Are you someone who loves tech and wants to make a living from it? Do you want a job that pays well and offers tons of opportunity for growth? If so, then you should consider becoming a software developer.
Many people want to know if it’s still worth learning how to code in 2021. There are a lot of questions about the job market and where it’s going. After all, the pandemic has changed life in all areas of work.
The world looks so different now than it did just last year.
Many people are starting to worry about the future. However, I can tell you right now that there is nothing to stress over. Software developers are here to stay and so are their paychecks.
There’s no need to fear what the future holds for programming. More opportunities for coders exist now than 10 years ago. If you’re currently looking to become a programmer, you’re not making the wrong choice.
This article will list the top six reasons why it’s worth becoming a software developer in 2021.
1. Software Developer Jobs Are Everywhere
Look around you and tell me how many electronics you have. Then tell me if any need software to function? The chances are that they all do.
That means software developers have worked on almost everything you use.
If you made a phone call today, watched Netflix, or read an e-book, you’ve benefited from a software developer’s work. If you’ve gone to the ATM, counted your steps on a fitness tracker, or made an online reservation, you’ve used software.
Even manufacturing, transportation, engineering, and financial services all use software. Software development is everywhere in our modern economy.
The world needs good programmers.
Software engineers can get a job at almost any tech company. The top four companies hiring developers now are Amazon, IBM, U.S. Bancorp, and JPMorgan Chase. Amazon pays programmers around $122k as a base salary. They expect their employees to know Java, C++, and C.
Banks are on the list due to the demand for software developers in finance. With blockchain now on the rise, learning how to code is more important than ever.
CNBC estimated that blockchain developers earn around $150,000-$170,000 annually.
That’s one of the highest-paid salaries in software development.
But Won’t (AI) Take My Job?
I can see why there are concerns about the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). Even Bill Gates expects AI to write better code than humans eventually.
Now while his claim is most likely true, there is still nothing to worry about.
Currently, AI is capable of writing its own code. Yet, it’s not completely independent. AI still needs the help of humans to write software it can’t. The real concern keeping developers up at night is what happens when they don’t need us anymore?
Towardsdatascience.com talks about the potential job loss from artificial intelligence in one of their articles. They mention that AI will most likely start writing complex code by itself in the future. But that doesn’t mean programmers will lose their jobs.
Instead, AI can actually help create new jobs.
The more likely scenario is that software developers will have to adapt. Adapting to change shouldn’t be anything new, since this industry is always evolving.
So no, AI will not take programming jobs but instead will change the industry and even create new jobs.
2. You Might Get To Work for Yourself
People tend to forget that there are other opportunities out there besides working a 9-5. A software developer has the chance to be self-employed. Many programmers end up becoming successful freelancers.
The best part about freelancing is that you don’t have to wake up in the morning and commute to work.
Freelancers get to enjoy the freedom to work anytime and anywhere they want (as long as you have internet access, of course).
You could travel and see things that wouldn’t be possible with a 9-5. You really do have the freedom to live anywhere in the world.
No more having to live in expensive cities with overpriced rent either. However, some freelance jobs require that you live in either the state or country where the company is located. So it does sometimes depend on the client’s individual needs.
Nevertheless, most freelance programmers can live in cheaper states with lower taxes and rent. Sure, you will still report to a boss and have deadlines. But it sure beats having to live somewhere expensive like NYC or Los Angeles.
How To Become a Freelance Programmer in 2021
There are many ways to become a freelance programmer. Freelancers have to either start from scratch or use their previous experience to get clients.
I want you to look at your current resume and ask yourself “Would I hire me?”
If the answer is no, then you’ll need a better resume. Many software developers use their previous 9-5 experience to start freelancing.
That’s definitely a decent way to get started. But if you don’t have any development experience, you will have to take the traditional route. That includes getting a portfolio, social proof, and a personal website.
First, you need a portfolio of work to show clients. Use any website, app, or game that you’ve developed.
Second, get some social proof by programming for free. Pitch your services and offer to code other people’s websites, blogs, or apps. Then ask them to give you a referral.
Lastly, you will need a website. Think of the site as a professional business card to show clients. Post your contact information, referrals, and portfolio on it.
After that, pitch and try to find your first client.
3. You Don’t Need a Degree To Be a Software Developer
Out of all the things I mention in this article, not needing a degree is the best.
Why do you ask?
Well, it’s because of the current student loan crisis going on in America.
Degrees are becoming so expensive, and college grads are struggling to pay off debt. The best part about being a programmer is that you don’t need one!
However, does having a degree help?
Well, yes, it absolutely does. A college degree can help you stand out from the competitive crowd. Some companies even require a degree. But that doesn’t mean there are no ways around that requirement.
For instance, remember what I said before about being self-employed? Freelance programmers don’t need a degree of any kind.
The only things they need are:
- A portfolio.
- Most important of all, they must KNOW HOW TO CODE.
Clients do not care about where you went to school. They only want you to do the job well.
Even some traditional 9-5 jobs won’t require a degree anymore. Companies like Google, Apple, and even IBM no longer care about degrees.
The truth is that most companies care more about skill.
But to get a job at a company like Google without a degree, you will still need experience.
The best way to get that experience is to freelance. You can do what I said before and start working for free. Then get some clients after building up a portfolio.
Freelancing experience will give you the credibility to start applying for more traditional 9-5 jobs, like the high paying ones at Google.
The Alternatives to College
There are many ways to educate yourself without going to college.
For example, you could read books, take online courses, find a tutor, or create your own website.
Here are some of the most valuable programming languages to teach yourself this year:
- R Language
In 2021, these coding languages are used for developing video games, blockchain, apps, websites, and other software.
The demand for video games, blockchain, apps, and websites will increase in the future. So learning these languages now will give you a head start.
Likewise, courses offer tons of value when learning code.
They provide in-depth college-level education at a fraction of the price. If you struggle with learning from books, courses are the way to go. EdX is a programming course that even offers certification in specific topics. Certificates can look good on your resume.
Also, online tutors are another great learning source. They can give you a one-to-one experience that is hard to get elsewhere. You could even find programmers in your local town to help you directly.
However, in the end, the best experience is hands-on. Nothing beats learning how to develop your own website or app.
There’s no need to go crazy and create the next Uber. A blog or even a personal website will do just fine. Having your own platforms proves that you know how to code and didn’t just sleep through some degree or certificate program.
4. Being a Software Developer Is Fun
If you like puzzles and games, software development is going to be a blast. The truth is that programming can be fun. Software development feels like you’re solving a puzzle in a video game. Or it can even be like trying to crack a difficult math problem.
There are also tons of benefits for people who love video games.
If you’re a gamer, programming will be 10 times more fun. Instead of playing in someone else’s game, you can now make your own. But, are there long hours and tight deadlines in the gaming industry?
Sure, but that’s true with any job.
You can’t expect some random office gig to be any better than developing a game. You get to influence how it looks, feels, and plays.
That sounds like a good time to me.
What Do Software Engineers Do That Makes It Fun?
Bill Gates once said:
“Paul and I, we never thought that we would make much money out of the thing. We just loved writing software.”
As a software developer, there is that sense of accomplishment you get with this kind of work. Imagine trying to fix a pesky bug or a glitch. Trying hours to do something like that can be frustrating.
But the adrenaline you’ll get with the accomplishment is almost like feeling invincible.
Like I said before, being a software developer means you get to work out puzzles and create things. There are tons of challenges and problems waiting for you to solve. Doing work might not sound fun at first.
But the fulfillment you get from it is priceless.
Money.usnews rated the job satisfaction for software developers by upward mobility, stress level, and flexibility. Upward mobility was high, while stress level was average, and flexibility was above average.
Any job is going to have stress, no surprise there. Upward mobility is good news for those who want promotions.
However, flexibility being above average is a big positive. It means that people are satisfied with how flexible a software development career is.
Programmers can have time off and work from home.
Freelance developers can work on the beach or in their backyard.
Remote work is even possible now with a 9-5. COVID-19 is forcing a lot of companies to make changes. Many developers might never return to the office again.
Sometimes what makes a job fun is how much freedom it gives you to get away from work.
Not everyone has that luxury.
5. Your Creative Side Will Flourish
Are you someone who thrives in a creative work environment?
That’s good news if you plan on becoming a software developer. Creative people prosper in this field like never before. Why do you think individuals like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are considered the Da Vincis and Michelangelos of our time.
It’s because software development has turned into an art.
There was something magical about opening your first iPhone and playing around with it. The apps, the look, the music, the games, it was all amazing. I’m sure people had the same reaction in the 15th century when looking at the Mona Lisa.
Every time Microsoft updates their software, people are more concerned about how it looks over how it works. As a software developer, you’ll have full control over how these gadgets look.
If you’re creative and want to show it off, then your coding skills can do the trick.
These are the top creative software developer jobs:
- Blogger/Digital Marketer – Bloggers and digital marketers are exposed to programming languages all the time. Knowing how to code makes life as a blogger and marketer so much better. You will also have more control over how your site or your client’s site will look and feel.
- Web Developer – Obviously, this job takes a lot of creativity. If you want to become a web developer, clients will hire you to make their sites look pretty. So your creative skills can shine by showing them your artistic ability.
- Video Game Developer – This is probably the most popular creative programming job. Video game developers are on the front lines of the gaming world. They get to decide how game characters look and even act. You get to set their personalities through AI and make them human. This job requires a good understanding of C++ and some other languages.
6. You Will Make Good Money as a Software Developer
Lastly, the best perk of becoming a software developer in 2021 is the money. Programmers make more money now than ever before. There is also an expectation for the profession to grow in the future. SmartAsset.com states that the median salary of a software engineer is ($92,660).
The medium salary overall in the United States is about ($46,440).
Software developers make well over the median income in America. SmartAsset also mentions that the unemployment for people with a bachelor’s degree in computer science is only 3.6%. That makes it a lot less likely to be unemployed during a recession.
Just look at what happened during the pandemic. Software developers mostly kept their jobs and had the luxury of working from home.
Furthermore, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov) listed the job outlook for software developers from 2019-2029 as 22%. That is way higher than the average growth at 3.7%.
Here is proof of how valuable this profession will become. Plus, as the demand for software developers increases, so will the pay.
Software Developer Salary Details
Starting as a software engineer leaves you with many options to make money. The most entry-level position is a junior software developer.
According to Payscale.com, Junior software developers can make anywhere from $45,000 to $80,000. That is way higher than most entry-level salaries in the United States.
But it also depends on where you work.
If you get a job at one of the tech giants, you can expect to make more money.
Entry-level developers at Amazon or Google can earn over $100,000 annually. That kind of money can help you pay off loans and even buy a house.
Similarly, freelance programmers make an average starting salary of about $58,000. Freelancer income will vary depending on the quantity and quality of clients.
Yet, remember that you will also be self-employed. Your taxes will be higher, and there won’t be any benefits.
Those expenses will have to come out of your pocket.
The Bottom Line
In the end, becoming a software developer in 2021 is a good idea. The data shows that software engineers make a lot of money and that there will be demand for the job in the future.
It’s also fun and offers a creative outlet for people.
Remember to be passionate about the work you do. Developers can find their passion through the result of their work. Treat it like a piece of art, and have fun with it on the way.
Additionally, there are plenty of opportunities to work from home and be your own boss. That means no commute and the freedom to live wherever you want.
Plus, college is not required to get a job. You can teach yourself on the side of your day job. Start building a portfolio, and learn modern coding languages that employers need.
You should have no problem finding a job after that.
2021 is a great time to become a software developer. And it’s likely to stay that way for many years to come.