Should you learn to code?

Tim Ferris has a net worth of over $100 million and I was fascinated to read his latest blog “Ten lessons I learned while teaching myself to code”. Why would someone so successful and wealthy learn to code?

There seems to be three main reasons why people should learn to code:

  1. Career progression and protection.

  2. Side hustle opportunities.

  3. Become a logical thinker and more creative.

Why I am learning to code?

I am approaching 50 and I have decided that I need to learn to code. When I was in my twenties I did a little bit of Basic programming but really haven’t done any coding since then.

So why have I know decided to learn to code?

Last year I decided to investigate Amazon Web Services (AWS) to see what all the fuss was about and decided that the easiest way to get an understanding was to do an online course through edX called “AWS Developer: Building on AWS” which is a really fantastic course. To get people like myself going with AWS they offer a generous free licensing tier and on the course we learnt about EC2, S3 and then built an application to store photos and lastly used AWS Rekognition to add tags to the stored photos. The language that was used to build the application is Python.

My next area of AWS discovery was AWS Connect which is a hosted call centre solution. AWS services that support AWS Connect are AWS Polly – turns text into lifelike speech, AWS Lex – building conversational interfaces into any application using voice and text, AWS Transcribe – speech to text capability and, of course, AWS Lamba – runs code in response to events. I discovered the glue that ties these AWS products together, and connects AWS Connect to other non-AWS applications, is code and the programming language that seems most common is Python.

Lastly every computer company in the world is interested in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Coding is a key component in AI and again Python is the main language used for this.

So I have selected Python and am starting on what seems a long journey of learning to code. There are a lot of free resources with my favourite again being an edX course titled “Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python” although it looks like it might be removed in the middle of April.

Reasons to learn to code

1. Career progression and protection

Here is an extract from the Tim Ferris article mentioned in the introduction above - “Ten lessons I learned while teaching myself to code”.

"So, you want to learn to code.

Join the club! We live in a time when, as the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen famously put it, “…software is eating the world.” So the people who know how to program are in a catalytic spot; they can make things happen. Maybe you’ve watched this from the sidelines and thought: Huh. Could I learn to do that? Perhaps you’re out of school; maybe you can’t afford either the money or the time to go back and do a four-year degree in computer science. You’ve seen a zillion of these online tutorials in coding. Could you just sort of, well, teach yourself?

The short answer is: Sure you can."

Writing code is become as essential as reading and writing. I found an article from the The Irish Times titled “Coding will be the most important skill in the future” which I think states this nicely:

“A whole new tongue – the language of computers – will be what separates the educated from the ignorant masses of tomorrow. Understanding how to write code for computers is already becoming one of the most highly prized skill sets anyone can have in the global economy.”

2. Side hustle opportunities

The gig economy is a reality and Forbes magazine in an article written on 31 August 2018 reported on a poll in the US that found that 36%, or 57 million workers, where part of the gig economy.

There is no question in my mind that this will continue to increase and there is a very good chance that my children – aged 4 and 7 – will not work in formal employment as I have. I also imagine that I will probably complete my working life employed in the gig economy.

If I believe this is going to be the future working reality then it makes sense to start transitioning now, learn to code and start a side hustle in the evenings and weekends.

3. Become a logical thinker and more creative

Here is an extract form an article I found on titled “5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Learn Programming

“Programmers think in a very structured way rather than looking directly at the big picture and missed the smallest details. Programmers, when they are given a problem to solve, they don’t just start to code it right away. What they do is they to break it down into workable pieces and then get on it.

When you learn how to program, you develop this kind of habit. You work your way out in a structured format, meaning, you gradually program your brain to break every problem down into pieces so that you can understand it better. You then start to think in a logical way and this gives you more creative solutions than before.”


Apart form the reasons mentioned above I also believe that once my children have learnt to read and write then learning to code will be next. My 6 year old daughter already has an opportunity to do a Robotics extra murual activity and so learning to code might be much sooner than I think. If I think this is vital for my children – and I do – then I would like to join them on this journey.

Are you able to code? Are you thinking of learning to code? What are your reasons for wanting to learn? I would be very interested in hearing your opinions and perhaps we can encourage each other. We can even belong to the same clan on Codewars 😊.

The views expressed within the blog are my own and do not represent the views of the company I work for.

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