• Larissa Lowthorp

If you're looking for a silver bullet, visit the antique store

I was a bit surprised when Andrew Tavin, from the Opploans Financial Sense Blog, reached out recently with a question. He wanted to know:

Is coding a silver-bullet to career success?

As someone who has been directly and tangentially involved with coding as a career path since long before it became a hot-ticket item, let's just answer this quickly with a big, fat NO.

I was surprised to hear that people think it is - enough people that he felt this required an article to discuss. As with any career, coding is hard work.

Some people will be wildly successful at it, and others will struggle to make ends meet. An entry-level coding professional can make $35,000 while a seasoned veteran with a proven track record, and a creative mindset, can earn well above $100,000 annually.

Odds of earning six figures as an entry-level coder are extremely low. While it is possible to achieve a level of financial security within a few years, it takes time to earn a salary on the higher end of this spectrum. If you're working as a freelancer or consultant, tech projects can end abruptly and you may find yourself scrambling to land your next gig.

In order to succeed, you must continually improve and evolve your skill set

Technology changes rapidly, and coders working the the corporate world, in particular, are frequently subject to a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mindset as companies strive to outplay their competition. Mobile technology is being adopted by the masses at a fast pace, corporate projects can take 18-24 months from inception to deployment of large-scale projects, and by that time, customers may have already moved on to something else. Coders need to keep abreast of these marketplace trends and adapt their approach throughout the project, and have the ability to communicate their reasoning within the corporate infrastructure in order to release a product that is both relevant and useful.

You must a solid strategy in place if you desire to move from the entry-level mark, avoid burnout (burnout is an epidemic in the technology industry. You will experience it at some point in your career. It's a high-stress job, and the bigger the project, the bigger the stakes - large companies who employ coders are poised to make - or lose - billions on major projects) and make it as a successful coder. Burnout can be so bad that it causes people who were once passionate about coding to pursue other careers.

Basic coding skills can supplement many careers, but will not guarantee a successful career

As the international market for coders is quite saturated, competition can drive down the bid price for freelance developers, thus making the ability to specialize in a particular niche or type of coding paramount if one is looking toward this as a career. Career coders must be mindful as to how competitive the job can be. Yes, the most highly-paid programmers and coders can make a lot of money, but due to over-saturation in certain areas of the profession, both hourly rates and salary wages can, in reality, be much lower, than those six figures you may be dreaming about.

Code because you love to code, not because you desire a stable, lucrative career

As a professional coder, the ability to command a higher wage comes experience and, on occasion, dumb luck. I strongly encourage all coders and coders-to-be to pursue interesting, creative projects which challenge you and expand your skill set. A client of mine recently hired a developer with the ability to think out-of-the box in a way that no other programmer we had spoken to could. THIS skill is what will set you apart. Experience in coding is interesting, as it does not necessarily equate to cumulative years in the profession (although it can, but the relationship is non-linear). Experience, as a coder, can equate to challenges faced, problems solved, and success in trial-by-fire scenarios.

Knowing how to code is only one piece of the puzzle

Knowing how to break the rules of your programming language, pull it apart, creatively construct new syntaxes in a way that the logic understands is what will set you apart from the rest. In a job market that is flooded with new recruits, all championing to be Google or Apple's next hot developer and to make their mark in the fast-paced technological evolution, individuals looking to coding as a career must keep this top-of-mind.

A willingness and ability to experiment, and to fail, until you get it right, is the silver bullet to career success as a coder

A programmer/coder/developer (related, but not entirely interchangeable professions) can code things exactly the way they “should” work and due to incompatibilities with other areas of code within the framework, things don’t work properly and you may need to go line by line, character by character to find the error. It requires a high level of patience and attention to detail. Coding requires one to use both sides of their brain as it utilizes logical critical thinking skills as well as intuitive and imaginative aspects of one’s psyche.

Coding requires a high level of precision as well as the ability for creative problem-solving

If you love those “AHA” moments of having come up with an out-of-the-box solution to a difficult problem, or creating things that make a difference in people’s lives, coding may be a good career for you.

Want to learn more and hear other insights from industry professionals about coding as a so-called silver bullet? Read the full article from OppLoans below.

Is Coding the Right Career Path for You?

The below article was originally published in OppLoans Financial Sense Blog

May 31, 2019 | Written by: Andrew Tavin

Learning to code might not be a silver bullet to slay your job and salary-related woes, but coding is a very useful—and employable—skill to have.

Having trouble finding a good job? Or maybe you were just fired? Well, don’t worry, because there’s an easy, obvious solution: coding!

From wealthy philanthropists to annoying people on Twitter yelling at laid-off journalists, many people seem to be suggesting that coding is the silver bullet to getting a great, well-paying career.

But is that true? Not exactly.

What is coding anyway?

You probably have a basic (ha) idea of what coding is, but just in case, let’s review quickly. A program is a set of instructions telling a computer or similar device what to do. Programs are written in a programming language, and the process of writing in one of those languages is coding. Some programming languages include Python, Java, and Ruby, but those are just three of many, many examples.

However, even if you aren’t looking to become a software developer, there may still be jobs that require or benefit from coding ability. Most companies above a certain size are going to require someone who has a level of coding skills. That’s one reason why having coding skills can open up a lot of opportunities in the job market.

Coding is a great skill to build

Not only is coding a great skill to develop, but it’s one that you could theoretically learn and practice for free.

“The appeal of coding as a so-called silver bullet toward good job prospects is that it is a tried-and-true profession, and with the advent of the mobile web and applications, it has become a mainstream profession,” explained Larissa Lowthorp, founder and president of TimeJump Media (@timejumpmedia).

“The bar to entry to coding as a profession is easier to access than many, as it does not necessarily require a degree—if you know it, you know it.

“There are many free and low-cost resources and coding boot camps available online. You can learn from books, videos, and by practicing—coding is a mobile career that can be done as part of the corporate infrastructure or as a freelancer. It can migrate between clients of all sizes.

“There are many different types and applications of coding, and there will be crossover to backend programming development. Larger companies such as Amazon, IBM, and Google have recently removed the requirement for a degree for their programmers and coders, making the profession more accessible to many.”

Learning to code is not a silver bullet

Nurturing coding ability is never going to be a bad idea. But you shouldn’t get your expectations up too high. Maybe you should think about it less as a silver bullet, and more like a bronze or lead bullet—which is what bullets have been traditionally made from, after all.

Or even better, consider it just one tool in your employment arsenal that might not be a bullet at all!

“Programming is no silver bullet to your career,” cautioned Gloria Metrick, owner of GeoMetrick Enterprises. “If a platform or tool is ‘hot’ then everyone wants to get into it. What got you a job, initially, becomes overcrowded and commoditized, at some point. Then, the smart person would think that they should learn the next ‘hot’ thing.

“Unfortunately, it’s not easy to convince people who want your current skill set to give you an opportunity on something new. Partly, they want to keep you working with what you already have experience with.

“The other issue is that others are already getting experience in the new area. In addition, they will probably be younger and want less money than you do because, as you realize, you have experience in programming, overall, that could be applied. But it doesn’t always translate that easily.

“In addition to all of this, programmers age more quickly than some other professions. In programming, while there are many experienced programmers with some grey hairs, they’re not always as welcome on projects.

“That’s especially true considering those of us who write code are generally seen as commodities, even when we have special skills and experience. With that, many companies don’t see the purpose of hiring anyone but the youngest and cheapest widgets, er, I mean, people.”

Employers know that basic (ha) coding ability isn’t nearly as rare as it used to be.

Which means that many of them, including one we talked to, are going to look for additional factors when it comes to hiring.

“While skilled developers are in high demand these days, having basic ‘coding’ skills is neither a silver bullet nor a guarantee of employment,” explained Garry Brownrigg, CEO and founder of Quicksilk(@QuickSilk). When evaluating candidates, we consider their problem-solving capabilities as well as their ability to step into the shoes of our clients, not just their coding skills.

“We hire candidates that embrace low code and AI software development that negates the need for users to have any development skills whatsoever—which requires that every member of our development team is constantly learning new technologies and standards.”

Is it right for you?

OK, now that your expectations are in a reasonable place, it’s time to find out if coding is right for you!

“Coding is worth pursuing for people that love logic problems, that are creative and love experimenting, and are self-motivated when it comes to creating things from scratch,” offered Joe Bailey, operations manager at My Trading Skills (@MyTradingSkills).

“If you hate sitting for long hours and want normal working hours, or if you can’t motivate yourself, then coding might not be the best skill for you to pursue. You’ll just be punishing yourself unnecessarily.”

Want some more examples of personality traits that might be conducive to coding? Here you go!

“Coding requires great attention to detail: a single misplaced semicolon can prevent an entire application from running,” warned Sean Sessel, founder and director of The Oculus Institute.

“Another aspect of coding is that it will bring more pleasure to task-focused introverts than people-focused extroverts. If you require social engagement to recharge your energy, then long hours in front of a computer are not for you.

“Finally, coding requires a mathematical mind. If you’re a detail-focused introvert yet numbers and systems and quantitative thinking aren’t your forte, you’ll be better off learning marketing copywriting.

“All this said, if you are a detailed-focused, introverted, mathematical thinker who is willing to put in the effort to master multiple languages as well as connect them to each other and the business context, coding can definitely be a road to riches and freedom.

“At that level, it pays extremely well (easily $100/hr to $200/hr, and sometimes higher), and it’s a skill that’s very well suited to freelancing so that you can work from anywhere in the world, when you want, how you want.”

So you want to learn to code. How?

Have you reached this point of the article and decided that you’d like to take a swing at this coding thing? Well, as was mentioned earlier, it can be quite easy and cheap to get started.

“Perhaps the best part is that coding doesn’t require a highly expensive, multiyear degree to get started,” advised Sessel. “You can learn a lot for free at and on YouTube videos, as well as taking structured courses for very little on Udemy or other online course repositories.

“The best path is to build skills using these free or low-cost options and then start actually doing freelance work for people, which will expose you to a wide variety of different situations and thus give you the ability to build your skill repertoire quickly. Coding is something that is best learned by doing, and you can even start making money as you build the skill set!”

If you are planning to attend a traditional university, you can work coding into your education even if you’re not working on a major focused around programming or development.

“Combine programming with some other specialty,” suggested Metrick. “There are many degree programs for combinations such as laboratory informatics or bioinformatics, where you’re combining two areas. In these examples, science and programming. As with anything else, doing this is no guarantee toward getting a job but it can help.

“Look for opportunities to grow. If you get a chance to learn something else, such as project management, business analysis or other skills that work along with programming, give them a try. Then, if you entirely get pushed out of programming jobs you at least have some other experience to apply to other types of jobs.”


Represented by: Jacelyn P. Johnson, Director

MTM Agency, Minneapolis
For booking inquiries, call (763) 333-1650 

Copyright © 2020 Larissa Lowthorp.

Website created by TimeJump Media.

All Rights Reserved.