9 Reasons Why Learning to Code Will Change Your Life
What does your idea of a perfect life look like?
There’s a good chance it involves escaping your morning commute, ditching your mundane 9–5 job, having more time to do the things you love like travel, or spending time with your family, and so on.
It sounds too good to be true, right?
But living that kind of lifestyle is more possible than you think.
I know this because I speak from experience. A few years ago, I was stuck at that boring desk job.
I thought I had “made it”. And when I got “there”…it just wasn’t right. I had to be somewhere for X hours a day. Letting someone else call the shots. It wasn’t what I thought it would be like.
But instead of sitting there, day after day, I took action. I began teaching myself how to code. And as a result, my life has changed dramatically.
Listen: I’m no savant. In fact, I was put in a remedial computer course my freshman year of college because that’s how badly I did on the computer literacy test at orientation.
Nonetheless, over the past few years I’ve been able to level up my skills, and enjoy all the benefits that came with it. Below are nine reasons why gaining in-demand coding skills can change your life, too.
Reason #1: There are a ton of tech jobs out there
Today’s job market is tough: there are too many qualified applicants competing for too few positions…in most industries, that is. The tech sector hasn’t been suffering, though.
Instead, it’s been exploding.
Not sure where to look? There are dozens of online job boards for programmers and developers: Sologig, Envato Studio, StackOverflow Careers, Smashing Jobs, Dice.com, Get A Coder, and the list goes on.
Reason #2: It pays to have coding skills
And I don’t mean “pays” in a, “I’m eating Ramen for three meals a day, but I am sooo fulfilled and happy selling my stencils on Etsy” way.
It literally pays.
In Dice’s 2014–2015 Tech Salary Survey, tech salaries (and bonuses) keep on rising. In 2014, technology professionals earned on average $89,450 annually.
On the other hand, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014 the annual mean wage for US workers—across all fields—was $47,230.
Tech people make almost double that.
Of course, this is an average. You won’t necessarily walk out of the gate getting a $90k salary.
Nonetheless, there’s no denying that having tech skills pays.
Reason #3: Freelancing full-time/working remotely gets a lot easier
For a lot of people, working from anywhere is a dream.
When you possess valuable tech skills (like programming), that dream is much, much closer to becoming a reality. A lot of companies these days couldn’t care less if they see your face at the office, as long as the work you’re assigned is done.
This could mean working from home, working from your hotel room in Hawaii, or working in wifi hotspots as you backpack Southeast Asia.
It means you don’t have to sacrifice living in your dream location because there aren’t any jobs there. Simply put, having in-demand digital skills can give you freedom.
Reason #4: You can make your own schedule
If you’re not tied down to a brick-and-mortar workplace, you’ll probably be setting your own hours. Do you work best at midnight? No problem. Want to take a three-day weekend to visit friends? Sure thing.
A lot of modern companies understand that set work hours aren’t necessary. Instead, your time is your own to manage. Because when your job involves coding, all you need is your computer and an Internet connection.
Reason #5: You’ll never have to take work you don’t want
In a normal job, you don’t really have choices. Your boss hands you a project, and basically your only option is to grit your teeth and get it done.
But if you’re working for yourself (as a freelancer or consultant), you get to say “No.”
Even if you don’t work for yourself, a software engineering or web development career gives you leverage. There’s a lot of demand for these skills. So if you’re unhappy with your job, you can feel more confident about leaving in search of greener pastures.
Reason #6: You’re able to build things and see results
Are you one of those people who’s constantly brimming with amazing ideas for websites or businesses, but can’t justify spending the money on hiring people to help you make them a reality?
Well, when you can can build out your ideas on your own, that ceases to be a problem.
Aside from turning your ideas into something real, making a website or app with nothing but your brain, fingers, and laptop is pretty satisfying.
Reason #7: Making money from side projects is a real thing
Remember Flappy Bird, that simple little flash-game app? Well, at its peak, the app was generating revenues of about $50,000 a day.
Now, obviously that was a fluke occurrence. But it does go to show how much is possible from your side gig.
Ultimately, learning how to develop websites, apps or games can help you hone your skills and maybe even bring in a little side income while at it. And if you choose projects you’re passionate about, you will even have fun during the process.
Reason #8: You’re able to connect with a whole new community
The tech community is massive, and very active.
Meetups, hackathons, and conferences are great places to collaborate with others on projects, network with experts, and make friends, all while sharpening your professional skills.
And location is no excuse.
Even if you live in the middle of nowhere, you can still participate in online groups, forums, and even virtual conferences.
- If you’re a redditor, add r/programming to your subscription list.
- If you like conferences and videos, participate in Hack Summit.
- If you like Slack, join one of the many relevant Slack communities.
- If you’re an avid Facebook user, check out my very own Facebook group Newbie Coder Warehouse
- If you have specific questions while learning, there are thousands of people out there to answer them on sites like Stack Overflow.
The tech community is extremely supportive; learning/working in tech is not something you have to do on your own.
Reason #9: You’ll feel empowered, fulfilled, and capable
Last and certainly not least: knowing how to code is empowering.
It’s an amazing feeling to take on something difficult and master it…and with coding in particular, that means taking something that’s basically gibberish to you and turning it into something you’re able to understand and use.
I was a history major in college with very little computer experience. When I started taking coding courses a few years ago, nobody believed I would stick it out, and I only half-believed it myself. All of this makes it that much better. (“Hi, guys! Still here!”)
Having tech skills (coding/programming, namely) really doesn’t have downsides.
It’s challenging enough to keep your brain active. It gives you freedom — financially and in your day-to-day. And it opens up a whole new world of people to meet, events to attend, and things to learn.
And with so many free places where you can learn to code, there is no excuse to not give it a try.
Trade an hour of TV every day for your first coding course. It’s a decision you won’t regret.
Laurence Bradford is the creator of learntocodewith.me, a website dedicated to those teaching themselves how to code. She helps people make the leap from simply having digital skills, to getting paid to use them and ultimately live life on their terms.