Can Learning to Code Increase Your Market Value?
In this article we review the research from top companies like Forbes and Indeed in order to determine the answer to the question: “Can learning how to code (program) lead to an increase your market-value?” Furthermore, with the increased creation of code academies, are the skills one learns in a bootcamp relevant to today’s business demands?
Spoiler: It depends
We’ll weigh the pros and cons of coding and assess its supply and demand in the local South Florida market for 2017.
Truth #1: Coding is a valuable skillset. Coding is digital literacy. Coding has never been more applicable as it is now. In a rapidly digitizing world; banks, hospitals, e-commerce websites and other digital ecosystems that house information all run on code.
Truth #2: Coding provides intangible benefits. The ability to speak “machine language” can increase your ability to troubleshoot – and solve problems logically, in a more focused, and goal-oriented way. Writing instructions to a computer program from scratch (as opposed to using pre-written scripts) trains the left side of your brain. It forces you to be more logical, and find novel, sequence-based solutions to solving challenging problems.
Truth #4: You don’t need a degree to code. Most of the most brilliant developers we’ve worked with are self taught. What’s more, a traditional, 4-year computer science degree is not necessary to get started in the field. While the below research finds that 89% of coding jobs typically require at least a bachelor’s degree, coding is a skill not limited by “years of experience.” A coder with 3 years of Java experience may be equal in talent to a coder who has only 1; it’s a matter of familiarity and exposure levels, as opposed to time. Therefore the barriers to entry for a successful developer are low.
Truth #5: Demand is high. (But so is supply).
A 2016 study found that:
Coding jobs represent a large and growing part of the job market. There were nearly 7 million job openings in the U.S. last year for roles requiring coding skills. Half of all programming openings are in Finance, Manufacturing, Health Care, and other sectors outside of the technology industry.
Demand for Talented Programmers in South Florida
The South Florida tech market has been responding to this need through the creation of code academies. Coding schools like IronHack and Wyncode offer short bootcamps that train graduates with real-world skills in design and development. Less formalized, DIY training programs like CodeAcademy and W3Schools allow individuals to learn this valuable skillset on their own time – and reduce the time to complete formalized education. An Indeed survey found that “72% of employers consider bootcamp grads to be just as prepared and just as likely to perform at a high level than computer science grads. Some go further: 12% think they are more prepared and more likely to do better” (Source).
As an industry, coding bootcamps have only been around since 2013. The number of graduates has increased sharply as organizations began demanding more talent; in the year 2013, there were 2,178 graduates – in the year 2016 that number rose to 17,996 graduates. That’s an 820% increase in the number of coding bootcamp graduates! (Source). As recruiters serving the South Florida (Miami, Broward, West Palm Beach) we see the demand from companies for talented engineers. However, we also see code camp graduates that struggle to find a job, usually due to lack of experience.
Truth #6: Coding is difficult. Coding isn’t easy to learn. If the pop psychologist Malcolm Gladwell is to be believed, 10,000 hours of applied practice are required for someone to be good at something. Learning how to build a set of instructions in HTML is relatively easy. Coordinating the build of a CRM or ERP system that speaks to multiple APIs is more difficult. Creating the front-end and back-end architecture for a scalable app, website, or e-commerce platform is a gargantuan task that requires decades of training to master.
Given that programmers are paid well, perhaps more individuals should pursue a career in this field. But not so fast. We shouldn’t be learning to code just because Steve Jobs said so.
Truth #7 Don’t code for the sake of coding. Ask yourself: “What solution will this skillset solve in my life?” Coding for the sake of coding should not be the end goal. Instead, coders solve problems that lead to solutions. Having a working knowledge of variables and functions, pointers and recursion will make you marketable, but it will be the career opportunities you take up with that skillset that will give you leverage.
Going from self-taught hobbyist, to full-stack lead engineer is a road paved with autonomy, frustration – and opportunity. The demand has never been higher. The pay is lucrative and attractive. However, at the end of the day, it may not be for you. (You won’t know it until you try it)! It’s a matter of selecting a field you thrive in, and doing what you were programmed to do!