This post was last Updated on October 12, 2022 by Himanshu Tyagi to reflect the accuracy and up-to-date information on the page.
The tech industry is among the fastest-growing sectors in the world of business. Regardless of your niche, tech can be counted on to continue growing well into the next several decades.
If you’re already working in tech, chances are you have a high salary, a rewarding career path, and a bright outlook for the future.
Is it worthwhile to pivot into coding? While some people may be better off staying right where they are, there are compelling reasons to at least learn more about coding.
This article touches on some of the many benefits of knowing how to code in the 21st century.
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Why This Question?
Most people know that the tech sector is booming where jobs are concerned. Not only are they growing at an enormous clip and expected to continue doing so for as long as anyone reading this could hope for, but the salaries tend to be significantly higher than average.
With or without coding, jobs in the tech sector routinely bring in six figures. So why “pivot” into coding?
The reasons will depend very much on your circumstances — we will touch on that moment — but the overall answer is simple: coding jobs are in huge demand.
It’s a skill that most people in the tech industry can pick up with relative ease, which comes with great financial rewards and career advancement opportunities. Not every tech worker will be better off with coding, but most are at least well advised to consider the question.
Define pivot. People from a broad career spectrum are migrating into the tech niche. Their benefits are significant if they previously operated on a career path with low salaries and limited mobility.
However, such is not necessarily the case for people operating in the tech niche. On average, most tech jobs, including but not limited to those that utilize coding, enjoy high salaries alongside plenty of opportunities for advancement.
Combined, these factors reduce the odds that (as an example) a cyber security specialist who already makes six figures a year and has their own business will be interested in pivoting towards the development end of the spectrum.
However, there are circumstances where coding knowledge can be advantageous.
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Avoid Lateral Moves
As with any career choice, avoiding stagnation is key. You don’t want to make a lateral move, but you want to keep your options open to seize opportunities as they arise and continue growing in your career.
That cyber security specialist we mentioned earlier may not want to reinvent themselves just because coding is hot. However, if they want to get in on the developmental end of the cybersecurity spectrum, they will need programming knowledge
And for other entry-level tech careers — say IT specialists—coding has even more benefits. Not only is the knowledge itself valuable — opening the door to high-salary careers — but it is also directly in their wheelhouse, giving them the rare opportunity to put a little work in to grow existing skills in exchange for an enormous reward.
Coding for everyone?
It’s also worth keeping in mind that we are migrating into a cultural moment where at least some coding knowledge will be considered standard and fundamental — another skill everyone learns in school, like counting to ten in Spanish.
The reason for this is simple: tech, as earlier mentioned, is where so many of the new jobs will be. And yet many people leave their k-12 education behind with next to no knowledge about coding or other skills that will prepare them for a job in the tech industry. Having a basic understanding of coding and computer languages keeps doors open.
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Reasons to Learn Coding even If You Like Where You Are At
Also, understand that learning code doesn’t necessarily mean that you will immediately pursue a career in programming.
There are valid reasons for learning the languages and skills associated with coding, even for people who are happy with where they are now.
1. Easier Collaboration
People in almost any industry will be able to collaborate better with the tech department if they understand the basics of coding. This is never more true than for people already working in the tech industry.
Undoubtedly, no matter what you are doing, you collaborate with programmers from time to time. Understanding code basics allow you to articulate your goals and expectations clearly.
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2. You’re a Better Coworker
Businesses of every kind appreciate coding as a skill because it makes everyone on the team more flexible. Even if you can’t build a new computer program, the ability to do simple things, like update the company website, without calling in the developers is a significant boon.
From your employer’s perspective, it saves time and money. Your co-workers’ perspective makes it easier and more effective to work with. And on a personal level, it also opens the door to more opportunities.
Here’s some easy math: the more valuable you are at work, the better your compensation and advancement opportunities will be.
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3. It Looks Great on a Resume
For reasons similar to those described above, coding knowledge does look great on a resume. Employers, particularly those already in the tech industry, don’t necessarily need to use your coding skills directly at the moment they hire.
However, knowing that your skill set will empower you to be a flexible and versatile team member may be enough to get you jobs that you might otherwise not have been chosen for. Coding knowledge doesn’t box you into the developmental corner. It usually broadens your horizons, making you more marketable in the tech industry and beyond.
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4. It Furthers Your Options
Here’s the thing: you don’t want to be in a position of deciding you want a career change and then learning the skills to make it happen. Better late than never? Sure. But this scenario puts you in a challenging position.
Learning code, or any professional skill, for that matter, well enough to use it as a marketable job skill takes time. We are talking about months or even years of sitting in a job that feels stale while you wait on a degree or training certificate.
Granted: there are programming boot camps — six to eight-week programs — that show you the ropes in a matter of weeks. These programs are pretty effective and can translate into bankable career skills. However, they also require a lot of time, making them difficult to take on if you are already working a job.
And even excellent boot camp-style programs will require some follow-up and additional training. It remains an option, sure, but most people are better off picking up the skill slowly, at their own pace, not because they are desperate to open new doors, but because they simply want to add another skill to their tool belt.
5. Knowing when to pivot
There are situations where it is worth “pivoting” into coding, even if you already have a job in the tech industry. Below, we highlight some of these reasons.
6. You’re Feeling Bored
The tech industry is ranging enough that boredom needn’t ever occur. Any job can become monotonous if you work at it long enough, but learning new skills and growing in your profession is a recipe for alleviating this concern.
Moreover, coding tends to open the door to career paths that are sincerely interesting and fresh. The tasks you do as a programmer can shift wildly from day to day, and with over 700 computer languages currently (emphasis on that word), there will never be a shortage of new things to learn.
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7. You Are Interested in Working from Home
Not all programming jobs take place at the homefront, but enough of them that coding as a profession can be an excellent avenue for people interested in pursuing a remote career. Granted, the same is true of many other tech careers, but if the job you are currently working doesn’t allow for this, coding may be a pivot in the right direction.
It’s been possible to program remotely for a long time, but Covid-19 exacerbated the existing dynamic considerably. Even highly collaborative programming teams often work together only digitally. Many employers actively prefer this dynamic because it allows them to take advantage of talent from across the globe.
With a remote workforce, they can make their dream team made up of people on all different continents if that is what they want to do.
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8. You Want to Be Your Boss
It’s also worth keeping in mind that programmers are well-positioned to strike out independently if that’s what they want to do. With good coding skills, you can work as a freelancer or start up your own business if you’re entrepreneurial.
Coding is a skill that will be in demand forever. If you can do it well, the clients will be there waiting.
9. You Want to Communicate Better at Work
Learning code will also help you communicate better in your existing job. If you frequently collaborate with developers, understanding code will empower you to describe problems better and ask precisely what you want.
Have you ever found yourself at a car repair shop, saying, “It made a sort of grrrr, grrr, click sound from under the hood? Or maybe it was from the trunk.”
That’s what it feels like for developers discussing code with the uninitiated. Will they eventually figure out what you mean, even if you don’t know the code? Sure. But when everyone is on the same page, collaboration becomes more efficient, and, as a bargain, you get sound intelligence in the process.
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10. Coder’s Salaries Make You Drool
Why wouldn’t they? The national median salary for programmers is about $93 thousand annually, but that number can shift pretty radically depending on your location. For example, the median salary for coders in California is closer to $200 thousand annually. With advancement opportunities being plentiful, there is always room to make more money in this rewarding career path.
The industry itself can also make a big difference. For example, coding jobs in the energy sector pay as much as 10% more than average. As with any profession, having a specialty keeps you marketable and allows you to command more money for your services.
11. You Want to Keep as Many Doors as Possible Open
Keep in mind that coding doesn’t begin and end with computer programming. Sure, that’s the function — that’s how coding skills are applied. But not all people who understand and use code call themselves, programmers.
Most jobs in the tech sector will involve some degree of coding. Do you want to work in cyber security at a high level? Learn code. Or maybe you want to be involved in the burgeoning data science and processing industry. For that, you’ll need to understand and know how to (you guessed it) code.
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The number of jobs requiring programming knowledge or computer language comprehension will grow immeasurably. It’s easy to imagine a future not so far from now in which coding isn’t even considered a skill exclusive to the tech industry.
However, understanding code is paramount to advancement opportunities, higher salaries, and the general ability for those already in the technology niche. If you want to do your job well, coding is a skill that will help you do it. You don’t have to want to be a programmer to see the writing on the wall.