Why Now Is The Time To Learn To Code

Ever wondered how Spotify’s algorithm makes all the right recommendations when it compiles a weekly playlist? Or why Amazon’s shopping app can identify exactly what you’re looking for? There’s sophisticated code behind both of them. With more time on your hands to devote to learning new skills, now's a great opportunity to get your head around coding. Here’s why, where and how.

WHY

Learn At Your Own Pace

Everyone should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think – or so said Steve Jobs. The good news is, with plenty of varied – and even free – options for learning online, computer code is no longer the reserve of techies on three-year degree courses. Plenty of online sites like Code Academy or Treehouse offer staggered, personalised online learning at different levels of cost. And it’s always possible to sign up to a more intense ‘boot camp’ course if you want to jump in properly.

Open Up Job Opportunities

In recent years, employers have been creating more digital roles, which means pay is on the increase. CodeClan estimates an average starting salary for a junior developer to be around £25,000-£27,499, rising to around £40k within just two years. “Software development is so much more than just a salary, but it’s good to know that what you do will be well rewarded,” it says. “Software development comes with a fantastic roster of opportunities. You could become the next cutting-edge start-up, take on roles with global giants like Adobe or Google, and you can go just about anywhere in the world once you have a bit of experience under your belt.”

Boost Logic & Problem-Solving Skills

If you work in a creative industry, you may be accustomed to using trial and error to find the best solution to various problems. Or maybe you’re in a field such as marketing: your job is about communications, you work as part of a team, and are responsible for creating enthusiasm around a brand or project. Either way, the skills you’ve picked up would stand you in good stead when it comes to coding. Software developer is “a role that requires you to be creative when tackling a problem and challenges you to figure out an optimal solution to this problem,” explains CodeClan. “This way of working is great for stoking ambition and also ensures that a day at the office is never boring.”

WHAT

To understand what kind of code you’re interested in learning, you should start by picking your ‘language’. Different kinds of code will allow you to build different kinds of programs or apps. Here’s a brief overview…

HTML & CSS

According to Code Academy experts, HTML is the foundation behind all web pages. “It’s used to add structure and form to text, images and more. CSS is the language used to style HTML content,” they explain. “You’ll learn the fundamentals of both languages so that you can create visually appealing web pages.”

Python

Python is a general-purpose, versatile and modern programming language,” says Code Academy. “It’s great as a first language because it is concise and easy to read. Use it for everything from web development to software development and scientific applications.”

JavaScript

JavaScript is another programming language of the web. “You can use it to add dynamic behaviour, store information, and handle requests and responses on a website,” explains Code Academy.

Java

One of the most popular programming languages out there, Java is used for software development, mobile applications and large systems development.

SQL

It’s no secret we live in a data-driven world – in fact, it’s data that offers insights to inform strategy, marketing and operations for hundreds of thousands of businesses. “There are a ton of businesses that use large, relational databases, which makes a basic understanding of SQL a great employable skill not only for data scientists but almost everyone,” reckons Code Academy. 

Bash/Shell

Not sure what the command line terminal is? In short, it’s one of the most powerful tools in a computer. “It can run complex commands that can manipulate the existing file structure, download from remote sites, and support version-control systems like Git, among many others,” says Code Academy. 

Ruby

A general-purpose language that is still used commonly, Ruby is reputed to be easy to pick up, despite being powerful. “Companies like Twitter, Soundcloud, Goodreads and Kickstarter got their products off the ground with Ruby,” explains Code Academy.

C++

C++ is a very popular language for applications which rely heavily on speed and efficient memory management, such as gaming, VR, robotics and scientific computing.

R

“R is a widely used statistical programming language that’s beloved by users in academia and industry,” says Code Academy. “[It] works well with data, making it a great language for anyone interested in data analysis, data visualization and data science.”

Go

Google’s programming language is feature-packed, straightforward and fast. In addition to Google, this statically typed language is used by Medium, Pinterest, Slack and Twitch, among others.

PHP

A widely used server-side programming language, PHP has become increasingly fast and powerful over the years. “PHP works well with HTML and databases, making it a great language for anyone interested in building dynamic web applications,” says Code Academy.

Swift

Swift is a general-purpose, compiled programming language developed by Apple for the various operating systems across its products.

WHERE

Code Academy 

Not only is Code Academy easily accessible, with all course material available online, the interactive nature makes for an engaging learning experience. Even better, it’s completely free.

Visit CodeAcademy.com

Khan Academy 

Khan Academy is another free online learning resource. It personalises the experience by enabling you to build your own dashboard and share your creations with other users.

Visit KhanAcademy.org

MIT Open Courseware 

An online publication available through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), this Introduction to Computer Science and Programming course is aimed at students with little to no experience – a great place to start for those looking to learn the basics.

Visit OCW.MIT.Edu

Free Code Camp 

Free Code Camp is an open, online community where you can learn to code, build your portfolio and even do good by helping non-profit organisations with their coding needs once you’ve mastered the basics. 

Visit FreeCodeCamp.com

The Odin Project

The Odin Project allows access to great resources developed by experienced web developers, giving you the chance to work with like-minded students and build a portfolio of projects. 

Visit TheOdinProject.com

MIT App Inventor 

Consider this a beginner’s introduction to programming and app creation. The cloud-based tool will guide you through the simple steps to building your first app via your own web browser, all the way through to live testing.

Visit AppInventor.MIT.Edu 

Treehouse 

Although this is not a free course like some of the previous examples, Treehouse is a fast, easy and affordable way to learn to code. Offering a variety of resources on web design, the site features clear, well-explained videos, all created by experts in the field.

Visit TeamTreehouse.com

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