If you’re feeling stuck or unhappy in your current job and you’re looking for a career that not only pays more money but also doesn’t require going back to school for a new degree, you could do worse than learning to code and becoming a web developer. Indeed.com currently lists average web developer salaries as $72,210 per year and has over 46,000 listings for web developer jobs. This sounds great, but you might be asking yourself if you’d be a good fit as a coder. So how do you decide if coding is right for you?
The number one thing to keep in mind when trying to decide if coding is right for you is pretty simple: Coding is for everyone. So if you’re ready to learn some new skills and take on a uniquely fun, challenging, and rewarding line of work, coding is most definitely right for you—end of story.
According to a 2017 Science Magazine study, our success hinges on the way we perceive our abilities, not on the quality of our abilities themselves. Which means that questioning whether or not you’re inherently cut out for a specific field already puts you behind the proverbial 8-ball. Working with aspiring coders at Skillcrush, we hear a pretty consistent series of doubts people have when thinking about making a career change to tech. Unfortunately, it’s those doubts alone that often end up keeping people from learning tech skills. So no, it doesn’t matter how bad you think you are at math, how old you are, of if you don’t know the first thing about technology—every single one of these things can be addressed by learning the right skills.
That being said, it’s still helpful to hear some of the specific ways coding might connect with you. While there’s no such thing as a prototypical coder or a person who's uniquely suited for learning to code, different aspects of coding will speak to different people’s personalities and interests. So we’ve rounded up a few of the top ways coding will be right for you, no matter who you are.
Coding is ultimately a creative process. Similar to writing stories or essays with a human language, or using colors and lines to create visual images, you’ll be using programming languages to build websites, applications, or software programs. And so—if you’re someone who enjoys taking ideas and making them real—coding will appeal directly to your creative nature. Stereotypes aside, coding is a lot more than sitting in front of a computer for hours on end typing strings of gibberish. You’ll be working with clients to develop a vision and work product that meets their needs, collaborating with designers on the look and feel of that vision, and finding ways of using code to bring the vision to life—work that requires and inspires creativity on a daily basis.
There’s no replacement for the feeling you get after solving a problem—especially one that requires logic and research abilities to figure it out. From pen and paper games like crossword puzzles and Sudoku, to board games like Scrabble, and even video games like Minecraft, people spend a lot of time and money entertaining themselves with problem-solving. So—if you’re one of those people—imagine what it’s like to actually get paid for solving problems. Or better yet, picture yourself coding, because a big part of coding is just that—solving problems. And it’s not just mathematical problems, either.
Contrary to popular belief, mathematical computation isn’t a big part of typical web developer jobs. Yes, computers operate on 1’s and 0’s, but coding itself is more about figuring out which programming language commands will produce the best results in specific situations. You’ll also be more likely to spend time searching for hints and solutions on Google than you will reach for a graphing calculator. Yes, you’ll write plenty of code from scratch, but—once you immerse yourself in coding—you’ll find that a lot of legwork has already been done by people who came before you. Researching code sharing sites like CodePen and Stack Overflow will turn up code snippets that help automate routine programming tasks, which is all part of the fun for people who enjoy solving puzzles.
Do you like working with other people on a team? Do you prefer working alone? Are you somewhere in the middle? Then good news! Coding is for you. One of coding’s bigger appeals—and why it’s a career path that can work for everyone—is that your work situation can easily be molded to fit your particular work style and interests. If you like the camaraderie and group dynamic of being part of a work team, then tailor your job searches to web development studios and software companies looking for team programmers. If you’re a lone wolf who’d rather spend your day in a home office or coworking space working solo, freelance developer work might be your best bet. And if you’re somewhere in between, the truth of the matter is all coding jobs have their moments of both group and solo activity.
Even team members who are joined at the hip and working in the same office will spend stretches working by themselves to produce code, while the most hermetical freelancer still interacts with clients, stakeholders, and collaborators in order to produce a finished development project. The takeaway here? Coding jobs come in so many shapes and sizes—from huge corporate teams to solo freelancing—that you’re bound to be a fit with one of them.
Let’s face it: In 2018, the 9-5 office model of work feels so out of date. While it serves people who are able to be away from home for the same fixed amount of time every day, it excludes anyone who isn’t—caretakers, people with chronic health conditions, people who don’t live in a fixed location year round, etc. It’s no surprise then that flexible work schedules and remote work opportunities are both in demand and on the rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of people doing some or all of their work from home rose from 19 percent in 2003 to 24 percent by 2015. The tech industry, in general, is at the forefront of this movement toward new ways of working, and coding, in particular, is a vehicle for working a schedule that fits your unique lifestyle, responsibilities, and needs. So, if you like the idea of being able to work from anywhere with access to a laptop, electricity, and an internet connection, then coding is definitely for you. And if you insist on a traditional office? Nine-to-five coding jobs exist as well, so yes, coding is also for you.