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</Coding – what is it and should I learn how to code?>

Published on 22 September 2022 by Clea Wood


We’re answering your top coding questions to help you understand what coding is, where coding could take you and the skills you’ll need to be successful.

What does coding mean?

Coding is the method of giving a computer instructions to perform a specific task. Coding is also often referred to as software programming or computer programming. Instructions have to be given in a language that computers understand, for example JavaScript or Python, however there are over 700 coding languages which can be used.

Code is essential for our world’s technology. From microprocessors in everyday items like refrigerators and water heaters to sophisticated programs that run our cars and buildings, code is employed in some capacity for nearly everything we use.

Why are there so many different types of coding language?

According to many websites, the most in-demand coding languages for jobs in the UK are Python, JavaScript; C, PHP, Ruby; C++, C#, Java, TypeScript and Perl. Which one is used and when depends largely on the programme you are writing and the job you’re doing. A Software Developer will most likely use a different coding language to a Data Analyst. That’s why it’s important to do your research before choosing which language to study so you learn the most useful ones for the roles or industry you want to work in.

What jobs do coders do?

There are many different jobs coders can do. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in the tech industry, coding is used in all sorts of businesses including finance, manufacturing and the creative sector, so if you don’t want to work in tech then you don’t need to. Some of the most popular jobs that require coding are Data Analysts, Computer Programmers; Software Developers; Computer Systems Engineers; App Developers; Web Developers; Front End Developers, and so on. Some are more creative, and others are more mathematically focused, so it’s worth taking a look at different job specifications to see what suits you best.

person on laptop coding

What skills do I need for coding?

As well as learning coding itself, there are lots of soft skills required to code in a professional capacity. Good attention to detail will help to spot mistakes, problems, and inconsistencies. A talent for solving problems is also useful, you’ll come across lots of errors along the way and you need to have the ability and patience to work these out. Self-motivation and perseverance are needed, especially if you want to work as a freelancer or simply to progress in your career.

Just like a learning new coding language, this type of skill can be practised and improved, many people aren’t born organised but use tools and methods to improve their organisational skills.

How can I learn to code and how long will it take?

There are many ways to learn to code and how you learn to code mainly comes down to personal preference. You may  prefer guided learning, in-person learning, and others will favour self-taught course to follow at their own pace. How long it takes varies from person to person and largely depends on your method of learning. Skills Bootcamps can be as little as 12 weeks, whereas a degree can be 3-4 years.

Here are just a few of the ways you can learn to code:

The most important thing with any of these is to practice, practice, practice.

How do I start coding on my own?

If you’re looking to go down the self-taught route then an online course, Bootcamp or following videos may be the best option for you. Creating a portfolio using a website is also a great way to document your journey for future employers and gain practice along the way.

The IoC and coding

The Institute of Coding (IoC) is a collaborative national consortium of industry, educators and outreach providers that are working together to respond to the UK’s digital skills gap through the delivery of employer-led digital skills education. Many of the courses have elements of coding in them as well as the softer skills employers look for.

Through this collaborative approach, IoC partners have created more than 150 new courses that have engaged 900,000 diverse learners to date.

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