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Why Should I Learn to Code?

Coding or Computer Programming is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. The next time you message a friend on Facebook or send an email, remember that it was a computer programmer who made it happen. If you enjoy solving problems and following logic, then a career in coding could be for you. What's more, the average salary of a computer coder in the UK is £28,386 - almost £2,000 more than the national average.

What is coding?

Coding on a laptop

Learning to code is like learning a new language

Coding is a hot topic right now and in September 2014, the subject was added to the National Curriculum in England and Wales. In a nutshell, coding is the language used to make websites and computer programmes work. Behind every website there are lines and lines of coding that ensure everything on the website works as it should.

'A career in coding requires problem solving skills and logical thinking.'

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Learning how to code is literally like learning a new language. Generally speaking, there are two types of coding language - 'low level' and 'high level'. Because low level programmes tend to use binary (0s and 1s), it is much harder to learn compared to high level languages like Ruby, Javascript and PHP.

The video below from Al Jazeera, explores the success of introducing coding to UK schools:

What skills will I gain from learning to code?

Other than learning the skill of coding itself, by studying coding, you will pick up a range of key skills that will help you in other school subjects and your future career. Some of the skills you will gain include:

Problem solving skills

Computer programmers love solving problems and because every website is different, every new project can present new challenges. As a coder, you'll need to have the patience and resourcefulness to see problems through to completion, which is a quality that employers also look for in candidates.

Numeracy skills

The nature of coding requires you to have good literacy and numeracy skills. However, because computer programming doesn't always use traditional mathematical formulas, you'll be learning a whole new way of working with numbers. The advanced numeracy skills that you will learn from coding will be of great advantage when applying to jobs.

Logical thinking

Because coding is all about following patterns and processes, you'll develop strong logical thinking skills that can help you make better decisions. Employers always look for candidates who are able to make confident decisions based on logical thinking.

Analysis and evaluation skills

A large part of learning how to code involves analysing code segments and evaluating their performance. Sometimes, when things don't go to plan, analysing and evaluating your own or another person's work is the only way to find out how to put things right.

What careers can I do with coding?

Girl being shown a computer screen

Most coding jobs involve working with computers

Because most coding careers involve working with computers, you should prepare yourself for office-based working. Computers coders often work as part of a bigger team within a company. As a coder, a large part of your working day can involve being alone in front of a computer screen. Here are some coding jobs that you could consider:

Software development

Working to create new software for computers, software development can be a hugely rewarding job and one with great career prospects. Software developers will always be in demand and the job can be really diverse. In this job, you could find yourself working on a large software product one day and carrying out maintenance work on existing software the next.

Data analysis

Data analysts extract key information from a range of sources, including algorithms and source codes. In order to work as a top level data analyst, you'll need to have a good knowledge and understanding of computer code.

Website development

As a website developer, your role will typically involve coding websites so that they function properly. You could find yourself working as part of a team for a marketing agency, as a coder for a large corporation or as a freelance coder, working for yourself. Website development is a fast growing industry and a great career to pursue.

What qualifications do I need to be a coder?

For entry-level jobs, having good grades from A to C at GCSE and A-Level will give you a good grounding to apply for positions. Subjects you should consider studying include:

If you plan to study Computer Science at university, having good A-Level passes in these subjects will help. As every university programme is slightly different, you should check the entry requirements of each course first of all.

It's also worth noting that coding is one of those jobs that doesn't necessarily require you to have any formal academic qualifications. Many of the top website and software developers don't have degrees, they stand out from the crowd based on their experience. There are many online courses that you could take to learn how to code, which we'll look at further in the section below.

Where can I learn to code?

School girls working on computers

There are a lot of coding courses available online

If you plan to pursue a career in software development with large organisations, then you might want to consider studying Computer Science at university. The Complete University Guide has a list of the top UK universities for studying Computer Science with Cambridge and Imperial College London topping the charts.

However, if you'd rather learn how to code by taking an online course, you might want to consider these websites:

If you enjoy coding, the chances are you love gaming. You could earn up to £17,000 a year as a games tester – which we think is one of the best jobs in the world.

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