From the time you wake up in the morning until the time your head hits the pillow at night, code surrounds you. It sets your alarm off just before dawn, brews your morning cup of coffee, and helps you check your e-mail on the way to work. There is coding in almost every modern device. Anything with a computer chip runs some kind of code. Coding, also known as computer programming, is writing the language that tells your electronic devices what to do and how to do it.
Some codes are simple, some complex. The complexity of the code directly relates to the complexity of the device and the purpose of the code. The code for a simple battery-operated alarm clock is less complex than the alarm function on a smartphone or smart watch.
Learning to code is much like learning a new language. In fact, there are a wide variety of coding languages and while some may share a similar features, each is unique. There are nine coding languages that are generally more common than all others. Let’s consider a few of the reasons why you should learn to “speak” any of these languages, as well as a few of the places where you can learn them.
A quick Google search will show you that there are thousands of digital coding dialects. While a complete list of languages may never be completely compiled, comprehensive lists seem to pepper the internet. The nine most common coding languages are:
- C# (Sharp)
- SQL (Sequel)
Experienced coders often argue about which code in the above list is the most valuable to know. Deciding which language you should study will depend on the purpose for which it is being used. Some languages work only within certain operating systems. Others are only used to create online programs or apps.
If you are looking to learn coding, it’s important to first identify what you want to accomplish before you dive into learning a specific code.
Why coding is important
There are many different reasons to learn code. Listed below are four of the most important reasons.
Understand how your world works
Learning to code helps to illuminate how the electronic world works, virtually speaking of course. Coding runs the technology we carry with us each day. As our technology advances, a basic understanding of how your devices talk to each other will actually increase your ability to use your devices to their fullest. When miscommunication occurs between your Android phone and your Apple TV, you will have the knowledge to fix the issue.
Building and maintaining websites
Everyone has a website these days. Whether they are creating a blog or running a small business, everything has a presence online. Knowing how to code will help you create, maintain, and improve personal and professional websites.
As I mentioned before, learning to code is like learning a new language. And if you are not adept at learning new languages, then learning code can be difficult. The upside to doing anything that is difficult is the sense of accomplishment that comes when you gain mastery over it. With increased confidence, comes a knowledge of your true value.
Wise professionals are always looking to make themselves more valuable. This is more true in the corporate world than maybe any place else. Degrees and certificates tell current and future employers that you possess certain skills. But showing those employers what your skills can do for their business is far more valuable. When you know how to code you will also increase your potential salary. Remember to keep a portfolio of your work to prove your skill.
Where do I learn to Code?
You can learn to code in a classroom environment or online. Most accredited universities offer a bachelor’s degree in computer programming. Some universities even offer master’s and doctoral degrees in these subjects. In most undergraduate programs, students gain some experience with each language. How much you focus on each language will depend on the coursework required by the university and professor.
An alternative to classroom learning is online learning. There are thousands of online universities and instructional sites where you can learn the various languages of code — many of them free. These institutions are more likely to focus on individual languages and enable students more time to completely understand the subtle nuances of a particular form of coding.
Sites like Codecademy, Codewars, and DevTips offer excellent free courses. Some sites offer certifications in the languages studied or a general certification of understanding. These certifications are often site specific and may not carry the same weight in the industry.
While there are many excellent certifications available, some certifications might be more valuable to have than others. The value of specific certification will depend on whether the organization you work for values that ability. One widely recognized certification is the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD). An MCSD-credentialed individual is trained to create apps for Windows products. Other widely recognized certifications come from Amazon Web Services, Devops, and Google Apps and are seen as excellent credentials to have.
Information technology is a rapidly evolving field. Just as coding certificates that were popular five years ago are not as useful today, the certifications of today may not be as useful tomorrow. It’s important to remember that, whatever certification you pursue, keep your eyes open for the next breakthrough in technology.
If you follow trends within the digital world, you will be able to stay up-to-date on which coding languages are the most sought-after in the current market. Regardless of where you decide to study computer programming, your ability to code will depend entirely on your drive to learn more. Even the best educated coders need practice and hands-on experience with the work to get better.