The new year is here once again, which means you will begin to do things that you didn't feel like doing last year. But at least you will attempt them before you completely give up on them. And if learning to code is on that list, then this is as good a time as any. Programming, for the most part, can be an entertaining endeavor at the least and a financially fruitful career if you play your cards right and take it all the way.
And the entryway into programming has never been as simple as it is today. You have classes springing up everywhere for free or for a small fee. Everything is going open-sourced and coding communities are plentiful these days. So the following are the 5 best reasons to get into programming this year, if you have been thinking about doing it and just never had the time.
1. There are plenty of resources available
For the most part, learning to code has incredibly low friction. You can watch thousands of hours of video online for free with good-hearted people attempting to show you how to code. Documentation is plentiful as well for most programming languages and technologies that are popular these days.
During the past decade, online communities have formed and have done a phenomenal job at asking and answering questions regarding most aspects of technology. Just with StackOverflow alone, you can navigate your way to learning a tech that you didn't know before.
The resources are all there and they aren't going anywhere. It is up to you, however, to piece them together in the right order in order to make something fruitful appear.
2. Most of the programming software is now free
About 10 years ago when I first began programming, most software cost money. You couldn't really program without spending cash on something and for the most part, it was not a cheap venture. You had to pay to license out IDE's and Database servers, domain names weren't cheap and server hosting wasn't either. And many times, if you wanted to learn a new technology you had to take the "official" courses offered by the company who created the technology, usually at some cost also. And then after that, you had to pay for some form of certification showing that you had decent enough knowledge of a technology that you were hireable.
How quickly things change. Most of what I just mentioned is no longer relevant. You can go online today and download any framework and programming language IDE for free pretty much. There are dozens of free hosting providers online if you just wish to test out the waters as well. Database servers are free and plentiful and come in a variety of flavors, as do operating systems even. So with this mix of free learning material, free programming software and free server space, it's harder and harder to find reasons not to do it.
But again, it comes down to following a path that is of least resistance for you. And by that I mean, you won't be installing the full Android Development stack with zero knowledge in coding. But you'll probably start with some basic text editor already on your machine. And then transition over to a medium level IDE like VS Code, which is fantastically simple to use and comes with a plethora of features.
3. The number of startups is increasing
A big part of the demand from programmers during the past few years has been largely in part to the number of startups that are popping up left and right. Many of these startups are getting investment capital flowing in which means, you guessed it, employees. The interesting thing about most startups is that they have to monitor their cash flow to some extent, which means they won't be hiring the senior full stack developer for 200k a year.
They equally do not have HR departments scouring the internet for the just the right fit. They need to hire and they need to hire this week in order to ship out features and products. Which means the job market is both plentiful and pretty open-ended as far as talent is concerned. If you make it a point to learn a certain technology stack and to learn it well, you are equally as qualified really as someone with a college degree and some would even say more qualified because you aren't spending your time taking classes which don't interest you.
4. Technology isn't going anywhere
Sure, maybe 20 years ago becoming a programmer may not have been the most clever idea you could have. For one, it was incredibly complex and education was expensive and secondly, nobody knew what it was. People were excited over color monitors at some point in time. And for decades, a computer really just meant a spreadsheet and a calculator.
Needless to say, nowadays, it's ingrained into most facets of daily life. And the odds of everyone just dropping this "technology" thing and going home isn't likely. The exponential growth of technology will only grow more massive in the next few decades. And you can definitely be a part of that to some extent. And while you won't be working as a linguistic software expert for Google anytime soon, you could very well be the one building websites for businesses in your community or for yourself.
Every single person gets ideas all day long. The more aware you are of how a technology works, the more you can begin to piece together your ideas into a real-world example using that technology. Which is pretty liberating. You can quickly create a splash page to a product that you think would be cool, buy some ad space, and gauge the reaction of the people in days. In the past, this wasn't as simple and these ideas would just float on by.
5. People seem to genuinely enjoy it
This reason might sound strange because it is. But every non-technical person that I encounter that even attempts to be somewhat technical seems to enjoy it to a large extent. They enjoy it much more than me, I'll say that. But that's not to say that I don't. I just enjoy it from a different perspective than most. While many enjoy seeing their visual images come to life on a PC screen, I personally enjoy seeing solutions to problems pop up before my eyes.
Regardless of the reasons, people seem to find it fun to get technical. The look on people's faces when they manage to get an image to show on a webpage is both, confusing and nice to see. And I know why they are so ecstatic at such things. It's because to many, websites were once these cryptic things that you had to call your programmer neighbor to come and fix for you. So once you take a peek behind the curtains, that terrifying feeling that you deleted your favorite website vanishes. Once you know that clicking on links won't destroy your PC or have you arrested, then you can have the fun of clicking on all the links just to see what they do.
This is why using the computer seems so stressful to many who are new to technology. Because they feel this heavy responsibility creep over them over this technical beast. But like with anything, once you know how it works, that veil is gone and you are free to enjoy it to a much higher extent.
So if you've sort of been thinking about starting to create a website, app or any other kind of application then start now. Google "How to create a ______" and then see where the rabbit hole leads you. And then hours later when you peek back out into normal existence, realize that you will see the world in a slightly different angle and that the interwebs are no longer as mysterious as they once were.
Walter G. is a software engineer with over 10 years of professional experience. When he isn't blogging or being a CTO he enjoys coding randomly complex things that he hopes many people will get a chance to use one day.