Maybe Hillary Clinton didn’t actually call millennials “basement dwellers,” but there’s a reason she alluded to the fact that a lot of them are living in their parents’ basements. The Great Recession is, of course, a convenient soundbyte to explain why the job market seems so hopeless for many, even those much older than our most recent wave of college graduates. But recovery from the housing crash alone doesn’t account for the vast transitioning our economy is currently undergoing.

For decades, linear specialization in strict disciplines often quickly landed jobs with high promotion potential. But what was once a job title (i.e., graphic designer) may now be reduced to a required skill for a more expansive job role. Job postings for marketing positions may seek some experience in graphic design, web design, even coding. Even traditional tech jobs are quickly becoming redefined.

Though computer programming jobs are projected to decline over the next decade, the need for coding skills throughout the general workforce is greater than ever, and will continue to rise. As our economy becomes more digitized, more and more industries beyond just computer programming will require each worker to boast an umbrella of skill sets, and coding holds the key to this future: hybrid jobs.

Coding Is No Longer Just For Programmers

According to a study compiled by Burning Glass Technologies, coding is no longer the sole responsibility of the programmer. Five major job categories now require advanced coding skills:

  1. Data Analysts Business Analyst, Financial Analyst
  2. Artists and Designers – Graphic Designer, User Experience Designer, Web Designer
  3. Engineers Mechanical Engineer, Civil Engineer, Engineering Technician
  4. IT Workers Software Developer, Network Administrator, Computer Support
  5. Scientists – Medical Researcher, Chemist, Environmental Scientist

The Burning Glass study also states that:

  • “There were nearly 7 million job openings in the U.S. last year for roles requiring coding skills. This represents 20 percent of the total market for career-track jobs that pay $15 an hour or more”
  • “Jobs with coding skills are projected to grow 12 percent faster than the job market overall in the next 10 years”
  • “IT jobs are expected to grow even more rapidly: 25 percent faster than the overall market
  • Half of all programming openings are available across a variety of industries: “Finance, manufacturing, healthcare, and other sectors outside of the technology”
  • “Programmers are in every industry and, as a result, job prospects and job security are no longer as closely tied to the ups and downs of the tech sector
  • There’s fast-growing  “demand for [coding] skills throughout the country, beyond the regions usually considered technology centers


Pay, too, is much better for those with coding skills:

  • “Jobs valuing coding skills pay $22,000 per year more, on average, than jobs that don’t: $84,000 vs $62,000 per year”
  • “49% of the jobs in the top wage quartile (>$58,000/yr) value coding skills”


But I Thought I’d Be Replaced by A Robot?

In a TechCrunch article, Zach Supalla, CEO of Particle, likens our current economic state to that of the invention of the steam engine: when everyone feared that steam power would forever put an end to manual labor, while stealing the jobs of thousands, it actually created entirely new professions in entirely new industries. As we enter the age of the Internet of Things, Supalla believes that, for the next 10 years, any industry involving electronics and equipment will experience the same sort of disruption the steam engine caused.

The transition of companies and entire industries into a hyper-disruptive tech economy requires what Joseph E. Aoun, President of Northeastern University, calls “systems thinking.”

In his article in the Harvard Business Review, Aoun likens the future of economy to how students should be taught a particular discipline:

“For example, at the university I lead, students interested in sustainability don’t just study environmental science. Rather, they also take courses that expose them to relevant concepts in engineering, physics, economics, data analysis, health sciences, urban planning, and the law—the range of disciplines they’d likely encounter if they worked on sustainability in the real world.”

In real-world application, Aoun points to aviation:

Andrea Cox, of GE’s Aviation Engineering division, describes how their teams might be made of hundreds of specialists, ranging from material engineers to designers, all of them thinking about different elements of an airplane’s engine design. All of them, though, have to be able to grasp the wider endeavor of keeping a plane in the air. ‘A design engineer has to understand how a part operates,” she notes, “but also how it fits into the design of its module, and then how the module fits into an engine, and how the engine fits into an airplane.’”

This sort of symbiotic teamwork and innovation can hardly be replicated by a two-legged box of components and algorithms (yet).

And as interconnectivity begins to bridge every single sphere of our daily living, the ability to write code and to understand a variety of programming languages will become imperative for cross-discipline teamwork.

Never A Better Time Than Now

If you’d like to make the leap, here are some online resources to begin learning how to code:

If you’d like to know how coding ability and fluency in multiple programming languages can reinvent your business, contact tekMountain today.


This blog was produced by the tekMountain Team of Sean AhlumMike PattonRod WhisnerAmanda SipesBill DiNome, and with lead writer Zach Cioffi 

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