Until recently, I thought of computer coding as being pretty much limited to turtleneck-clad, vegan geniuses in Silicon Valley, or enigmatic hackers bent on overthrowing corrupt governments. Obviously, anyone who hasn’t spent the majority of the past five years watching every season of ‘Real Housewives’ knows this is not the case. Businesses in every field rely on computer code, and there are a wide variety of jobs you can explore with a basic knowledge of coding.
Basic coding skills can make you a more competitive candidate for jobs in nearly every industry. A report by the job market analytics firm BurningDoor found that in 2015, seven million job openings required computer coding skills, and they weren’t all programming positions: the five major job categories that called for coding skills were IT workers, data analysts, artists and designers, engineers, and scientists. Plus, jobs that require coding skills generally pay up to $22,000 more per year.
Coding can also give you the tools to strengthen and expand whatever job or hobby you may currently have, whether it’s revamping your blog, or streamlining your workload. According to Astrid Countee, an anthropologist and web developer, “The most exciting part is I can now build my own brand for any of my interests. I never would have felt I could do that on my own before I learned how to code.”
And while incorporating coding into your hobbies may not seem related to your career, it can in fact give you much greater professional flexibility. When you’re more marketable, have a diverse set of skills, and maybe one or two side-hustles, you are free to take more risks, and can bounce back faster if things go wrong. Once Countee learned to code, for example, she started freelancing in addition to her full-time job. “That meant that when I experienced a layoff, I didn’t have to immediately run to the next open position,” she told Forbes. “I had the option of continuing with my freelance work.”
No matter what you’re interested in, everyone needs marketing. It’s how companies promote and sell their products. Successfully creating content to market a product requires an understanding of how different programs work to attract customers, and being able to use Search Engine Optimization, HTML, and Google Analytics will help you create content — like blog posts, infographics, or videos — that will effectively attract the most potential customers.
If you’re interested in design, learning to code could open a lot of doors. User experience (UX) designers, for example, work to make sure a product is as appealing and user-friendly as possible, and according to the website Skillcrush, understanding code is important because it “comes in handy for quickly prototyping applications as well as understanding the limitations of what the engineering or development teams can create.”
Companies like Google are willing to shell out big bucks for people who can put all of the complex things they do into terms laypeople can understand. “Technical writers who know how to code are valuable because, unlike many writers, they have personal experience working with technology,” says Lauren Bradford, a tech writer for Forbes. “They understand it in a way that’s not just theoretical, so they can write about it in a way that’s clearer and more accessible.”
So you run a blog about cupcake-making/basket-weaving/karate and you’d like to take it to the next level. By learning how to use WordPress, and understanding what you can do to attract more readers, you could attract more users as well as potential freelance work.
Social Media Specialist
Everyone needs a carefully curated social media presence, and brands work to create distinct online identities to attract their target customers (even if, in the case of IHOP, that identity is sounding like your weird uncle who tries too hard to be hip). Understanding HTML, SEOs and APIs will help you better track your customers’ interest, and create a compelling social media presence.
Project managers exist in nearly every major industry, and help manage the budgets and timelines for various products. In order to do this effectively, they need to be able to coordinate with different groups, and basic coding skills will help them understand how to best communicate with their technical team.