How to Improve Your Coding Skills and Land a Job
By The Grace Hopper Program Team
Coding has become a crucial, in-demand skill. An increasing number of employers are looking for coders to join their teams–and fill new roles requiring coding knowledge. Learning to code or advancing your current skills can improve your job prospects and open new career paths for you. When considering how to improve your coding skills, understanding the different routes you can take is important to your success.
How to Learn Coding Skills
Ways to learn to code include self-teaching through books and online resources, traditional university programs, and bootcamps. These learning avenues offer different benefits, and keeping your goals in mind when choosing which to pursue is key to success. Each one can be effective depending on what you hope to get out of your coding journey. Self-teaching, for example, gives you the flexibility to learn at your own pace over a long period, while traditional university courses can offer more structure and support.
As opposed to self-teaching and traditional university courses, coding bootcamps can provide you with immersive training and a helpful structure that allows you to learn and hone coding skills in a short amount of time.
For those who don’t have the time or budget to enroll in a traditional university program, coding bootcamps offer an effective alternative avenue for coding qualification and education. In addition, you can find bootcamps that cater to your specific interests and goals. For example, some bootcamps offer a general education on a variety of coding languages and topics, such as front-end and back-end development, and others provide a deep dive into a specific programming language.
Resources for Learning to Code
As you prepare to embark on your coding education, you should determine how to learn coding skills in a way that aligns with your goals and ambitions. Before making a final decision on which route is right for you, teaching yourself some coding basics can be beneficial.
Today, a number of free and easy-to-access resources can help you learn the basics of coding and become informed about the different coding roles you can eventually pursue. These resources include books on specific coding languages, video tutorials, and open-source platforms.
One platform that has become a staple in the coding community is GitHub, which makes it easy for coders and developers of any stage to use the Git open-source version control system. GitHub makes it easier for coders to branch and merge code by duplicating various source codes and building upon them. Beginner coders can gain valuable experience by learning from free resources and working in open-source version control systems.
Though self-teaching can be a great way to learn basic coding skills, it requires self-discipline and can be less useful for advanced concepts. To further develop their coding expertise, most people benefit from a more structured and in-depth form of learning, such as a bootcamp, which can provide guidance, structure, and support that self-teaching can’t.
Coding Tips for Improving Your Programming Skills
Using free and accessible resources to teach yourself can be a great way to gain a basic, foundational understanding of coding. However, moving beyond this to learn advanced coding concepts can be difficult when teaching yourself. Opting for courses that can offer you the proper guidance and support, such as through bootcamps or traditional university programs, can improve your chances of successfully gaining the coding expertise needed to land a job in the field.
When choosing a course of study, it’s important to know what languages are required for you to pursue your specific coding goals. Here are some of the most popular coding languages and some coding tips to help improve your skills:
HTML and CSS
Those looking for HTML and CSS coding tips are in luck, as a number of accessible resources are out there. Here are some coding tips to improve your HTML and CSS coding skills:
Keyboard shortcuts: Learning keyboard shortcuts can be a great way to save time when learning to code. Though it may not seem like a priority, the time you save by utilizing keyboard shortcuts will add up in the long run. By becoming more familiar with keyboard shortcuts, you’ll become a faster and more efficient coder.
Cheat sheets: For both HTML and CSS, referring to cheat sheets can be extremely useful. Cheat sheets can contain various elements, tags, and technical terms, which can help make the learning process more accessible and less daunting. Sites like HTMLCheatSheet and SimpleHTMLGuide offer cheat sheets for both HTML and CSS.
Python is an open-source program language that developers can employ for a number of applications. Organizations such as Google, Microsoft, Netflix, and Slack use Python—making it one of the most popular programming languages. Python can be used in web development, video game development, graphical user face development, and more. It’s particularly important to learn for those interested in becoming back-end or full-stack developers.
Here’s how to improve your Python coding skills:
Leverage the Python shell: The Python shell is an interactive tool that helps users become familiar with Python basics and more comfortable using the language. By interacting with the shell, you’ll pick up new habits and internalize key Python concepts.
Find a community: Sharing one’s Python journey with others can be extremely helpful when learning the language. Scores of current Python users are happy to answer questions and offer advice to others learning the language.
Jobs You Can Get With Coding Skills
Individuals with coding skills are in high demand in today’s job market. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the demand for software development jobs will grow by 22% between 2020 and 2030, nearly triple the average growth rate of professions in the United States. This strong job outlook comes as a result of more products that require software and people to create and maintain it.
For those interested in pursuing a career that involves coding, it can be helpful to have a clear understanding of the coding roles available. Here are some jobs you can get with coding skills.
Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems analysts study an organization’s computer systems and use their findings to make them more efficient. The median annual salary for this role was $93,730 as of 2020, according to the BLS.
Some organizations require computer systems analysts to have a traditional degree, though many may be open to hiring applicants with bootcamp qualifications and experience that showcases their skills and understanding in the field.
Computer programmers can work in a variety of settings to write, modify, and test code. The median annual salary for this role was $89,190 as of 2020, according to the BLS.
Though some organizations used to require applicants to have a traditional college degree, most are now open to applicants who can show that they have the necessary skills and expertise. In fact, “79% of graduates surveyed say they’ve been employed in a job requiring the technical skills learned at a bootcamp,” according to Course Report’s “2020 Coding Bootcamp Alumni Outcomes & Demographics Report.”
Software developers typically work to create computer or mobile applications or programs. Depending on the type of application, developers should specialize in certain coding languages.
The median annual salary for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers was $110,140 as of 2020, according to the BLS. The projected job growth for these roles is 22% between 2020 and 2030—almost three times faster than average (8%). Those interested in software development can expect growing demand in the coming years.
Web developers create and maintain websites, from simple blog websites to more advanced online stores with various functions and sections. This is an ideal career for aspiring coders, as web development is easy to practice on your own, and you can see yourself improve. You can create websites and show off your skills when creating a portfolio to showcase to various employers before landing your first paid position.
The median annual salary for web developers and digital designers was $77,200 as of 2020, according to the BLS. The job outlook is also promising, as the BLS projects the employment of web developers and digital designers to grow by 13% between 2020 and 2030—much faster than average.
How to Land Your First Coding Job
For those interested in transitioning into a coding career, the idea of landing your first job may seem daunting. Knowing the best ways to find and land your first coding job can make the process easier and more accessible. Here are some tips for coders looking for their first coding job:
Take Advantage of the Open-Source Community
In addition to GitHub, other open-source platforms that beginning coders can utilize include Stack Overflow and Bootstrap. For new coders, it can seem difficult to find others to share your newfound passion with. Luckily, the open-source community is full of like-minded individuals intent on connecting with other coders. What’s special about these communities is that you’ll find an array of people, ranging from beginner coders to seasoned professionals.
Stack Overflow allows coders to ask and answer coding-related questions, while Bootstrap is a free framework that allows coders to create websites and projects with HTML, CSS, and JS. By taking advantage of these resources, you can meet people already working in the industry. If someone else on a platform likes your work, they may reach out if they hear of a job opening.
Identify the Areas That Interest You Most
When you’re ready to find your first coding job, it’s important to know what interests you before pursuing a career. A wide array of jobs require coding and each type of role demands a different skill set. Knowing what roles suit your skills and interests can give you a clearer picture of which to pursue. Once you’ve done this, it’s easier to figure out the experience and qualifications you’ll need to land those roles.
It’s important to work toward landing jobs that you really want rather than those that seem more accessible. Careers that involve coding take a tremendous amount of effort, and enjoying your work is imperative to excelling and succeeding in a coding career.
Networking can be crucial for new coders looking to land their first job. Outside of open-source communities, some forums and meetups revolve around coding, startups, and business. Being proactive about meeting people in a variety of settings like these can boost your chances of finding an open position.
Personal connections can help you fill in the gaps that your coding resume lacks. By meeting new people who work in a variety of spheres, you can increase your chances of landing that first coding job and gaining invaluable experience.
Have Work to Showcase
New coders may be asking themselves, “I’ve learned how to code, but what should I do now?” A great place for beginner coders to start is by creating work that can be shown to others.
When starting out, this will likely be unpaid—either a personal project or as a favor. Unpaid work offers beginning coders the opportunity to build a portfolio that could impress employers enough to offer them a paid position. These projects can include creating an original website or app or a clone of an existing project to showcase your technical skills and capabilities.
Whatever you decide to create for your portfolio, it’s important to make sure that you’re showcasing your best work rather than subpar projects that don’t communicate your value as a coder. By taking the initiative to create projects that demonstrate your coding skills, you have the potential to land a well-paying coding job that allows you to showcase your expertise.
Take Your Coding Career to a Higher Level
The demand for individuals with the skills and expertise to code has skyrocketed in recent years. Estimates show that jobs that require coding skills are set to grow even more in the coming decade and beyond. If you’ve toyed with the idea of transitioning into a new career that involves coding, now is an ideal time to do it.
Today, you have the opportunity to learn coding through a variety of educational avenues, including self-teaching, traditional university programs, and streamlined bootcamps. Even if you’re not committed to a full-time coding career, a foundational understanding of code can give you a competitive edge in a wide range of other roles.
If you’re ready for a coding career and want to improve your coding skills as quickly and efficiently as possible, your first stop should be a coding bootcamp. The Grace Hopper Program helps you to gain the skills needed to embark on a new career or advance your existing career.
Coding bootcamps provide the structure, curriculum, and resources necessary for you to advance your coding skills, no matter what stage of coder you are. By taking advantage of coding bootcamps, you can develop the skills to pursue a high-paying career that allows you to showcase your full potential. Kick-start your coding career with one of the Grace Hopper Programs’ streamlined bootcamps.