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Confronting Perception: Vocational Coding On the Rise

What do you think of when you picture of coder? Is it a guy between the ages of 18 and 22 sitting on a lumpy couch with chip crumbs and coffee cups scattered around him? The sleeves of his discolored sweatshirt from a college he once attended bunched around his elbows while his fingers fly across the keyboard? Do you look at him and presume he’s coming up with the next game-changing, out-of-nowhere application that will rock the world?

There’s no denying that there are some coders out there that are like this. They stay up all night to bust out some application they hope will catapult them into success. But not all coders see programming as a get-rich scheme. Not all of them are college drop outs. Not all of them are young. Not all of them are male.

This perception leaves out the men and women who work 40 hour work weeks at banks, manufacturing plants or finance agencies. It leaves out the students interning at help desks or in support departments. It doesn’t provide an accurate or full picture of who a coder really is.

Most people have come to understand that coding doesn’t require a four-year computer science degree to get a quality job, but many advisors and educators still push students to pursue four-year universities over vocational schools.

The reality is that while students can benefit from a bachelor or associates degree in programming or computer science, it isn’t always necessary. There are many online certification programs that allow students to bypass traditional educational paths and still make a decent living.

Now, students who follow this path won’t always have the knowledge to create new algorithms for complex trading networks, but they will have enough of an understanding to craft together JavaScript for a local business. They can enter web design teams, IT departments or data analysis teams and be just as successful as a manufacturing worker, truck driver or construction worker.

Technology is the wave of the future. No one can deny that. Middle-class coders are in a prime spot to get in at the ground floor of an emerging blue collar field. While politicians will shout that blue-collar jobs are being stolen from our country, many middle-class families have the opportunity to thrive in a market that is predicted to continue growing at a rate beyond most other occupations.

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