Five reasons why it is not too late to learn coding in 2021

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I get a lot of people asking me if it’s too late to learn how to code.

Liwu, can I start a coding career in 2021? And from the title of this article, you might have probably guessed my answer to this: heck yes!

Now, I understand that there is a lot of information out there about Software Development. So much information that it may feel intimidating and overwhelming even to give it a try. Perhaps you think that you will have too much catching up to do, and it may take you forever to get to a place where you are comfortable building a website or a mobile app of your own. As much as I do not promise any quick results, I strongly feel that for those looking to change careers and become an active participator in this Digital Economy we’re living in, now is the perfect time to learn to program. Here’s why:

5. Low Barrier to Entry

Having been coding now for more than 12 years, I’ve never witnessed a time when learning resources have been as readily available as they are today. In 2021, hundreds of free high-quality YouTube videos will teach you everything you need to know to get started in a particular programming language. Some of my favorites are the full-length courses available on Free Code Camp’s channel, as well as Traversy Media’s surface-level overviews of languages. More and more professionals are cranking up coding blogs like the one you are currently reading, meaning that there is a wide variety of voices and styles available from which you can learn the same concepts. The Internet is a dream for anyone trying to learn today. In my day, we had to scramble for the one C++ book available in the college library!

4. Willingness to embrace Ethnic, Gender, and Education Diversity

Speaking of college, today, more and more employers from Big Tech are willing to look past the traditional stereotype of a capable engineer: the white, male Computer Science Degree holder. Given the demographic of my viewership, if you're reading this, there's a good chance that you are a person of color, hopefully female, and even more ambitiously that you do not have a formal education in Computer Science or IT. What we're seeing in tech culture today is an appetite to improve the appalling lack of diversity.

According to a 2020 Google Annual diversity report, 3.7% of its employees are black.

Admittedly there is still a long way to go, but the desire exists today more than it did ten years ago. Some say that getting a high-paying job at these companies as a black person is nothing more than mere tokenism. Regardless of what it is, the fact is that you are more likely as an under-represented newly-trained Software Developer to make a decent living today than at any other moment in history.

3. Growing Demand for Engineering Talent

Linkedin Remote Job Growth Even with the continual elimination of the gatekeepers, and increased adoption for coding in 2021, the reality is that software developers’ demand still outweighs the supply. The rate at which the need for software automation is growing is almost exponential. COVID-19 has made it so that more and more businesses have to automate their manual processes or face extinction. This demand has resulted in more job openings for traditional business programming (Enterprise) roles, which need skills such as Java, JavaScript, SQL, etc. However, non-traditional programming jobs are also on the rise, with new technologies such as Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality requiring a combination of skills different from those used in Enterprise jobs. With companies now embracing Remote Work, the pool of work has suddenly gotten bigger as you will not be required to relocate anymore to land your dream tech job!

2. Learn only the Good Parts

JavaScript vs JavaScript the Good Parts Copyright John Saddington

One advantage of learning something later than others is that you can pick up the latest ideas while disregarding the old ones. You're free from the burden of historic bad practices. A typical tech book, for example, will have several revisions as ideas evolve, and by getting into the game late, you save yourself the trouble of learning the wrong concepts. One of the most popular books on Web Development is called “JavaScript, the Good Parts.” By embracing a book that teaches only a subset of JavaScript, the community admits that there were many things wrong with the programming language’s original design. Some of us are still battling to unlearn old bad practices, but you don’t have to. And if you’re learning a new technology altogether, then heck, we are all starting from scratch, leading me to the last reason it is not too late to learn coding in 2021.

1. Jump in at the beginning of a new Trend

Coding, like fashion or music, tends to go through paradigm shifts every few years. Once upon a time, the way to build Apps was to drag and drop widgets from a Visual Basic palette. We then went through a phase of describing our User Interface in Markup text. Today the trend is to compose our UI in a tree of nested components. We keep adopting new ideas every time, and when we run out of fresh ideas, we reinvent the old ones. The main point here is, you get to learn the new paradigms together with everybody else as a new developer. And if your timing is right, you get to enter the scene right at the beginning of a new programming paradigm - making you as good as anyone at that particular topic. Go and Rust are relatively new languages solving a relatively new problem. And when you search job boards for openings in Go or Rust, you will typically see employers looking for only one year of experience because they realize these technologies are at the beginning of a new paradigm: the paradigm of concurrent programming.

So, did I convince you? Are these five reasons why I think that you should start coding enough for you to take it up, or are there other fears of yours that I have not adequately tackled here. Let me know if there are any other issues you face that hinder you from learning how to code. Let me know what sort of applications or use cases you would like me to explain more. I'll be happy to answer any of your questions in my DMS, but you may also be free to comment below.

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