration fundamentals and data security best practices.

Coding certifications for experienced workers include the Google IT automation with Python professional certificate. This six-month certification emphasizes software automation, Git, and GitHub. Learners complete an applied learning project to combine new knowledge and skills.

People interested in networking coding jobs can turn to Cisco for certification. Cisco offers certification pathways at the associate, professional, and expert levels. Learners can customize their certification experience by choosing a specialization and paying at least $125 per exam as of October 2022.

Options similar to certification include coding bootcamps. These short, intensive classes prepare you for entry-level coding jobs. Make sure to check coding bootcamps' reputations before applying.

Associate Degree

Many associate degrees, such as information technology, prepare you for entry-level coding jobs.

Coding courses may include cybersecurity fundamentals, desktop support, and Oracle database operations. Programs may require students to earn a minimum "C" grade in all classes to maintain good academic standing.

An associate degree in computer science can prepare you for a coding career or a bachelor's completion program.

Typical classes include object-oriented programming and data structures, digital design fundamentals, and assembly language. Degree-seekers also complete many upper-division mathematics classes.

Students in the 2020-2021 school year paid just over $3,500 per year in tuition at two-year public schools, as per data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). This amount does not include education-related expenses, such as textbooks and transportation. If you're learning part time, you may qualify for federal financial aid by submitting the FAFSA annually.

Bachelor's Degree

Many well-paying coding career paths require at least a bachelor's degree in computer science.

This four-year program offers classes in software security, client or server development, and computational graphics and visuals. And a senior year capstone class lets you complete a project you can add to your portfolio.

Other relevant majors include software programming. Degree-seekers in this major master Python, SQL, HTML, and C++. Graduates who do not go on to a master's program can work as computer systems analysts, computer programmers, or software consultants.

The average cost of a bachelor's degree in 2021 exceeded $140,000, according to NCES data. However, many students paid much less out of pocket by earning scholarships or attending an in-state public college.

Master's Degree

Lucrative coding jobs, such as computer information and research scientist, require a master's degree.

The BLS reports that computer and information research scientists working in 2021 earned a median of $131,490 annual salary. Related careers include SEO specialist, database administrator, and computer network analyst.

Typical classes include the foundations of algorithms, advanced computer network security, and information assurance and security. Some programs feature specializations, like cybersecurity and big data systems.

You should expect to pay more per credit for a master's degree than for a bachelor's or associate degree. But you may save money by attending a university that charges per term. Plus, full-time and accelerated students often pay less per class than their part-time peers.

Doctoral Degree

Some experienced computer programmers work as postsecondary teachers. The BLS reports that these educators made a median annual salary exceeding $79,000 in 2021. Many postsecondary teaching jobs at four-year colleges require a doctoral computer science degree.

Prospective degree-seekers select from on-campus and online programs. Classes may include qualitative and quantitative research methods, futuring and innovation, and the principles of research methods and design. Research classes prepare students for their dissertations.

You can save on a doctorate in many ways, such as by teaching undergraduate classes or qualifying for federal grants.

Some employers also offer tuition reimbursement. Participants receive money for each class they pass if they agree to stay with their employer for a specific number of years after they graduate.

Coding Internships

Coding internships help students and recent graduates improve their resumes and network with potential employers. Major technology companies, including IBM, Google, and Intel, feature summer internship opportunities.

You can explore computer science internships by visiting online job boards and attending your school's on-campus or virtual career fairs.

Prospective interns stand out to employers in the same way they would as when applying to entry-level coding jobs. They need a polished resume and cover letter. Other strategies include performing a mock interview at their college's career center.

A typical coding internship involves shadowing experienced professionals and working with different software suites. Some companies require a project where interns work together to solve a problem. The final product shows off interns' coding, mathematical, and problem-solving skills.

Degree-seekers may want to complete more than one internship during their time in school. Why? Because it means you get to explore different coding career paths.

What to Include in Your Coding Resume

Applying to an entry-level coding career? You'll need a compelling resume to grab employers' attention.

You should emphasize the advanced classes and projects you've completed while in school. Describing these accomplishments shows what you may contribute as an employee.

Successful applicants display their desire for lifelong learning by featuring optional certifications and electives they took as undergrad or graduate students. Going above and beyond as a degree-seeker shows value, which is a plus for inexperienced workers.

A human resources specialist may spend only a few minutes or less reviewing a resume, meaning you should include only the most relevant information. Adding a summary or objective statement lets applicants grab a reader's attention and increase their chances of success as well.

Getting feedback is also helpful: Ask someone for a resume critique. This person may catch small grammatical mistakes or make other suggestions for improvement.

Frequently Asked Questions About a Career in Coding

Is coding a good career?

Yes, the BLS projects many coding jobs will grow significantly from 2021-2031.

For example, the BLS projects 23% growth in web development, 25% growth in software development, 9% growth in database administration, and 9% growth in computer systems analysis.

Coding jobs present more advantages than just high projected job growth — they provide pathways for professional advancement. You can earn an advanced degree or industry certification to qualify for a promotion or raise. Taking free online classes may also lead to positive career outcomes.

Does coding require math?

Undergrad and graduate computer programming degrees require high-level mathematics courses. Typical classes include calculus, discrete mathematics, algebra, and statistics. These classes complement what you'll learn in your computer science core curriculum.

Mathematics classes also help you develop the abstract reasoning skills you'll need on the job. Computer scientists and coders solve problems using critical thinking, a skill math classes emphasize. Many jobs require you to use math equations to solve problems.

High school students interested in coding careers can prepare for college-level math courses by taking honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Many colleges award credit for good AP scores.

Is learning coding hard?

You may find coding hard if you lack the skills needed for coding careers, like patience, problem-solving, and analytical thinking.

You might also want to reconsider a coding career if you don't have an interest in computer science. Without a passion for computer science, you may find it harder to learn to code.

But even if you have these skills and an interest in computing, you may find advanced coursework difficult. You should explore your school's academic services, such as one-on-one tutoring sessions, study groups, online guides, and library resources for assistance.

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