And it’s a talent many of you likely don’t have
This high number is thanks, in part, to the fact that it’s not just technology jobs that now require at least some coding knowledge, says Alison Derbenwick Miller, the vice president of Oracle Academy. “Computing has become a tool in every industry,” which means that coding knowledge is now needed for workers across fields, she says. Indeed, everyone from business people who work with data to designers and marketers who create websites to scientists who conduct research now need at least some coding knowledge.
Employers and employees — even those who aren’t in the technology field — say the same. Jake Lane, a growth analyst at lawn care company LawnStarter, says that “having some knowledge of coding is essential for job seekers these days,” as it can help them understand the tasks of — and work more effectively with — other departments, including their tech and engineering teams.
Angela Copeland, who majored in computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. but subsequently moved to a marketing career, agrees: “Although I transitioned away from computer programming and into marketing, having a coding background has really helped me. First, when I’ve worked on website projects, it’s easier for me to communicate directly with developers. In the end, this causes my projects to get done faster and more accurately.”
And Alex Barshai, a marketing specialist for metal recovery firm ElectroMetals, which has eight offices worldwide including in Dubai, Mumbai and St. Louis, says that while his company does not require potential employees to have outstanding coding skills, an understanding of how programming languages work provides a job seeker with clear advantage over the others thanks to the analytical skills you develop when you learn to code. (Apple AAPL, +0.90% co-founder Steve Jobs — who once said, “Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer, should learn a computer language, because it teaches you how to think” — might have agreed.)
Other reasons that coding skills are so in demand: They can help workers “automate trivial tasks” and “hack their way to solutions others consider impossible,” says Mike Grassotti, the chief technology officer at small business loans company LiftForward based in New York.
Of course, there are still plenty of higher paying professions where coding isn’t needed. For example, contractors make an average salary of $65,239 but most don’t need coding skills, nor do many oil rig workers, many of whom make nearly $100,000 per year. What’s more, the number of jobs where the main task is to do computer programming is projected to decline in the coming years, as companies hire overseas computer programmers who may work for less, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But that doesn’t negate the fact that American workers will still need coding skills or knowledge (even if they aren’t the primary coders), nor the fact that the need for workers with knowledge of coding will likely increase, experts say. Indeed, some say that nearly every job in the future will require some knowledge of coding: Richard Wang, the chief executive officer of coding boot camp Coding Dojo, who has a vested interest in people brushing up on their coding skills, notes that “knowing how to code is an essential skill for workers wanting to get ahead in today’s digital economy — so much so, I believe that it will eventually be a mandatory skill set required by employers.” Coding Dojo has campuses in Silicon Valley, Washington, DC. and a few other cities. Or, as Grassotti puts it: “Coding is the new literacy: Like the ability to read, what was once optional will soon be a basic requirement.”
However, there is good news for those without coding skills: You can acquire these skills without having to study computer science in college — sometimes for free. CodeAcademy is one of the better programs, according to technology magazine Wired (and it’s free), but there are plenty of others, including Girl Develop It and Udacity.