The year is 2018 and it’s all over the television, the internet, the newspapers; people are talking about it in coffee shops, at office desks across from where we sit, and what not. There’s a scramble for people to learn how to program. It’s a confusing and scary situation for someone who has never written a line of code, to think about all these discussions that are doing the rounds. In this article, I’m going to give you 5 reasons why I think you should learn to code, even if you are not a programmer by profession.
Okay, first thing’s first: What is Programming?
Programming is the process of writing/creating a set of instructions that tell a computer how to perform a certain task. Just like you would tell someone to do something and you would tell them in a language like English, computers also understand particular languages. This is called a programming language. There are several like Java, Python, C# (pronounced Csharp), etc. Just like many would find English easier to learn that French or maybe Cantonese, every person finds each language different, although almost all languages can do pretty much the same thing.
So now, let’s see what our top 5 reasons are to learn a programming language, and ultimately, how to program a computer.
#1 Automate stuff:
How many times do we find ourselves doing the same old monotonous work ourselves. For example, a salesperson who has a list of 100 odd leads, will normally mail each person manually. How cool would it be if you could automate that and let your computer send each person a mail separately addressing them appropriately?
Or maybe, you’re a manager who has a load of data you can’t really make sense of. You can use a language like Python to sort it and visualise your findings. Yes, that’s possible with programming!
There’s a lot of other stuff that can be automated too, like HR scanning resumes manually. You can program your computer to do it for you, while you spend that time doing something more productive! Now while there might be softwares readily available that could do this for you, they’re pretty much standard and non-customisable. With programming, you can build something that’s tailor-made to your exact requirement.
#2 Start thinking more logically:
When you learn to program, you start thinking about outcomes more logically. Programming languages are all about logic and problem-solving. You will soon learn how to break down problems into small parts and tackle them individually. You can apply this learning in your own personal and work life.
#3 Earn great moolah
Programming pays really well and even freelance jobs pay close to $100 an hour. You could have your day job, while taking advantage of your programming skills to build websites, games, create applications for clients, after work or over the weekend, while making some good bucks. Here’s a list of average salaries earned by programmers, based on the language they used:
Source: TOP 10 ChallengeRocket.com ranking of projected earnings in 2017
#4 Another great idea!
Well, in case you’re an entrepreneur or are planning to become one, learning a programming language is sure to benefit you a great deal. The most successful startups these days are AI and software based and even though you might not be the one doing the programming, you will be interacting with those who will. It makes things much easier when you’re discussing with such a person, and more importantly, it saves you from being taken for a ride in many ways.
#5 Having fun
Unlike several other things that are boring to learn and will get you frustrated in a matter of hours, programming isn’t like that. That’s not to say that programming doesn’t have a learning curve, but with the right sources, you can learn it quickly and effectively. There are few things that can compare to the satisfaction of creating something.
You can use programming to build your own game or maybe prank somebody! I tried that once – every time a friend clicked on the browser icon on my PC, it would make a loud farting noise! Don’t believe me yet? Over 80% of respondents to our most recent Skill-Up survey said that they programmed for fun, outside of work.
#bonusreason! What’s to lose?
I mean, seriously what can you lose? You’re going to be learning something completely new and will be probably much better at solving problems at home or your workplace. If you’re thinking you won’t find time to learn, think again. I’m sure all of us can make time, at least an hour a day to do something productive, if we commit to it. And you can always consider this your “me time”.
Okay, so now you have your 5+1 reasons to learn to program. You’ve had some quality time to think about it and you’re ready to start learning. But you have some questions like where to start? Do you need to take a course or a college degree? Will it cost much? How long will it take to learn programming? The list is never ending. I’m going to put up some FAQs that most people ask me before they intend to start learning how to code. So here it goes…
- Where to start?
Honestly speaking, you can start in the confines of your home! You just need a computer, an internet connection and the will to learn, if you want to get started with programming. You can begin by understanding what programming is a bit more, selecting a programming language, and then diving right into coding with the help of some material like the book, Introduction to Programming.
- What language do I pick?
- Do you need to take a course or a college degree?
Not really, unless you plan on making it your full time career or becoming a software engineer or something like that. I’ve known some of the top professionals who haven’t earned a degree and still are at the position where they are. Mark Zuckerberg for example, dropped out of Harvard to start Facebook (he recently received an honorary degree in 2017, though). Programming is about learning to solve problems and in most cases, you don’t need a degree to prove that you’re great at solving problems. You can take an online course or buy a book to start learning. Sometimes, just looking at code often can teach you a lot too. Take HTML and CSS for example. If you like how a website looks, you could just checkout its source code to understand why it is the way it. Do this for a few sites and you you grasp the basics of what the HTML/CSS code do and how to write or alter simple code snippets.
- Will it cost much?
You can learn a lot freely if you have a lot of time and patience at hand; sorting out the good from the bad. There are plenty of resources out there from Q&A sites like stackoverflow to youtube with its vast collection of videos. If you are like most people with a day job, you are better off spending a little to learn. There are several reasonably priced videos and courses from Packt, that will help you get started with computer programming. Alternatively, you can purchase a book or two for under $100. Trust me, once you become good at programming, you’ll be earning way more than you invested!
- How long will it take to learn programming?
I can’t really answer that for certain. I took about 4 months to learn Python, while a friend of mine could code small programs within a couple of weeks. It all depends on the language you choose to learn, the amount of time you invest and how committed you are to learning something new.
- What jobs can I get?
You may be quite happy in your current job as a non-programmer who now knows to code. But in case, you’re wondering about job prospects in programming, here is the rundown. As a programmer, you have a variety of jobs to choose from, depending on your area of interest. You could be a web developer, or a game developer, or you could also be building desktop applications like a notepad or word processor. There are a huge number of jobs available for those who can work with a lot of data as well, while there are a growing number of jobs for professionals who can manage thousands of computers working together – their maintenance, security, etc.
Okay, so you have enough information to start your adventures into learning programming! You might hear people talk a lot about professionals losing jobs due to automation. Don’t let something like that be the reason behind why you want to learn how to program. Computer Science and programming has become more ingrained in school education, and our little ones are being coached to be industry ready.
Always remember, programming is not everyone’s cup of tea and you shouldn’t do it just because everyone else is. Do it if you’re really passionate about solving problems in a better way. You will never know if programming is really meant for you until you try it. So go forth and get your hands dirty with some code!