How to Make Money Coding
By The Fullstack Academy Team
No matter how many new coders join the workforce this year, there won’t be enough of them to fill the number of available jobs. That’s the opinion of 47% of tech recruiters in a 2022 survey by CoderPad, a tech interview platform. Recruiters rated finding qualified candidates as their biggest challenge.
In the past year, employers have advertised more than 1.2 million job openings for software and web developers, according to the job market data firm Burning Glass. Various types of coding jobs are expected to increase as much as 17% over the coming decade.
With demand far exceeding supply, coders enjoy opportunity and flexibility that professionals in many other occupations can only envy. Coders can work for large companies, small startups, or for themselves. They also can work in an office or from home.
Moreover, they can exercise that freedom while earning up to six-figure salaries. An exploration of some common career paths for graduates of coding bootcamps reveals a diverse wealth of options for how to make money coding.
What Is the Average Coding Salary?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for computer programmers was $89,190 as of May 2021. By comparison, the median salary for all occupations in the U.S. was $41,950.
Under the broad umbrella of coding, however, an individual’s precise salary can vary widely, depending on factors including:
Many industries employ coders, but some stand out for offering richer rewards than the median salary.
Overall, software publishers, which create and sell commercial programs, offer the highest coding salaries, according to the BLS:
Computer programmers at software publishers typically earn $129,410 annually, 45% higher than the median for programmers.
Software developers at software publishers average $124,050 a year.
Web developers and digital designers make $123,870 annually.
Beyond software publishing, the highest-paying industries for different types of coding include:
General computer programming: Intellectual property, personal and information services, and spectator sports
Software development: Sporting goods, hobby, music, and electronics stores, as well as manufacturing of computers and peripherals
Web development: Finance, banking, credit card networks, and air transportation companies
Different coding jobs require different levels of education and tend to pay accordingly, per the BLS:
Web developers have the lowest requirements, as 30% of them don’t have a four-year degree, and they earn a median annual salary of $77,200.
Computer programmers are in the midrange of earning, as 26% of them don’t have a four-year degree, and they report a median annual wage of $93,000.
Software developers typically have the highest median annual salary ($110,140) and the most education, with 51% having a bachelor’s degree and 31% having a master’s degree.
Years of Experience
As coders gain experience, so does their opportunity to increase their compensation. Burning Glass reports increasing coding salaries for software developers and programmers with more years in the field:
Entry-level coders start at around $82,200.
Coders with three to five years of experience average about $98,900 annually.
With more than nine years of experience, workers earn more than $111,000.
Coding is a highly portable occupational skill, with jobs available in all parts of the country. But the BLS reports that some states offer much higher levels of compensation than others, reflecting factors like demand for programmers and cost of living.
For software developers, for example, there’s a significant gap between the highest- and lowest-paying states. In Washington, the median annual salary is $138,400. In South Dakota, it’s 78,540.
In general, the highest coding salaries are found in California, home to Silicon Valley, and the state of Washington, headquarters to tech giants Microsoft and Amazon.
Texas, Colorado, and Minnesota, as well as the Northeast, also offer high-paying opportunities for coders.
Types of Coding
All code is not created equal. The needs of the program or website will often dictate which programming language to use. Likewise, the type of coding job a student aspires to will guide which programming language to learn first.
Many experts recommend learning one language thoroughly rather than studying multiple languages simultaneously. Focusing on a single language is the quickest way to develop marketable skills while avoiding confusion between different commands and syntaxes.
As with a foreign language, mastering one programming language also makes it easier and faster to learn additional ones.
Which language is the best for a beginner? It depends partly on what area of tech a student hopes to enter, since each language has its own optimal applications.
A student’s choice of language may also depend on the preferences of the companies where they want to work. Learning a popular language boosts a beginner’s marketability, which may translate to a higher coding salary.
Here’s a look at some of the most in-demand languages and what they’re used for:
Python proficiency is sought by 39% of recruiters, according to CoderPad. It’s not hard to understand why.
Python has been around since 1991 and is still used for business applications, scientific computing, games, and other basic jobs. But while Python is considered a mature language, it’s in high demand today. Programmers fluent in Python work in leading-edge fields like machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Another benefit of Python is that it’s a relatively easy language to learn, because its code is closer to plain English than Java or C++. This allows students to move more quickly into programming and start writing programs sooner.
Java is another language that’s more than a quarter-century old and has a wide variety of uses. Used early on for animating websites, it’s still a top language for web developers.
Java has also become a language of choice for devices other than computers. It’s the core language behind Android, the operating system for 85% of mobile devices. More recently, Java is being used for programming smart appliances, known collectively as the Internet of Things.
Java’s range of applications translates to a lot of job openings, with 43% of recruiters seeking Java skills, according to the CoderPad survey.
C++ is a modern version of C, yet another language with deep historical roots. The kernels of several operating systems are written in C, including Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. Programs that run on those systems also utilize C languages, which helps explain why 24% of recruiters want coders who are fluent in them.
Compared with earlier versions, C++ allows programs to run faster and use less memory. That’s partly because it’s closer to machine language, meaning a CPU goes through fewer steps to implement the code.
While C++ is more challenging to learn than Python or Java, it offers the benefit of portability. A C++ language application written for one kind of processor is often easy to adapt to other architectures.
How to Make Money Coding From Home
Individuals with coding skills can work anywhere in the country. For many professionals—and the companies that hire them—that’s come to mean working from home.
In CoderPad’s survey, an overwhelming 71% of coders said they preferred working remotely, full or part-time, to reporting to an office.
Increasingly, many recruiters are willing to accommodate them. During the COVID-19 pandemic, 42% of companies either hired more freelancers or hired them for the first time. The trend may stick, as 37% of employers are still offering the option of working 100% from home.
Types of Coding From Home
Coding from home isn’t just geographically diverse. It can also call for a variety of coding skills. Types of coding that are common among remote workers include:
Program and App Development
Many of today’s most prevalent pieces of software are the products of collaborators contributing remotely. They include open-source programs such as the Firefox browser, the Android mobile operating system, and the Python programming language.
Large companies and small startups hire home-based software developers. Job-seeker website FlexJobs features listings from firms like Amazon and Oracle, as well as cybersecurity, networking, telecommunications, and subscription software companies.
The largest single segment of the web design workforce is self-employed, accounting for 18% of all web developers, according to BLS figures.
Either way, an at-home web designer is likely to interact frequently with clients, via either videoconferencing or office visits. Those clients are just as likely to be a traditional organization versus a tech company.
Play is serious business in the video game industry. With the pandemic causing people to spend more time at home, global sales soared in 2020 to $180 billion, data firm IDC reports.
It’s also a thriving field for solo practitioners. According to tech research service Statista, 27% of game developers either are self-employed or work as freelancers.
Remote game design can call on many different kinds of coding skills, from developing a concept to creating artwork or setting up systems to collect statistics.
Self-Marketing: Key to Coding From Home
Making money coding from home takes more than coding skills. It requires an entrepreneur's self-marketing expertise. Some tactics independent coders use to generate work include:
Prospective clients should be able to see at a glance a coder’s experience, programming languages, and certifications or specializations. It’s good to post profiles on multiple sites for freelancers, such as Upwork, Freelancer, and Guru, as well as a profile on LinkedIn. Remote workers can also register with tech employment agencies—Robert Half Technology, for example—that actively refer independent workers to companies.
Building a Portfolio
To demonstrate to an employer what a coder can do, highlighting what they’ve done can help. Profiles and inquiry letters should include links to previous projects. Until a beginner accumulates a portfolio of work for others, they can demonstrate their ability with their own projects, particularly ones that solve novel problems.
Searching Job Sites
The volume of job postings on websites like Monster.com and Computerwork.com can appear overwhelming. But including words like “contract,” “freelance,” and “telecommuting” in a search can narrow the list to jobs that fit an at-home worker’s needs.
Competing in Coding
Coding competitions can sharpen skills while showing them off to potential clients and collaborators. Some competitions offer cash prizes, too. Google, for example, offers $15,000 to its Code Jam Champ.
Networking With Other Professionals
Joining professional organizations like the IEEE Computer Society and WebProfessionals.org can help job seekers make connections and learn about job opportunities by word of mouth, as well as keep up with new developments in the field. Contributing to open-source software projects is another means of networking with coders who have similar interests.
How to Make Money Coding Python
Among novice coders, Python has become one of the most popular languages. Python’s streamlined syntax makes it easier to learn than many others, allowing a programmer to rapidly start making money at coding.
It’s also versatile enough to open the door to a wide range of coding-based careers, with good salaries and robust projected job growth. Here are three examples:
Making Money Coding Python in Software Development
Python is an object-oriented programming language that excels at manipulating data. For that reason, it’s widely used in developing software for data analysis, such as in scientific research.
Those capabilities also make Python useful for machine learning and artificial intelligence, which crunch enormous amounts of data to help computer systems make split-second decisions.
Software development is a fast-growing occupation. According to the BLS, software developer jobs will grow 22% between 2020 and 2030, compared with 8% for employment overall.
They also offer high coding salaries. PayScale reports that senior software engineers with Python skills earned a median salary of about $128,100 a year as of February 2022, with the top 10% making more than $168,000.
Making Money Coding Python in Quality Assurance
While some coders write software in Python, others employ it to test software, to see if it performs the tasks for which it’s designed, and to detect errors that need correcting.
Python is particularly useful for automating the testing process, which saves time compared with manually inputting data and checking the outputs. Open-source testing tools and libraries of prewritten code can speed the writing of automation scripts.
The BLS includes quality assurance jobs with software developer jobs, growing at the same rapid pace.
Median salaries for senior quality assurance engineers with Python skills were around $114,800 a year as of February 2022, PayScale reports, with the most experienced developers earning upward of $152,000.
Making Money Coding Python in Web Development
Python can be effective for coding websites as well as software. Developer survey site JetBrains finds web development to be Python’s second-most common use, after data analysis.
The language’s versatility makes it useful for advanced web design—building sites that need to handle a variety of functions. It’s especially useful for websites that interact with users. For example, Python routines can utilize artificial intelligence to personalize suggestions to customers.
The BLS projects web developer jobs to grow a faster-than-average 13% over the course of the decade.
Web development pays well, though less than software development. Senior web developers with Python skills earned a median annual salary of about $82,100 as of February 2022, according to PayScale. Top developers can earn salaries of over $126,000.
Prepare for a Satisfying Career in Coding
With the robust demand for coders across all segments of the business world, a beginning programmer has a wide array of options to make money coding. Intensive programs like the coding bootcamps at Fullstack Academy can prepare students for entry-level coding jobs in as little as 17 weeks while also acquainting them with several potential paths a coding career can take.
Explore how Fullstack’s bootcamps can prepare you to pursue a career in the rewarding and high-growth field of coding or move into another tech area, such as data analysis or cybersecurity.
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