If you really want to learn to code, go for it. But don’t sell yourself short. Just doing the occasional HTML course on Codecademy.com won’t transform you into a real app creator and it surely won't get you anywhere close to landing a coding job. If you’re going to learn to code, learn to code well enough to be paid to learn to how to code better. Here are 5 reasons why you should go beyond learning to code and become a software engineer, regardless of your background or preferred career track.
The following is undoubtedly today’s greatest education hack. The best way to learn to code is by learning on the job as a junior software engineer. And, as you’ve probably heard, you can land a job as a junior software engineer without a degree. In other words, don’t pay for your education, have someone pay you for it. Now, this isn’t actually so much a hack because you’ve got to figure out how to get your foot in the door and land that first job, and then after that, hopefully, you will, in fact, add value to that company. However, this is absolutely doable and happens all the time. You just have to put in the work and commit to going beyond “learning to code” and to set your sights on becoming a software engineer.
Well, nothing is future proof, but it’s no secret that the world is seeking to automate your skill-set. According to CNN, “Thirty-eight percent of jobs in the U.S. are at high risk of being replaced by robots and artificial intelligence over the next 15 years”. You can either be automated, or you can be the one building the automations. There are countless stats available all over the internet that all argue for the this conclusion: the demand for new software engineers is growing, the supply is shrinking, and their salaries, on average, are much higher than other industries.
Backing up for a second, why do you want to learn to code? If it’s not to become a software engineer, then it’s probably because you want to build something on your own, start something, or perhaps just gain some tech skills to enhance your current position. Landing a job as a software engineer will enable you to have the option to do all of these.
Not only will you have a job as a software engineer, but you’re a software engineer with an alternative background. In other words, you have other tricks - you were doing other things while all these nerds were getting Computer Science degrees (just kidding, you’re a nerd too). Therefore, you have the leverage to transition to pretty much any other position in the tech ecosystem. For example, software engineers make great product managers! Interested in design or UX? Knowing how to code is becoming essential to these roles. And here’s the best one: want to experiment and try out something new, or quit your job to become a tech entrepreneur? You have the skills for it, and if it doesn’t work out, you can easily go back to software engineering. Risks are less risky for you.
If you can learn to code well enough to land a job as a software engineer, you can learn anything! Software engineers eventually become autodidact as technology evolves and they pick up new languages and frameworks. This same process can be used to acquire any new skill or career.
Think for a moment about a tech company. What skills are present in the different positions? Think about marketing, sales, engineering, product and the finance/operations teams. Not to say that any of these are “easy”, but likely “engineering” has the steepest “hard skills” learning curve. Either you can code, or you can’t. After learning this foundational skill, you should feel confident to tackle other arenas should you desire it.
Perhaps the greatest reason to become a software engineer isn’t factual or measurable, but internal. Stop being the kind of reactive person who lets life pass you by, and become proactive. Set goals, achieve them. Stop believing the lies that you’re stuck, and take some responsibility to unstick yourself. As Seth Godin says,
"Life’s too short to fight the forces of change. Life’s too short to hate what you do all day. Life’s way too short to make mediocre stuff.”
All the things you hear about software engineering jobs are mostly true - you can get paid a bunch of money, you can work at amazing companies with free lunches, and often times you can work from wherever, whenever. But this is all superficial. The greatest thing about becoming a software engineer is that it gives you the ability to solve problems, to build, to effect change and do something significant with your life.
So what’s holding you back? What are the lies that you're believing? That you’re not smart enough, that you’re too old, that you don’t have enough money? Subscribe below to our “Become a Software Engineer” series and receive practical content on how to debunk these lies and go for it (we promise we won't flood your inbox with junk).
For more information on how to code for a living, download our updated ebook - 2019's Guide To Coding For a Living