Perhaps you've always had a knack for coding, or maybe you love computers and you've heard that coders are in high demand – either way, if you're wondering what types of careers you can pursue with a coding background, we've got the scoop for you.
College Confidential sat down with Pat Yongpradit, chief academic officer at Code.org, an organization that works to expand access to computer science education across the US. Yongpradit shared some insights about the career opportunities that await computer scientists.
College Confidential: When we think of careers that require a coding background, we typically picture someone coding the back end of a website. Can you share other potential careers that people can pursue if they have computer science backgrounds?
Pat Yongpradit: The following careers are among the options for those with coding backgrounds:
- Data visualization designer
- Video producer
- Data scientist
- Audio engineer
- Game designer
- Interactives/web journalist
- Environmental scientist
- Wearable tech/fashion designer
- AR/VR designer
- UX designer
- Product Manager
- Solution architect
- IT consultant
Many jobs in today's world would benefit from having computer science knowledge. Computer science offers skills that span careers beyond typical technology jobs, including fields such as marketing, communications, legal, etc. For example, a freelance artist could create their own website to display their work, or a baker could set up a digital storefront so customers could place orders online. Or say you work at a tech company in sales, where knowledge of basic computer science could help you converse with the engineers to better understand the product you're selling. Navigating legal issues around security and privacy in today's increasingly digital world requires a basic understanding of technology. Artists, designers, writers, scientists and many other professions that aren't directly related to computer science can all benefit from some basic knowledge of the field. Just like math, science or English, computer science is a foundational skill.
CC: Which college majors are most common for students who are coding enthusiasts?
PY: The following are among the most common majors:
- Computer science
- Computer engineering
- Electrical engineering
- Data science
Although these majors are common, people from all backgrounds can learn programming and computer science at any age. In fact, studying something unrelated to computer science can bring a valuable perspective to the field, and employers value people who can bring a diverse skill set to the workplace. You're never too old to learn, and there is no single “right" path to learning computer science — that's what makes it so great!
CC: A lot of students shy away from learning to code because they say they "aren't good at math and science." Can they still succeed at coding?
PY: Math and science success aren't required to succeed at coding. Instead, it's qualities like creativity, precision and the ability to deal with setbacks and analyze the cause (what coders call “debugging"). Those skills aren't solely the domain of math and science.
And for students who aren't succeeding through traditional math and science instruction, coding can give them a rich context for engaging in those areas. Part of the issue with not being “good at math and science" is not having the right reason or context for applying math and science skills. There are certainly students who would show more interest and self-efficacy if they were engaging with math and science skills in a manner beyond worksheets and multiple-choice tests. Coding provides a context for kids to connect with math and science in exciting ways -- whether through video games (math) or creating simulations (science).