Do you need to learn to code?

This post originally published on the General Assembly Blog.

With almost 2 million IT jobs posted in the last 12 months alone,  asking “do I need to learn to code?” is a very common question in today’s job economy. The answer, however, is not a simple “yes” or “no.” As with most things technical, the answer is, “it depends,” and it depends on a few key factors, including your:

1. Attitude & Aptitude

Can you learn to code? Will you enjoy writing code? You really never know if you can do something, do it well, and enjoy doing it until you actually try to do it. Trying coding at one of the many free coding school sites like Dash or CoderManual, and determine your aptitude for learning code as well as whether or not you’ll actually enjoy it. Keep in mind that learning how to write code most certainly does not limit you to just writing code. In fact, just being able to write code opens up a world of opportunity because you understand the language, the process, the time it takes, and the result. NOW, how’s your code attitude?

2. Availability

Learning to code takes time. Do you have the time? Also, if you learn to code, are there jobs available where you are? Silly question. There were over 100,000 web and mobile development positions open in last year alone! So it comes back to you. Do you have the time to invest in learning how to write software code?

3. Ambition

What do you want to do 3-6 months from today when you know how to write code? Your answer may help you determine whether or not you take the plunge. Do you want to get a job as an 9am-5pm software developer? Do you want to go to work for a startup and learn 15 different technologies and software languages in two years while working your tail off 6 or 7 days a week? Or do you want to be able to make your own ideas into reality? A great example of this range of possibilities is exemplified in an Atlanta software shop called 10Rocket. The founder attended a coding school so he could build his dream into a reality. But when he learned to code, he saw a bigger opportunity building dozens of other people’s dreams into MVPs, and getting paid to do it. They’ve had a great first year. What do you want to do with your new language?

4. Assets

Learning to code is not free. Well, ok, it could be technically monetarily free using the aforementioned Dash or Coder Manual (or a hundred other “free” code schools), but the more established “immersive” code schools last from 6 – 20 weeks and cost anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000. It’s not four years of college tuition by a long shot, but it’s not free. Do you have the time and money to invest in your new skill set?

Like many of life’s big decisions, learning to code might be a no brainer for the CS Major in her sophomore year at Georgia Tech or Stanford, but will need to be filtered through many of life’s other current goings on for someone who already has a job or isn’t sure what they want to do for the rest of their life as they stare graduation (college or high school) in the face. Either way, walking through the five “A”s above will help make sure you make the correct decision.

And, as a final criteria, one cannot ask the question “do I need to learn to code?” without considering that nearly everything we touch these days is driven by programming of some sort, from our watches to our cars and everything in between. There’s already a huge shortage of software developers in the U.S. today, and that shortage is not shrinking, but getting bigger.

If you want to have a skill that is imminently employable, then, yes, you need to learn to code.ore Web Development Courses at GA

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