CIC - Spring 2019

Coding – The Other Second Language

Learning a new language can be an incredibly rewarding experience. You get to communicate with an entirely different group of people and a whole new world opens up right before your eyes.

So what language do you want to learn? French? Spanish? German? Computer?

Wait a minute… computer?

The language of computers, called coding, is used to create software, websites and apps and it’s rapidly becoming one of the most useful forms of communication today.

Kerri Anderson is a self-employed Coding Specialist in Edmonton, Alberta. She explains, “Computers don’t understand regular words, only really just ‘on’ and ‘off’. Binary code is comprised of the digits 1 and 0, or ‘on’ and ‘off’. Putting the digits together in various formations creates commands that operate our browsers, web pages, smartphones, pretty much anything that is run by a computer. In this day and age, that means coding is involved in almost all aspects of our lives.”

Coding is now being taught to kids in the elementary school years and a basic knowledge of coding is more than most people need to write blogs and create or edit their own websites for personal use.

But to take it to the next level, and become a software engineer, web developer, mobile developer or data scientist requires a solid educational base.

Colleges are ideal for learning coding – instructors are usually seasoned industry professionals, and with their unique connection to local industries, colleges have their finger on the pulse of the latest trends and technologies.

“Sure, you can learn to code on your own and that will be good enough for you to be able to do some basic programming, but to be really employable, HR departments want to see that you’ve got a diploma from a reputable, recognized learning institution,” says Anderson.

Coders will learn various languages like JavaScript, Python, Visual Basic, Ruby and many more. Computer codes operate everything from cars to thermostats and traffic lights to laundry machines. They help us manage databases and run software of all kinds. In addition to an interest in computing, coders can also indulge their passion for other interests while performing their job, as coders are in high demand in such industries as healthcare, business, government, artificial intelligence, finance, education and agriculture, to name a few.

Coders are frequently employed as software engineers, developing applications for computers and other electronic devices. Software engineers are most often employed by software publishers and computer system design companies. Coders can also be web developers – front-end web developers create clear and concise content, format all outbound links and make sure websites are operational as well as engaging to users. Front-end developers are usually great mobile designers, ensuring that all content will display properly across various web browsers. Back-end developers are responsible for writing the code and programs for the server, databases, and applications. There are also full-stack developers – they are able to handle both the front and back ends of websites.

Data scientists are now making their mark in the coding industry. Part statistician, part computer engineer and part coder, data scientists mine databases in order to predict future trends in industry. Taking massive amounts of data and translating it into usable information, data scientists are becoming invaluable in modern business environments.

Mobile developers work on apps for smartphones and other devices with an Android, Apple or Windows platform. Considering how much we rely on our mobile phones, this is another exciting area for coders.

“A coder needs to be a logical thinker with a keen eye for detail. They need to have infinite patience because, believe me, day after day, you’re going to write something that you just know is going to work and then it doesn’t.,” says Anderson. “But then you figure out where you went wrong, you fix it and all that hard work becomes worth it!”

Government of Canada 2016 census information indicates the average yearly income for software engineers and designers was approximately $89,000, computer programmers earned about $69,000 per year and web designers and developers netted around $42,000 annually.

Coding is ever-evolving and a versatile coder will continue be in high demand across a variety of businesses and industries.

By Sharon Fredericks