Should I learn to code?

Sophie Gill · 4 November, 2019

As a Technical Coach I get asked this question pretty often! I also often hear it’s cousin - the declaration ‘I should learn to code!’

The UK has long had a technical skills gap, and in recent times there have been a wealth of programmes encouraging women to give coding a try. But, your time is limited, so how should you decide whether to invest some serious time and energy into learning to code? Here are some questions I recommend thinking about before taking the plunge.

Have you tried coding yet?

Before deciding whether to learn to code, it’s essential to give it a try. There are plenty of free courses out there - one of the most comprehensive is freeCodeCamp.

If you try it, and find yourself coming back for more, then that’s a great sign.

If you’re not interested in spending a bit of time learning the basics, then you’ll struggle to put in the long hours of dedicated work needed to become proficient.

Do you enjoy coding?

When you were working through the freeCodeCamp curriculum, did the hours slip by or did you find it difficult to concentrate?

When you get stuck on a new challenge, do you feel excited about the new learning opportunity or defeated?

If you’re struggling to get into ‘the zone’ when coding, or you feel stressed out everything something doesn’t do what you expect, then you might find learning to code stressful and boring.

Why do you want to learn to code?

Understanding your goals will help keep you going through the tough times. So, do you want to get a job as a developer? Build apps as a hobby? Help your kids learn to code?

Counter-intuitively, in my experience you have the best chances of success if you’re learning to code just because you enjoy it! If you don’t enjoy the challenge of coding, then you might find it difficult to keep going through tough times.

Do you want to learn to code?

By this I mean - do you actually want to learn to code?!

Anyone, and I mean anyone, can learn to code if they have the drive. But that drive has to come from within.

What if I don’t really want to learn to code?

That’s fine!

If you thinking about learning to code in order to build something, have a look at the range of no-code products out there (Zapier, Squarespace, Airtable etc etc). Maybe you can build your dream without coding?

Maybe you want to be involved in building technical products? If so, product management or UX training might provide the skills you need.

If you have been thinking about a career change, coding isn’t the only option! If you don’t have a degree then look into Apprenticeships in the UK, you get paid to re-train. And most career paths have great options available for re-training, whatever your age.

And, if you’ve been bitten by the coding bug, then there are loads of great learning resources and training options available.

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