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Is Coding a Good Career in the Face of AI and Tech Layoff
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Is Coding a Good Career in the Face of AI and Tech Layoffs?

13 minute read | September 18, 2023
Sakshi Gupta

Written by:
Sakshi Gupta

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If there’s one career path that everyone seems to be bullish on these days, it’s coding. Our world is increasingly digital, and skilled programmers are at the forefront of that development. At the same time, there are also certain market trends that might temper our excitement about a career in programming. The layoffs that have happened at major corporations come immediately to mind.

These contrasting trends can lead to some confusion about whether coding is still a good career option for those entering the job market or considering a career switch. In this article, we’ll explore whether or not that remains the case. We’ll go over statistics that can help us forecast the software job market, look at different career options within the industry, and consider strategies that can help you navigate the job market during layoffs.

Is Coding Still a Good Career Choice?

The answer to that question remains a very confident yes. Despite the layoffs that are currently ongoing at some companies, coding is a great career choice and a skill that is still highly sought after in the professional market.

The reason for that lies in the increasingly technological outlook that most industries are taking. Most of the layoffs that occurred were in the tech and crypto industry, but there are new tech roles that are constantly emerging in industries like agriculture and manufacturing. Many coders who lost their jobs in tech were swooped up by other industries in a matter of hours.

The bottom line is that the programmer jobs that were lost are likely to be replaced soon. A career in coding is still viable and, in many cases, as lucrative as ever.

Coding Job Market and Demand

Let’s now turn our attention to the status of the job market for coders. Here are a few stats that can help us figure out the status of the market.

Coding Job Market

The job market for coders is overwhelmingly a positive one and will remain so for the near future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 25% increase in jobs for software developers, testers, and quality assurance analysts between 2021 and 2031. That translates to over 400,000 jobs being added to the market during that time.

There are also other signs that point to a programming career still being a good career option. In its list of the 100 best jobs in 2023, US News placed the role of software developer at the very top of its list. The list was compiled based on how rewarding a job is, the potential for growth, and salary expectations.

It’s clear that the coding job market remains healthy despite layoffs in the tech industry. The job outlook is rosy in this space, and you have the potential to make a big impact through your work. So if you’ve been considering a career in coding, you would do well to stay on that path.

What Is the Scope of Coding?

A coding career doesn’t imply working just in the tech industry. Today, you can work in just about any industry if you’re someone who possesses programming skills. Automobiles, finance, healthcare, banking, and manufacturing are all areas that now hire coders in large numbers due to their digitized operations. 

The result is that coding is a job that has scope in just about any commercial niche. According to one estimate, there were 24.3 million software developers in the world in 2021. That number is projected to increase rapidly and reach the 45 million mark as early as 2030. This projection shows that a coding career has scope—not just today, but well into the future.

Is Coding in Demand?

As we’ve already seen, coding is a skill that’s highly in demand in today’s job market. In fact, the availability of programming jobs is high enough that most states in the US are facing a shortage of talent.

The EMSI Jobs Posting Dashboard recorded a 66% increase in job postings for software developers year-on-year. Most states in the US haven’t been able to respond to the increased demand for coders and face a skills gap. The good news for coders, however, is that they possess the essential skills required for these software development roles.

A Career in Coding: Benefits and Drawbacks

We’ve established that there is no dearth of job opportunities for coders. However, that’s not the only factor that you need to take into account when considering a job in tech. Let’s take a look at some of the main benefits and drawbacks of programming jobs so that you get a better idea of what life in this industry is like.

Benefits

Here are some of the pros of a career in coding:

Multiple Learning Paths

The benefits of being a coder become available to you even before you start a career as one. In order to enter this career, you have to, of course, think about how you can gain the requisite skills.

The good news for coders is that there are a myriad of options when it comes to learning resources. That includes online courses, free classes, and an almost endless number of YouTube channels and blogs from which you can pick up specialized skills in the area.

High-Impact Work

Coders have the ability to contribute to the organization and the world in general in a big way. Consider how most of us extensively use digital products in our daily lives. The same is true in how work is done in erstwhile low-tech industries like agriculture. Coding skills give you the ability to participate in the transformational work of building technology products and creating innovative solutions to everyday problems, making it one of the most rewarding careers out there.

Lucrative Opportunities

The average coding salary in the US is a shade above $73,000. That’s already much higher than the average across employment sectors. The annual salary numbers go up significantly once you specialize in an area of software development like data science or machine learning. There are few careers in which you have the potential to make as much money as you do in coding.

Flexible Work

According to one survey, 86% of coders work from home. That flexibility also extends to the ways in which coders can engage with companies. There are, of course, plenty of coders who work full-time. But more experienced coders also have the option of moving into contract or freelance roles, instead of more restrictive full-time roles.

Drawbacks

Here are some of the downsides of a career in coding:

High-Pressure Situations

Because of how important software has become across industries, coding has become a more high-pressure role. You will find yourself working under tight deadlines and having to burn the midnight oil to get work done. It’s important that you have conversations with your manager and HR so that you have a manageable workload and a healthy work-life balance.

Sedentary Work

This is something that affects most workers these days but is especially true for coders. You will have a rather sedentary working style on a daily basis. Tech jobs usually tend to be limited to a single desk and require very little physical activity. This means that you will have to invest in regular breaks and might consider options like standing desks so that you can maintain a healthy lifestyle even at work.

A Career in Coding Is for You if…

Here are a few characteristics that are signs that you are someone who would do well in a technical position.

You’re a Problem-Solver

You might think that loving and understanding groundbreaking tech is the recipe for a career in coding. But really, it’s something much simpler. Coding is a job where you will solve problems every day. While technical knowledge is important eventually, what’s more important is that you enjoy solving problems and figuring out how to bring ideas to life.

You’re Logical and Analytical

Being a programmer requires a logical and analytical bent. Strong computer programmers don’t just know the syntax of the programming languages they use, but they also understand how to deploy algorithms based on the analysis of a problem statement. If you enjoy things like logic puzzles, then that’s a good sign you have one of the basic skills required for a programmer.

You Enjoy Upskilling

Technology is a field that’s in a constant state of flux. There are always new programming languages and development approaches coming into the field. As a programmer, you have to be willing to go beyond the basics of coding and upskill yourself by working on advanced knowledge areas in the field and working on new kinds of software products. Senior programmers enjoy job growth and higher-than-average salaries by doing just that.

Coding (and Related) Careers To Explore

Coding isn’t a job title on its own. It’s a skill that can lead to a career in various domains. Let’s take a look at what some of the most popular ones are.

Software Engineer

Software engineer is a generic term used to describe someone who builds software. You could work on many different kinds of operating systems and device types in a software engineer role. You need to be a strong computer programmer and understand the software development process to be considered for the role.

Full-Stack Developer 

Full-stack developers have a strong grasp of both front-end development and back-end development. That means that they can be assigned tasks that deal with the form and appearance of a website as well as its server elements. Full-stack developers usually start by focusing on either front-end or back-end development and then branch out into the complementary discipline.

Machine Learning Engineer

Machine learning is a field that’s at the forefront of a lot of exciting developments in the field of technology. Machine learning engineers develop algorithms and build software that has the capability to learn in meaningful ways from training datasets. You need to have a strong understanding of certain mathematical concepts (linear algebra, calculus, statistics) and understand data science to work as a machine learning engineer.

Game Developer

Game developers write code and run tests for games. This is a field where you get to work with gaming engines and implement narrative plots developed by your team. Game developers need to understand in-game physics to create games that give their users a consistent and entertaining experience.

Cybersecurity Engineer

Cybersecurity is a field that deals with all aspects pertaining to the protection of an organization’s digital assets. Cybersecurity engineers develop programs and regulatory frameworks for their companies. This is an exciting field where there is a large demand for skilled talent.

DevOps Engineer

DevOps is a field that focuses on the logistical and productivity aspects of software development. As a DevOps engineer, you will be tasked with studying the requirements for different projects, assigning resources, and setting up the infrastructure to ensure that project assets are delivered on time.

Blockchain Developer

The blockchain is a software structure that has gained significance recently for its ability to immutably record transactions between participants in a network. Blockchain developers are tasked with developing and maintaining blockchains for different kinds of applications. While blockchains gained prominence in the crypto space, they’re also relevant in industries like logistics and gaming.

Data Scientist

Data scientists are professionals who work with large datasets and build tools that make it possible to derive meaningful insights from those datasets. This is a field where you need strong mathematical foundations and understand the end-to-end data management infrastructure of a system. If you’re interested in working with data, it’s important that you understand the distinctions between data analysis and data science.

Cloud Engineer

The cloud is a piece of software infrastructure that has gained prominence in many different applications over the last few years. It is now used in everything from storage to setting up programming environments. Cloud engineers work to set up cloud systems based on project requirements and ensure their smooth functioning through the length of the project.

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A Coding Career Amidst AI and Tech Layoffs: Answering Common Queries

It can be unsettling to hear about layoffs in AI and tech if you’re working towards a career in the industry. Let’s take a look at a few common questions that aspirants ask in response to layoffs.

Will AI Replace Coders?

It is very unlikely that AI will completely replace coders. There will always be demand for skilled professionals who can build software systems from scratch and not just produce lines of code by writing prompts. AI can, however, impact the job market in important ways by making it possible to automate some of the work performed by coders.

Is Coding an Oversaturated Career Path?

Coding is currently not an oversaturated career market. In fact, there is a shortage of skilled programmers running into the millions at a global level.

Is It Hard To Land a Coding Job?

It isn’t particularly hard to land a coding job if you’ve got the right skills and experience. It becomes easier to land a job if you have a strong portfolio of work and prepare for common coding interview questions.

Is Coding a Good Career for the Future?

Yes, coding is a good career for the future. The technology industry is one that will define progress across the commercial sector. That makes coding a future-proof job profile where candidates will be able to find open roles across industries.

Coding Career Overview

Here are a few things that you need to know in order to plan your career as a coder.

General Prerequisites for a Coding Career

Here’s what you’ll need to launch a career in coding:

Foundational Knowledge

A basic understanding of programming forms the basis for all of the work that you will do as a coder. The best way to start off in this space is by picking one programming language and sticking with it until you understand how to build full-fledged software programs in it. Focus on learning the syntax, paradigmatic approaches, and key libraries that the language offers.

Education

A four-year degree in computer science or IT is an option if you want to become a coder. That said, there are now less costly and time-intensive ways to get an education in coding. There are coding bootcamps that you can enroll in to quickly gain programming skills and become a job-ready coder.

Skills

Here are the key skills that you require as a coder. 

Technical Skills
  • Data structures and algorithms 
  • Integrated development environments
  • Object-oriented programming 
  • Databases and SQL 
Soft Skills
  • Problem-solving 
  • Self-reliance 
  • Analytical thinking 

Other Requirements

There are a few skills that are not widely talked about but are part of what makes a good coder. 

Writing clean code and producing documentation is essential for every coder to do. You should be able to produce code that is easy to read and is annotated with comments wherever required. It’s also important to write concise documentation so that others who collaborate with you can easily figure out how your programs work.

Touch typing tools are a game-changer for the workflow of a coder. It makes it possible to produce more lines of code in less time and leads to greater productivity. If you’re someone who aspires to a career as a programmer, try to integrate touch typing practices into the work that you do daily.

What Are the Average Salaries for Coders?

The average salary of a programmer in the US is $73,059. That said, salaries tend to vary greatly based on your specific role. For example, the current average salary of a machine learning engineer is $160,337.

is coding a good career, machine learning engineer average base salary

What Does a Career Path in Coding Look Like?

A career path in coding usually starts at the junior developer level. This is a role in which you will be assigned to a specific part of a software system and write code to flesh it out. You will usually work under the supervision of a more senior developer.

Junior developers who gain around three years of experience are considered for the senior developer role. At this stage, you will be given the responsibility to plan and produce code for entire subsections of projects.

Developers who gain upwards of five years of experience can move up into the lead architect role. Lead architects come up with the systems design for entire projects and oversee its implementation.

From here on in, you will have the option of sticking to a technical role or working as a manager. If you choose the former, you will be considered for roles such as senior architect and technical lead. In managerial roles, such as project manager and senior manager, you’re involved in overseeing teams of junior developers and ensuring that project milestones are met.

Pursuing a Career in Coding: Real-Life Examples and Stories To Inspire You

Check out these stories for inspiration:

Ohagorom Judith O

is coding a good career, Ohagorom Judith O

Some people believe that all they need to do to become a coder is enroll in a computer science degree program. However, as Ohagorom Judith O’s story shows, you still need to do a lot of self-learning even if you complete a four-year degree. This post details some of the things you need to do independently to become a proficient coder and shows how to overcome the challenges you will face along the way.

The Minimal Jess

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A lot of aspiring coders have asked themselves if it’s possible to become a self-taught programmer. In the linked video, the YouTuber who goes by the name The Minimal Jess covers key pieces of information that you need to have before you set about teaching yourself how to code. Watch it to learn more about figuring out whether coding is the right career for you, choosing the right learning path, and preparing yourself for a long and satisfying career journey.

FAQs About Coding Careers

We’ve got the answers to your most frequently asked questions:

Is Coding a Stressful Job?

Coding can be a high-pressure job. It’s essential to keep the lines of communication open with your managers so that they know if you feel overworked and can revise your workload.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Coding and Get a Job?

Give yourself at least six months to learn how to code as a beginner. From there, your networking skills and portfolio will play a key role in determining how long it takes to actually land a job.

Can I Learn Coding on My Own?

Yes, it is possible to self-learn coding. The Internet is full of free and paid resources that you can use to do that.

Which Are the Highest-Paid Coding Careers?

Careers in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cloud engineering are the most lucrative ones in coding currently.

Since you’re here…
No one wakes up knowing how to code – they learn how to code. Tens of thousands of students have successfully learned with our courses, like our Software Engineering Bootcamp. If you’re a total newbie, our Software Engineering Career Track Prep Course will be a perfect fit. Let’s do this!

About Sakshi Gupta

Sakshi is a Managing Editor at Springboard. She is a technology enthusiast who loves to read and write about emerging tech. She is a content marketer with experience in the Indian and US markets.