Half of High-Paying Jobs Require Computer Coding Skills, Research Finds

Posted By Terri Williams on September 28, 2016 at 10:05 am
Half of High-Paying Jobs Require Computer Coding Skills, Research Finds

Technology is changing the job market for college grads, redefining the requirements for good jobs. For example, a recent report reveals that finance and accounting majors lack big data analysis skills. Another report reveals gaps between the most popular majors and the most in-demand jobs – and the vast majority of those in-demand professions are STEM-related careers.

It’s probably no surprise that many of the most lucrative jobs in the U.S. and abroad are in information technology. But recent research by Burning Glass and Oracle Academy found that coding skills aren’t just for IT grads. By analyzing 26 million online job postings, researchers discovered that approximately half of the jobs in the top income quartile (paying a minimum of $57,000 a year) required some degree of computer coding skills. It’s a trend that’s likely to gain steam.

Below are 10-year job growth projections:

8.80% IT jobs requiring coding skills
7.20% All jobs requiring coding skills
6.40% Other career track jobs


And jobs requiring coding skills pay (on average) $22,000 more each year:

$84K Jobs requiring coding skills
$62K Other career track jobs

Why do non-IT majors need coding skills?

Actually, this growing requirement is a reflection of technology’s role in our daily lives. Julien Barbier, CEO of Holberton School of Software Engineering, tells GoodCall that in 2011, the Wall Street Journal published an article declaring, “Software is eating the world.” But now, Barbier says software is the world and the world is software. “We are now entering the fourth industrial revolution, led by the convergence of software, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things – everything in our lives is software-driven.”

Whereas coding skills used to be required to be a software engineer, Barbier says they are now required to be a citizen of the world. “If you don’t understand code, you simply do not understand the world you are living in, and that’s why it is so important for everyone – not only computer science students – to learn how to code.”

In fact, Shobana Radhakrishnan, founder and CEO of TekSpark, tells GoodCall, “Over time, programming will become almost as prevalent as spoken language – not a goal in itself but a means to accomplish whatever you choose to do.” Radhakrishnan explains that companies are increasingly using online methods to achieve a variety of goals – including the ability to reach consumers. “The ability to be self-reliant in getting your work done efficiently is going to depend pretty directly on your ability to use modern programming solutions and develop basic things on your own or with your own staff.”

So what are some of the specific non-IT jobs/scenarios that would need coding skills? According to Mark Stehlik, assistant dean for outreach and teaching professor at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science, nearly all of them.  “Virtually anything, from stress analysis to market research, involves manipulation of data, and often at scale; most science labs use equipment to collect data and then write simple programs to analyze that data, let alone simulations of star systems or any other complex systems.”

As another example, Stehlik says, “Grocery stores analyze customer purchases to target coupons and specials, but to do so involves analyzing terabytes of data and yields far more accurate information than focus groups.” As data mining and machine learning continue to be used in more application areas, and as more devices communicate with the Internet, Stehlik says most professions will routinely interact with software.

Barbier also notes that learning to code can give entrepreneurs an edge. “Many of our students have degrees in a number of different areas, but in order to further their businesses, they need to have a level of technical expertise,” Barbier says.

And in a recent LinkedIn post, Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, wrote, “If you are joining the company in your 20s, unlike when I joined, you’re going to learn to code.” Immelt continues, “It doesn’t matter whether you are in sales, finance, or operations. You may not end up being a programmer, but you will know how to code.”

Advice for students on coding skills

Like Immelt, Stehlik thinks it’s important for students, even if they’re not majoring in IT, to learn about computation. “And this has been borne out in increasing national interest in how to offer high school computer science courses, both the new Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles course as well as the APCS A course, as well as how to count those courses for high school graduation requirements.”

There has been significant progress. Stehlik says roughly 22,000 students took the APCS A exam five years ago. But in 2016, that number swelled to almost 60,000 students, representing a 20% to 25% increase in each of the past 5 years. “The White House’s recent Summit on CS4All is probably the most visible example of increasing national interest, but many states have been joining this discussion over the past few years.”

Daniel Filous, director of Marketing for App Academy, also recommends that students invest in learning the high-level concepts of software development. “For students who don’t major in computer science, there are a growing number of options to pursue – part-time courses, online programs, short in-person programs like App Academy’s Bootcamp Prep and more.”

And organizations such as Radhakrishnan’s TekSpark are helping to build the next generation of tekkies. “We conduct hackathons in the San Francisco Bay Area to foster love and exposure to programming among teens with diverse backgrounds with the specific goal of promoting diversity of all kinds – gender, racial and ethnic.”

The bottom line is that students who are not prepared for the fourth industrial revolution will find themselves in an undesirable place. According to Barbier, “In a not-so-distant future, you will either be told what to do by machines and robots, OR you will tell them what to do. Where do you want to stand? Learn to code.”

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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