10 Software Careers Myths: What if Coding is Right For You?

So if you’ve heard all the hype about software programming jobs and you’re wondering, is this career path right for me… I wrote this post for you. Let’s separate fact from fiction and get real.

MYTH #1: TECH CAREERS ARE ONLY FOR YOUNG WEALTHY WHITE MALES 
When most people think of software programmers, they have a mental picture of a dude in a torn t-shirt and sandals eating ramen noodles – a young Mark Zuckerberg.
Photo of Mark Zuckerberg

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Newsflash! The tech world is changing.

The software industry is trying to become more diverse in terms of age, race, gender, and backgrounds.

There’s a real push to hire people who bring different perspectives because companies believe it improves their products.

In fact, if you are a woman or a minority, finally, the scales may be tipping in the other direction!

 

MYTH #2: YOU NEED A SOFTWARE ENGINEERING / COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREE TO GET A JOB AS A PROGRAMMER

It used to be that you needed a 4-year college degree in software engineering. That’s not true anymore either. Now, many companies are open to hiring graduates of coding boot camps and online courses. What they look for is samples of your work products (the code you’ve written) so they can see your skills in action.

You’ve probably seen the headlines: artificial intelligence, virtual reality, the blockchain, voice technologies (like Alexa) are the next big technical innovations of our time.

If you are doing advanced research in one of these fields, you may need a computer science degree (Masters or Ph.D.). But for most entry-level to mid-level jobs, you don’t need advanced degrees. 

 

MYTH #3: ALL PROGRAMMERS EARN SIX FIGURES

Unfortunately, there is a lot of hype around careers in IT and software. I’m here to tell you that it’s not the “get-rich-quick” career path as some would lead you to believe. It’s hard work, and you have to really love it in order to excel at it and make the big bucks. There is a huge difference between an average programmer and an A+ programmer. 

 

MYTH #4: ANYONE CAN TEACH CODING

There are a lot of bogus coding schools that aren’t valued by employers and if you fall for their ads, you could end up paying thousands of dollars for an education that won’t get you a job.

That’s why we’ve put together this definitive guide to a career in software development so you can get connected with the coding academies (online and offline) that HR managers and recruiters respect. There’s something for every budget and every learning style. Some of us learn better face-to-face in the classroom, some of us work full-time and the only time we can learn is at night or early morning, and some of us already know we love programming and all we need is a little extra help when we get stuck. 

Send me a note (see the bottom of this page) and I’ll notify you when we release this guide.

 

MYTH #5: GETTING A JOB IS EASY

You may be able to get small freelance projects if you learn the basics of coding, but to get a high-paying software development job, you really need to have some advanced coding skills. When someone reads your code, they can tell where you are in terms of your skills! In addition to your resume, your code speaks volumes about your abilities.

Publish your work to GitHub, participate in forums like StackOverflow, write code during Hack-a-thons, and get noticed for your work. That’s the best way for employers to call you instead of you calling them.

 

MYTH #6: ALL CODING SKILLS ARE THE SAME

Actually, there are many kinds of programming languages you can learn. Make sure you choose the one that fits your talents, interests and lifestyle based on our tailor-made assessments for each type of programming skill (there are many sub-specialties like front-end programming, back-end programming, etc.)

 

MYTH #7: ALL SOFTWARE JOBS ARE IN SILICON VALLEY

Depending on where you are based and the number of tech companies in your area, there may be a variety of software jobs available. It is true that in Silicon Valley, highly experienced software programmers are constantly getting offers from Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. The top talent in the field earns $150,000 – $300,000 and often receive stock options and large sign-on bonuses. The best thing to do is to check your local market to see what skills are most valuable and what the average pay for those jobs are. You may be surprised with what you find out! 

 If you’re thinking of pursuing this career just for the money, you’re making a big mistake. You have to love coding to be really good at it.

 

MYTH #8: YOU HAVE TO WORK A 9-5 JOB IN AN OFFICE

man working on the beach

Wikimedia Commons

If you decide you want to work for yourself, you can offer up your services as a freelancer, and have the flexibility to work from anywhere. Software programming is one of the fields that makes it easier to have a laptop lifestyle and travel while still earning a great living. Many companies in the tech industry have remote workforces or allow their employees to be flexible about work hours.

 

MYTH #9: YOUR CAREER PATH IS LIMITED TO TECHNOLOGY

This is not true. You can move into a marketing, sales or product management role and even move into a leadership role (CEO, COO). It’s very hard for software companies to find sales executives with a technical understanding so they pay a lot more for this hybrid skill set. In fact, if you have a technical background, you are highly valued when you move into leadership roles.

MYTH #10: CODING SKILLS ARE EVERYTHING

Here’s a little secret though: most programmers (however gifted they may be in writing code) struggle to communicate and don’t have the best track record in working with cross-functional teams. They resist change and can be hard to deal with. You’ll hear marketing and product development teams groan, “IT’s refusing to build this feature – they say it will be six months before they can add it to the product roadmap!” Often it is a failure of communication so if you want your career to be like a rocket ship, learn soft skills: how to communicate, how to solve hard problems, and how to develop consensus and compromise in difficult situations.

 Along with coding skills, join Toastmasters and learn how to present, and do a course in conflict resolution. These skills may prove to be as valuable (if not more valuable) as your programming resume. Most of all, can you be goofy and sing karaoke? You will be different from all your peers and really stand out!

women doing karaoke

Flickr

 

If you’d like to receive our Definitive Guide to Careers in Software, fill up the form below and we will notify you when it’s released. Make sure to write, SOFTWARE GUIDE in the comments.
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