Is coding a good career?

teen coding at laptop computer

Time to peel back the curtain and let the cat out of the bag…

I’m not a career counselor. I’m not in HR. I’m not even a coder (not a coder yet, he said optimistically). 

But if you’re here reading this, I’m going to guess you aren’t any of those things either. 

Even so, I’d argue that you’re actually one of the best people to answer whether or not coding is a good career. And, I’m pretty qualified myself, but for different reasons. 

You see, a “good” career is subjective.

A career counselor might tell you one thing based on their specific specialty angle, while an actual coder might tell you something completely different based on their real-life experience. 

And then I, as “blogger guy of this summer tech camp,” am pretty qualified to answer this question for you based on the fact that we have seen 450,000 students go through our programs (with many of those programs focusing on coding, specifically).

Why does this fact lend any sort of credibility? 

Because through these enrollment numbers, I see a lot of parents who believe in coding; families going out of their way to get their kids involved. 

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m pretty sure the reason a good portion of those families are doing so is because they feel the experience will better prepare their kids for college, internships, and future careers in coding. Said differently, they feel coding is a good enough career aspiration to put their hard-earned money towards it. To dedicate weeks of busy schedules. 

So, there you go—basically half an answer to the question. 

Here is the other half.

Is coding a good career?

Yes, coding is a good career because there is opportunity, and much of that opportunity is well-paid. Coding can also be a rewarding career given its impact on the everyday world, and can be fun for those with interests in a wide-ranging list of topics.

Here are detailed explanations of the different reasons why coding is a good career.  

Reasons coding could be a good career

Coding is a good career if your child will enjoy it

With every day that passes, the opportunity for someone to do something they love doing as a career becomes more and more real. Our parents weren’t afforded that luxury. There were only so many different types of jobs to do because the world was much simpler, for lack of a better term. I don’t have to detail how things have changed since then, but you get the point. 

So, if your child is showing an interest in coding, and they start becoming passionate about coding as a hobby and an area where they want to spend their free time, then you might be on to something in terms of coding being a good career. 

Coding is a good career because there is opportunity

I read this fact the other day—only about 1% of the US population can write code

Now, there are a lot of people in the US, so that works out to about 3+ million people in total, which is no small sum. 

But when you also consider how much time we all spend wrapped up in a digital world that is powered by coding, that figure seems low, right?

For confirmation, just take a google around. You’ll see there are 1M unfilled IT jobs in the US. And that tech-related jobs in the US have increased by 200K every year since 2010. And that tech job opportunities are emerging across a wide range of industries, from cloud computing to AI to the next big thing (which isn’t far off, whatever it may be). 

This all points to the fact that there is opportunity...and it’s not because we are in tech infancy, either. We all went digital a long time ago, and there are plenty of advancements and innovations to come. 

Coding is a good career because it pays well

Indeed recently identified the 25 best jobs of the year, stacking opportunities up across three metrics including “average pay, the share of the job title’s growth on the site in the past three years, and the number of postings for the job for every 1 million total listings on the site.” 

The top job? Software architect—a role that commands an average salary of $119,715 per year, and tends to require a degree in CS, software engineering, or a related field. 

The second-ranked job? Full stack developer—which commands an average base salary of $94,164 annually, and requires a diverse coding skillset. 

I won’t go through the full list, you can do that here, but other tech entries include:

  • Development operations engineer #5
  • Electrical engineer #6
  • Java developer #7
  • Data scientist #8
  • IT security specialist #9
  • Data engineer #12
  • Cloud engineer #20
  • IT technician #23

In other words, the list is dominated by tech, with many positions requiring some form of a coding skillset. 

Coding is a good career because it’s impactful

Closing the loop on some of the points made in the intro, coding is a good career for those who want to leave a visible mark on the world around them. 

Meaning, some people are totally OK with the fact that the hours of work they put in each day go virtually unnoticed by the outside world. They prefer to be behind the scenes and don’t need any sort of visible or tangible validation that what they are doing is consumed or required by others. 

But for those who do want to be able to say “See that thing right there? I helped build that,” coding is very much that career. 

For example:

  • Java is at the core of Android app development
  • Python forms the backend of Instagram, Spotify, Netflix, and more
  • C++ was used to develop the latest Microsoft Office suite and Unreal Engine
  • JavaScript allows for users to interact with web pages

See what I’m talking about? And that’s just a tiny sliver of the entire pie.

Coding career examples

There is a long list of coding careers to explore, but here are a few examples to give an idea of the range of the things in which coding plays a part. 

1. Software Engineer

In the future, games, apps, and technology in general will play even more of an integral part in our lives. Autonomous cars, robots, futurist shopping kiosks—such applications all need software, and that software will need to be programmed and developed by human coders for human users.

From mobile platforms, like phones and tablets, to location-based installations, cloud services, IoT, and more, code will be the backbone of our technological future. Kids who get familiar with the different coding languages, and begin to learn how to use and do things with such languages will make them desirable employees, no matter what career or industry they choose to pursue.

2. Augmented Reality & Virtual World Creator

VR and augmented reality will radically change the way we live our lives in the future. To escape from reality, we’ll inhabit virtual playgrounds like the one envisioned in Ready Player One.

The same “virtual” technologies will be used to educate us (imagine a classroom that suddenly turns into a platform in space or an African plain, as an instructor points out the Orion constellation or a rare bushbaby) and to sell us products.

As augmented reality and virtual reality become more commonplace, brands will use the technologies to create worlds around their products, to better connect with us and market to us.

There are many jobs in this space, from virtual worlds designer to avatar moderator and manager. Again, since these virtual worlds will be used and inhabited by humans, humans will be needed to oversee them.

3. Autonomous & Electrical Car Engineers

In case you haven’t noticed, gas cars are going the way of the Model T.  Electric cars are the future and research tells us that those same cars will have automated driving systems that will take the responsibility and worry of driving a car out of human hands. It will make our lives better, we’re told, because there will be less time stuck in traffic. Since these vehicles are going to be used by and interact with humans, who better to understand the needs of a human than a human engineer?

We’ll need those engineers to design and build vehicles. We’ll also need them to build the autonomous systems and networks that drive cars and route delivery vehicles, public transportation, general traffic, and emergency responders.

So, coding is a good career

Again, the answer hinges on goals. 

Does your child want a well-paying career? One that also has a number of different opportunities and avenues to explore, and is visible in its output and impact on general society? If yes, then coding sounds like a great fit. 

But importantly, does your child want a career they’ll enjoy? If yes, do they enjoy coding? 

If you don’t know the answer to that question, it sounds like it could be time to get started! 

There are a variety of ways to begin when it comes to both coding for kids and coding for teens—whether that’s an online coding course, after-school coding coursesummer coding camp, or coding app, with an online coding tutor, or something else entirely! 

Through it all - or through one thing of the many - I hope you find your answer.

A photo of Ryan

Ryan has been in EdTech and with iD Tech for 13 years—building experience, expertise, and knowledge in all things coding, game development, college prep, STEM, and more. He earned his MBA from Santa Clara University after obtaining his Bachelor’s degree from Arizona State. Connect on LinkedIn

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