Using the Google Chrome extension Keywords Everywhere, I found that the term “learn to code” is Google’d 74,000 times every month.
Depending on your tolerance for large numbers, 74,000 may seem like a lot or a little, but without another search term to compare it to, the number is meaningless.
The number is high compared to that of “learn to play guitar” which is is Google’d 33,100 times every month. But it’s low compared to that of “learn to fly” which is Google’d 135,100 times every month.
Evidently, learning to fly and learning to play the guitar are sought-after skills, and it seems like learning to code is right up there with them.
I was curious to see if learning to code is actually a sought-after skill, or if it’s just my immediate circle of software engineers, digital marketers and product zealots who believe this to be true.
I turned my attention to the Google search bar — it’s a quick way to gauge the interest of a term; you simply begin typing and see what Google recommends to you. Of course, you must account for the fact that Google provides recommendations that are tailored to your profile and therefore the results you see are heavily based on your activity, interests, previous searches, and more.
Decidedly, I logged out of my Google account to ensure there was no bias in my search results or search recommendations. Logged out, I typed in “learn to” on Google.
Here is what I saw …
“Learn to code” is the third search recommendation. However, if we are daring, we can say that this is an under-ranking.
I’m in Taipei, Taiwan as I write this, and because of my location, “learn to meow” is the number one search recommendation. “Learn to meow” is actually a viral Chinese song, and many of its viewers are in Taiwan; even though I’m logged out, my geolocation is still a small factor in Google’s search recommendations.
We can safely assume that this search recommendation is just a fad, a hot trend. If we remove this search recommendation from the list, “learn to code” jumps to number one. Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself, so let’s keep searching.
Next, I typed “where to learn”. Here is what I saw …
Here, the recommendations are dominated by programming languages like Python and Java. Specifically, of the 10 recommendations, six of them code are related. Again, the term “where to learn” has nothing to do with code; I was simply curious to see how Google finished my sentence.
When I type “how to learn to”, I see …
Here, you can see “learn to code” is the fourth recommendation. It’s up there with singing, drawing, and playing the guitar.
Based on my own experience as well as reading from and speaking with others, we learn to code to do one or more of the following:
Of these three, the first one may be the most useful to analyze because we can easily compare the demand for programming jobs with the demand for other kinds of jobs. So, let’s see what people are searching for with respect to jobs.
When I type “how to land a job as a ”, here is what I see …
We see “data analyst”, “web developer”, “software engineer”, and “python developer” in this list of 10 jobs; programming related jobs make up for 40% of the most Google’d jobs.
Based on all of our Google’ing so far, we can arrive at the two following conclusions:
There is another question, however. Are these people mostly from one country or one city, or are they spread around the globe?
Let’s find our answer in Google Trends.
I searched for “learn to code” in Google Trends. Here’s what I saw for the interest by region …
The top 9 countries searching for this term are:
Okay, so we know that coding is a sought-after skill around the globe. Let’s update our conclusions by adding a third one.
We can reduce the three conclusions into one simple and rather bold assertion: a lot of people are searching for code related matters, a lot.
Why do people want to learn how to code? Here are my 3 hypotheses:
According to US News Money, the median software developer salary in 2017 was $115,000. This is significantly higher than the median American salary of $61,372.
The pay certainly doesn’t look like it dissuades anyone from learning to code.
There are tons of resources that teach programming like web development and more …
These are just a few resources. Here is a bigger list of places you can go to learn to code cheaply, or freely.
These are places to learn to write code. However, computer science is more than just “writing code”. To be a productive software engineer, you should also have a good grasp of algorithms and data structures.
How expensive (or cheap) is this to learn online?
You can learn all you need to know about algorithms and data structures to get a job at any big tech company like Google, Uber, or Facebook with the book Elements of Programming Interviews.
This book comes in Java, Python, and C++, and it covers important data structures like Hash Tables and Trees while extensively detailing useful algorithms to solve commonly encountered problems or commonly asked interview questions. On Amazon, this book sells for $35.56 USD as of today (December 13, 2018).
InterviewCake is also a great resource for learning data structures and algorithms, as well as interview preparation. This platform takes you through key data structures and revealing interview questions, providing guidance along the way. The full course sells for $249 USD.
You will find tons of other books and resources online for similar prices (and even free). In fact, here is an extensive guide on tutorials to learn data structures and algorithms for programming interviews.
Let’s take a breather. We covered a lot of online resources for you to learn. Again, this is the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Tomorrow, a shiny new coding resource may appear. It’s the Internet, and anything and everything goes.
How do these online coding, data structures and algorithm tutorials compare to a formal computer science education such as a university degree or college diploma?
This is obviously much, much costlier than any of the online resources I listed above.
Therefore, unquestionably, tuition cost is an issue for those looking to attain a formal education. There is another quite obvious issue, too. Many young adults cannot afford to pay tuition on their own, so they take out loans. In fact, 70% of college students graduate with loan debt to pay.
Evidently, a formal computer science education may do more harm than good, at least in the short to medium term. However, 74% of parents believe computer programming is a necessary skill in today’s world.
Accordingly, a computer science education is needed or at least perceived to be needed in today and tomorrow’s economy. Luckily, as pointed out earlier in this paper, there are several ways to obtain a computer science (and/or programming) education with little to no cost.
Ryan Hoover, the founder of Product Hunt, asked a question on Twitter to gauge what aspect of a job people find the most valuable. He asked “Let’s say you’re looking for a new job. What’s most important to you?”.
Here are the results.
With 8695 votes, the most important aspect of a new job is the ability to work remotely. It’s clear that the ability to work from anywhere is deeply valued by the modern adult.
Now let’s apply this to software development, or simply, computer programming.
Computer programming is inherently a remote job because all you need, fundamentally, is a computer and an Internet connection.
Code is code. You can push code to the cloud with Github, instantly chat with your team members with Slack, track your project progress with Pivotal Tracker, and hold conference calls and meetings with Zoom.
To add clarity, the majority of remote jobs are programming related. On the remote job board WeWorkRemotely, programming jobs make up for almost 60% of all remote jobs.
Here is a better look.
If you want to work remotely, your best bet is to land a computer programming job. Alternatively, if you do computer programming, you have plenty of remote jobs to choose from, and you can find plenty of these jobs on remote boards like WeWorkRemotely, FlexJobs, and Remote OK.
Here is a comprehensive list of remote job boards.
Is coding a sought-after skill in 2019? Well, it’s Google’d a lot. You can draw your own conclusions from this, but seriously, I don’t think much deliberation is needed to say, yes, coding is a very sought-after skill.
Is coding the most sought-after skill? Maybe singing and drawing are more sought-after skills than coding. But is coding the most sought-after skill that can make you a living, help you travel and bring your passion to life? Yes, I’d safely say so.
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