Computer tech is now widely viewed as a great area for career reinvention. Young people, career changers and even retirees are now packing into classes that are designed to teach coding languages and web development. But while this certainly appears to be an area where there’s strong ongoing need for workers, there are no guarantees. It’s important to spend some time learning what the options are and figuring out what you can actually be good at before rushing into a degree program or one of the many new coding schools out there.
Outside of the major schools that provide computer science degrees, new teaching platforms are springing up like crazy. They range from coding “boot camps” that can cost over $20,000. to online courses from Udemy and Linda.com, that can cost less than $30.
If you’re looking at building up a tech skill, here are three key questions to consider:
- 1) What particular area of development should you learn about?
- 2) Where should you study, and is a degree important?
A computer science degree can be an advantage in a job hunt, and it can also provide you with a general background in tech that can make it easier to adapt to the constant changes that go on in the industry. But there have been plenty of success stories with people who have simply learned a single language or skill they can get paid for, and then gradually developed their skills further after they’ve started making money. A big secret in the developer world is that it’s possible to get paid for learning new skills. Experienced developers simply learn to use online resources like StackOverflow.com to find the code they need to complete new assignments, rather than trying to create much of anything themselves.
In terms of coding schools, it’s advisable to dip your toe in the water before committing to any particular specialty. Googling “developer courses for newbies” can turn up lots of interesting possibilities. Most courses on Udemy.com, for example, offer a free preview where you sample the kinds of things you will be studying. Spend time reviewing several possibilities before diving into one. Also be aware that a typical mistake of new developers is to try and learn too many different things at once. Figure out what you want to focus on for at least the next 2 – 3 months, and when you’ve gained proficiency in one thing, try a next step.
- 3) Will you be able to actually learn what you need to in order to become a “coder”?
Perhaps the two best things about learning to code are that A) just about every type of company on earth needs tech developers nowadays and B) there are lots of opportunities for “flex” type jobs involving part-time or variable hours or even work at home. Finally, it can be lots of fun to actually built things and see them work!