Google ‘why learn to code’, and almost every blog and motivational article you find will lead with an argument about high salaries and job satisfaction. This is understandable: programmers are in very high demand, and in most industrialised countries they do earn a lot more than the average employee.
Precisely because coding is such an attractive skill in terms of employment, however, we tend to forget that there are many good reasons to learn to code which have nothing to do with either finding or doing work.
Think we’re making this up? Here are five you might want to think about when considering a career in coding.
Learning to code makes you better at problem-solving
Arguably, coding is problem-solving, albeit of a specific type. Here is the key thing to keep in mind though:
Just because the implementation of code is restricted to the world of computers, doesn’t mean that the mental processes going into coding are similarly limited.
On the contrary, learning to code will compel you to think more logically than you ever did before, while also teaching you to deconstruct some potentially highly complex problems into smaller, more manageable units. In formal terms, knowing how to think like that means understanding logic and analysis, which have been recognised as essential to all problem-solving since the days of Classical Greece.
Knowing code can support your passions and hobbies
Say that you’re an artist, and that your favorite thing in the world is to paint beautiful pictures. You don’t need coding skills to paint, obviously, but you will find them exceedingly useful when it’s time to bring your art to others, or to reach out to artistic circles and communities. You will be able to build your own website and have it match your vision perfectly, without having to rely on uniform public templates or having to pay a freelance programmer.
Web development is one skill that will let you connect to others no matter what you like to do, be it painting and composing music or camping and playing board games, but it’s far from the only useful thing you can learn. There are hundreds of ways our everyday activities can be made smoother by organising (or in some cases even automating) parts of them with a computer program.
You will be supremely computer literate
The standards for what qualifies as “computer literate” nowadays are pretty variable. Sometimes it’s enough to set up Netflix on your grandparents’ TV to earn a reputation as the family geek.
Whatever the standard may be, however, you are guaranteed to leave it behind by a light-year if you learn to code. Once you understand how software works and what it’s actually ‘made’ of, 90% of the trouble that you previously had with computers and smartphones will become a thing of the past, and those abstruse error messages that used to puzzle you will be as obvious as the colors of a traffic light.
This isn’t just good for your comfort and peace of mind, but also for your personal safety. The risk of having your personal information hacked or accidentally downloading a computer virus decreases exponentially if you simply know what you’re doing with computers.
It’s a great thing to teach your children
If you are a parent, teaching your children the rudiments of how to code a program is an enormous gift you can give them. I have argued before that not being shown how to code as a child is the main reason why coding is surrounded by such a mystique of intractable difficulty, and this would address the problem at the root.
This wouldn’t just be good for your child, but for yourself as well. This sort of educational activity can provide a parent-child relationship with something durable and valuable. In our ever-changing world, it will also help to ensure that you don’t fall behind the world of your children as they grow up. Or at least not as much – keeping up with the future pop fads for kids and teenagers is something even coding can’t do for you!
It will enhance your self-worth
We left this one for last because it’s not exclusive to coding. But it’s true all the same: learning a new skill, especially one as highly valuable as coding, is one of the best ways to feel better about yourself. It will boost your overall confidence and make you feel that there is value in you and in what you do, both intellectually and professionally. And this by itself should be reason enough to learn anything.