Learning coding worth the effortBy Cruise Hall | 01/26/2015 11:13pm
The explosive growth of computer technology should correspond with an equally explosive growth of computer programming skills. Coding literacy has, however, managed to evade the general public. This enormous knowledge gap translates into equally enormous opportunity for the few who do know how to innovate in the digital realm. College students have every reason to learn to code and no excuse not to start today.
First, programming proficiency makes any job candidate instantly marketable. Employers are eager to hire professionals who can see behind the screen and leverage technology to enhance productivity. Coders are also more likely to be selected for special projects and subsequent promotions – every business prefers to pursue in-house tech solutions and avoid outside contractors and pricy consultants.
The ability to decipher computer mysteries also credits instant job security. Everyone in the office wants to be friends with the guy who knows how to make the computers work and nobody wants to fire him.
With these benefits in mind, it’s encouraging to know a variety of professional fields have applications for programming skills. Doctors with experience in information architecture can diagnose errors in electronic medical records. Engineers fluent in the Fortran language can perform analysis for their own design projects. Marketing consultants well versed in HTML and CSS can personally work to build a client’s website. The list of digitally saturated careers is endless, and the competitive job market will continue to reward those who possess basic programming skills.
As hard as it may sound learning to code is not that difficult. In fact, anyone with a laptop and an internet connection can pick up some basic skills in a matter of days.
There are several free online learning tools and nearly every notable programming language can be downloaded from its developer’s website for free. An inexpensive book can be just as effective as a structured learning environment. Most professional coders actually learned the bulk of their trade outside of the classroom. Countless forums, tutorials and blogs cover nearly every question anyone could ever ask about programming.
The ever-evolving nature of programming has created a culture of knowledge sharing that makes code knowledge accessible to all, and there will never be a better time to pursue it.
Cruise Hall is a senior majoring in mechanical engineering. His column runs biweekly.