Is there an age limit on programming? This in-demand digital skill isn’t always easy — it requires attention to detail and great memory — but the increasing diversity of programming languages paired with new training courses and popular certifications means it’s possible for just about anyone, of any age, to learn to program and jump-start their IT career.
So let’s break it down: Why should you learn programming? What does it take to hone this skill, where can you start your electronic education and what’s the job outlook for newly-proven programmers?
Why Should I Learn Programming?
The demand for skilled programmers is increasing. And while technology companies remain at the forefront of programming hires to help build applications and design better networks, Forbes notes that even industries not commonly associated with programming — such as food development, automotive manufacture and healthcare — now need the help of skilled coders to implement and deploy new technologies.
Another area of significant programming growth is government agencies across the nation’s capital region: As noted by recent research from Deloitte and Gartner, new areas of focus such as artificial intelligence (AI), automated IT operations, citizen digital identity and adaptive security all need programming expertise to ensure reliability and interoperability at scale.
Federal agencies are also using new physical technologies such as drones to assess physical infrastructure, assist in disaster recovery and improve air traffic control. Here, programmers are required to both customize these drones for government use and ensure existing IT networks can handle the influx of new connected devices.
What Does it Take to Learn Programming?
If you’re considering a career in programming, it’s easy to consider it a young person’s game — is it possible to learn coding techniques after 30? 40? Even 50 years old? While there’s no single characteristic (or age) that defines a great programmer, there are four key skills that every potential coder needs:
- Excellent attention to detail — Even small errors in code can cause big problems for organizations. Attention to detail reduces the amount of time you spend finding errors and fixing problems.
- Great short- and long-term memory — Programming consists of multiple moving parts. Remembering what you did two minutes — and two days — ago is essential to ensure your code works the way it should.
- Understanding of key interrelations — Code doesn’t operate in isolation. From resource calls to application commands and security authentication, effective programming requires the ability to conceptualize IT interrelations at scale.
- Persistence over time — Developing, troubleshooting and fixing code isn’t a quick process. What seems like a great idea on paper may be challenging to implement, and it can take days or weeks to track down specific faults. Persistence is paramount to success.
Bottom line? When it comes to programming, age is just a number — personality, positive attitude and perseverance are the keys to success.
Where Can I Start Learning to Program?
Look online and you’ll find a host of free programming tutorials. Some languages — such as HTML — are considered relatively easy to learn, while others such as Shell and Ruby are more difficult, especially if you’re learning in isolation.
To help jump-start your programming career, it’s worth considering coding class packages that include multiple courses and pave the way for popular IT certifications. Instructor-led training courses in popular languages such as C and Java provide the foundation you need to start coding on your own and applying for jobs that require basic programming knowledge. It’s also a good idea to include an entry-level certification such as CompTIA A+, since this is one of the most-requested IT designations for any IT position.
In addition to essential coding knowledge, programming courses and certifications can help improve your overall IT career outlook by providing transferrable skills, such as:
- Thinking outside the box — Programming requires you to consider multiple pathways to success, which is a critical skill in managing complex and often cloud-based IT environments.
- Improved communication — For code to work at scale, multiple developers and programmers must collaborate. This is true across all other IT positions; network and security analysts must work with in-house teams, third-party providers and the C-suite to complete critical tasks.
What Jobs can I get With Programming?
No matter your potential IT role, programming offers career benefits — especially if you’re applying in high-demand areas such as Washington, DC. Potential entry-level opportunities include:
- C Programmer
- Software Developer
- Application Analyst
- Mobile Software Developer
- Software Consultant
And with programming skills quickly becoming must-haves for organizations looking to leverage IoT technologies, build their own applications and streamline current operations, there’s substantial room to grow for new programmers — even with basic knowledge and certifications, opportunities are everywhere.
Are you too old to learn programming? That’s up to you. With the right attitude and the proper training, you’ve got coding career potential.