Coding As a Trade
One of my coworkers recently left an interesting Wall Street Journal article on my desk - it was a short piece by Christopher Mims about how programming should be thought of as a trade, more akin to welding or woodworking than, say, structural engineering (Side note: the article is behind the WSJ's paywall. Sorry!). Mainly, he thinks that a computer science degree shouldn't be the only thing that can get you into the field.
Mim's argument is that more and more people who work as programmers don't have a computer science degree - or sometimes any college degree at all. This is partially because there's a tremendous shortage of people to fill programming jobs, making employers more willing to substitute experience for diplomas, and that's because there's just so many things that need to be programmed. He claims that 67% of the programming jobs in the U.S. aren't in tech companies - they're in health care or machining, all the places where the equipment they now use day to day needs people to program the computers that run them. The other thing fueling this switch is the abundance of non-traditional resources people can use to teach themselves.
"Computer-science degrees teach theory and help the best engineers advance the state of the art, but we've entered an age in which demanding that every programmer has a degree is like asking every bricklayer to have background in architectural engineering."
While there is a bit of the usual breathless technology messianism in the article, it does seem that this shift could have some great consequences. Enrollment in alternative education opportunities tends to have better representation from people of color and women, and, given how many people in the U.S. are currently under, or unemployed, a shift to hiring people without requiring a CS degree could change the face of the tech industry for the better.
Are you learning to code? What resources do you use? Are you planning on making it a career or are you just curious?