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What’s Coding and How Can It Help Your Career?

A man and a woman looking at a screen.

Coding, generally defined as a process for writing computer software, has emerged as one of the most valuable skills workers can have; the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), estimates approximately 50,500 new programming jobs will open up through 2024, including roles for coders.

But what is coding? How do you acquire coding skills? And how can you put them to work to further your career? Here’s what you need to know.

Coding basics

Coding and programming are often used to refer to the same thing. When you write code, you’re essentially telling the computer what to do.

Coders communicate what they want using special coding languages. According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the current most-popular coding languages are:

  • Python

  • C

  • Java

  • C++

  • C#

Each language has its own set of instructions coders use to create programs. Coders use abbreviations, commands, and text arrangements to build software.

Which industries employ coders?

While coding is a tech skill, it’s not exclusive to tech companies. According to the ESDC, Canadian coders and programmers work in:

  • 46% professional, scientific and technical services

  • 13% information and cultural industries

  • 9% public administration

  • 8% finance and insurance

  • 8% manufacturing

  • 5% wholesale trade

Canadian coders work snapshot:
  • 97% work full-time

  • 15% are self-employed

  • 18% belong to a programmers’ union

  • $35.90/hour is the median wage for coders

Becoming a coder

There are two main paths for gaining the education and skills necessary to work in programming:

  • Earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related discipline.

  • Completing a coding bootcamp.

What’s a coding bootcamp? These intensive training programs are designed to help those interested acquire the necessary skills to work as coders, and typically last from 3-to-6 months.

Bootcamps by the numbers:

Why is coding a skill worth pursuing

There are several good reasons to acquire coding skills, even if you decide not to work in a tech field. For instance:

  • Coding skills can easily transfer to many industries, including finance, agriculture, marketing, entertainment, healthcare, and even the arts, potentially making you more attractive to employers.

  • Coding can be the springboard to landing a first job, or moving in a new career direction as the skills are highly sought after by employers.

  • Because the nature of writing code is problem solving, coding education may improve critical thinking skills, which 60% of employers say are highly important.

  • Coding may also improve communication and collaboration skills, which can be important when working in a team environment.

If you’re considering learning to code, remember to think about your the return on investment for earning a computer degree or attending a coding bootcamp. While acquiring a new skill may help further your career, there are no guarantees, so it’s important to balance potential rewards with the cost.