If you’re looking for a guide to some of the practical as well as motivational work involved in getting into coding, you’ve come to the right place! Let this be your first look into a possible future in an industry that will, if it hasn’t already, soon influence most others. If you’re wondering about job security, possible earnings, which programming languages are most relevant, and where you can start learning about coding in 2019, we have answers!
Why should you get started with coding?
One of the first questions you likely want the answer to is: What’s the earning potential for a job in coding in 2019?
The answer depends on what types of coding you’re familiar with and how you end up putting them to work. It is not unreasonable to expect a salary ranging from around $89,000 to around $107,000, depending on the difficulty, present demand for, and possible applications of, the coding language in question.
Over the last few years, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth related to IT infrastructure, computer science, and coding contributed more to economic and wage growth than any other industry. Other reports indicate job growth in this sector to be as much as 12 percent higher than the average.
It’s not a surprise why: the proliferation of digital and connected technologies in every facet of our personal lives and business enterprises provides a vast amount of opportunity for coders everywhere to find an industrial application that suits their interests and specialties. And that brings us to our next question about getting started with coding:
What’s daily life like?
Coding is largely a self-directed career path. You could find work in-house at a company investing in its cyber-physical systems, its IT buildout, expanding its communication infrastructure, or engaging in large-scale data analysis and research. You could also do all of this as a freelancer or contractor. In either case, you’ll be required to keep your own pace, meet deadlines, and keep your skills sharp.
How to begin your self-directed coding education
You have some information now about what your life and livelihood might be like as a coder. But the most important question is: How and where can you begin your coding education? Yet again, this comes down to what you’re hoping to get out of the experience:
- “Hobbyist” coders who want to complete their own projects, such as programming video games and building websites, should begin with interactive online tutorials and perhaps some entry-level coding classes through a local university.
- If you are convinced, given the earnings potential and present industry growth, that you want to begin pursuing a career in coding, you will definitely want to get started on a more formal educational track.
Here’s a closer look at both options:
Online resources and tutorials for learning coding
Most people learn best through hands-on experiences. The cool thing about learning to code is that it can be quite self-directed, and can generally be performed anyplace you have access to an internet connection.
Here are just three of the top tutorial-style resources you’ll find online. Each one provides practical coding problems to solve in your spare time:
Before too long, you’ll probably also find your way to Stack Overflow, which is a community dedicated to coding. It’s a place for confident veterans as well as coding “newbies” to mingle, exchange questions, solve problems together, and generally help each other grow.
If you want to start even more simply, and really get a sense for whether or not you’re cut out to pursue a career in coding, give an online HTML tutorial a try and see if things “click.” HTML provides a foundation for coding basics and is still highly useful in its own right. From there, you can get more ambitious.
“Traditional” classes for learning coding
Opinions will differ widely about the best colleges and universities to attend if you want to learn to code. We’re not here to dispense college advice, although you will find a handful of names that consistently appear on “top 10” lists in media outlets related to business and technology, including the University of California at Berkeley, the Georgia Institute of Technology at Atlanta, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
When you cast an even wider net, you can find world-class coding schools in Russia, China and Vietnam as well. Coding and development is truly a global enterprise — and as surely as you can work as a coder anywhere, so can you study it anywhere.
What coding language should you learn?
Choosing your first programming language is a big deal! But don’t worry about getting it “wrong” — all of the programming languages you know by name are still relevant for one purpose or another, and still provide value for the folks who know them and, in turn, the folks who hire those folks.
You can trust us when we say the “mobile-first” hype is real, which means you’ll probably find yourself developing web or mobile applications for iOS and Android. That means learning Java and Swift are great places to start. Here are some other thoughts on how you might put some of the most common coding languages to work in your career:
- Python is widely considered a good starting point for beginners. It finds common use in academic, technical and scientific pursuits.
- C and C++ are two of the oldest (and still most versatile) programming languages. They’re used in everything from hardware and operating systems to video games, industrial control systems and much more.
As you can see, you’ll be working with programming languages that are close to machines and hardware — including in the rapidly-growing Internet of Things and the Industrial Internet of Things — as well as with coding projects that are closer to the user, such as web development, streaming technologies, data analysis, user experience (UI) and user interface (UI) and more.
Ready to get started?
With any luck, you’ve found this guide helpful if you’re considering starting a coding career in 2019. You’re off to a great start already! If you pursue this path, you have a bright future ahead of you as a specialist in any number of incredibly fascinating and soon-to-be indispensable branches of technology, including machine learning, software development, computer vision and much more that we haven’t covered here. Coding is an essential skill for breaking into a wide variety of industries that make use of cutting-edge technologies.
Remember, too, that coding is first and foremost a series of exercises in problem-solving. And your efforts in solving those problems aren’t always obvious, as with video games engines and UI design. But even when they’re not calling attention to themselves, coding projects do vital work in the background, such as feeding data into machine learning programs that help us engage in manufacturing and agriculture more efficiently or study climate patterns in greater detail.
Coding isn’t just one discipline, then: it’s a set of skills that you can parlay into a role in nearly any industry you desire. And since the supply of coding specialists hasn’t nearly caught up with current demand, you’re already ahead of the curve just by being here today. Lastly, if you’re looking to work as a programmer at a company and are currently interviewing, check out this coding Interview preparation guide.