Making the leap

Tips for Switching Careers into Programming

Beau Peters
© Shutterstock / Ikon_Grafix

There are plenty of good reasons to consider programming as a possible future career choice. For one, it is a growing industry and jobs are relatively abundant. Programmers are in high demand thanks to our rapidly expanding dependence upon technology. Is it time to make the switch?

There comes a time for many of us when we just need a change.

Something has to give.

The idea of getting up and going to work one more day is almost too much to think about. The weekends are never quite long enough, and the idea of your nosy co-worker stopping in and talking about all the amazing things he did makes you never want to sit down in your cubicle again.

The recent rise in people quitting their jobs across the U.S. has got you thinking. Perhaps it’s time for you to make the switch too. The idea of changing careers is pretty scary, but it can be pretty normal — most people will have upwards of 12 different jobs during their working years. If you find yourself thinking that the career you found yourself in isn’t quite right for you, maybe it is time to make the switch.

Maybe now is the time to try something with flexibility, something that opens doors into a wide range of well-paying jobs. Perhaps you are thinking about trying your hand at a career in programming.

SEE ALSO: “Low-code solutions allow a single company to create hundreds of applications”

Why Programming?

There are plenty of good reasons to consider programming as a possible future career choice. For one, it is a growing industry and jobs are relatively abundant. Programmers are in high demand thanks to our rapidly expanding dependence upon technology. And there are careers for nearly every skill level out there, meaning you can get in with a certificate and continue to work your way up as your skills improve.

Beyond the relative abundance of jobs, there is a great deal of flexibility as well. Many programmers can work remotely, so where you live doesn’t really matter. Likewise, there are programming positions that can have an impact in almost any field, not just big tech. For instance, programming is becoming an essential part of healthcare data management, security for big companies, natural resources data analysis, and energy sector protocols. The sky’s the limit.

Though there are plenty of examples of the coding and programming fields having a lack of diversity and a strong gender skew, this is something many companies take seriously. Gender diversity has some real benefits for the tech industry. They are working on it, and moving into programming now could be an opportunity to be part of important changes in the industry.

Making the Switch

So maybe you’re convinced already that a career in programming is right for you. Actually making the leap and getting out there to do it is the harder part. Qualifying for positions requires a fair amount of coding skill and background, which can be the most difficult part, especially if you are trying to continue earning money while gaining the knowledge.

One of the best tips for getting started in coding and programming is to take advantage of free online courses. Start with some of the basic skills to make sure this is something that you really want to do before you quit your job and sign up for an expensive coding course. Remember, learning to code is like learning a new language; it is a slow process, and there will be a steep learning curve before you feel confident.

Another thing to keep in mind is that life doesn’t happen in a box, and neither does a career change. Don’t be afraid to build a network of supporters who help you through the difficult times — even if they aren’t coding experts. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in forums, document your progress, set goals for yourself, teach others some of the things you’ve learned, and build an online presence that can land you a job in the future.

SEE ALSO: Why Companies Should Be “Dogfooding” Their Own Software

Soft Skills Matter Too

As you are starting to apply for positions, it is also important to take into consideration the importance of soft skills. Being able to communicate with co-workers about deadlines, reach out to customers professionally for clarification on projects, and stay organized to meet timelines are just as important as having the programming skills in the first place. After all, no one is going to work well with a person that can’t meet deadlines and won’t respond to emails and phone calls.

Applications can be challenging, but don’t be afraid to sell yourself. Your previous careers — even if they don’t feel relevant — have given you some valuable skills. Perhaps you’ve been in a career where you build relationships with new clients — that is still important in programming. Or maybe you’ve had a career managing environmental projects — managing anything is a valuable experience. Push your boundaries, but never sell yourself short. This is how you will be successful at your career change to programming.

Beau Peters
Beau Peters is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he’s learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things.

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