Does the thought of spending your days building the iPhone app of tomorrow make your heart swell? Are you looking to increase your job prospects, or earn a higher salary?

In this post I’ll be writing about the amazing job opportunities available in tech, and how if you want to build your new career or change your old one it’s time you started to learn web development. Programming skills are a hot commodity and only going to grow more in demand.

Jobs involving computer science skills are growing at a lightning pace, but many employers are struggling to find employees with the right skill sets. According to the Brookings Institution, job openings for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) take longer to fill than jobs in any other field, though they are among the highest-paying. This is by no means a sign that workers aren’t trying to get jobs in tech.

The need for employment is strong, with unemployment levels around the world remaining high since the recession. The unemployment rate across the Eurozone, for example, was at 11.5% and at 6.1% in the U.S in July. The #1 reason those without a job are finding it hard to score one of these numerous coding jobs employers are begging to fill is because many lack the technical competencies necessary for the job. There are simply not enough people who are trained to code!

How To Increase Your Chances Of Getting A Job By Learning How To Code

What Can We Do To Solve This Problem?

Well, unless workers start training today, this tech skills gap will only widen. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2020 1.4 million new computer science jobs will exist, but American universities are on track to fill only one-third of those positions. In Europe, too, demand is set to vastly increase while supply falls. The European Commission estimates that between 730,000 and 1.3 million information and communications technology positions will open up across Europe by 2020, but the number of computer science graduates in Europe has been steadily decreasing since 2006.

Unless workers (that means you!) start training to code now, a huge portion of these positions will go unfilled. This issue is not limited to tech companies; in fact, the tech skills gap is spreading into every industry. As data-based decision-making becomes increasingly common across all fields, including government offices, hospitals, advertising agencies and more, tech skills are becoming essential tools for scoring many jobs.

So What Does This Mean For You?

The tech skills gap means that learning to code will boost your chances of getting a job – and not just any job, but a job you like, and a high-paying one at that!

What You Gain When You Upgrade Your Skill Set And Learn To Code

  • A decent salary
  • Creative fulfillment
  • A flexible schedule

These perks are just the tip of the iceberg when you know how to code. Programming skills are likely to bring you some pretty sweet benefits. In-office recreation centers, unlimited vacation time, self-improvement funds and free professional massages are a few of the freebies you might encounter at a tech company. Think these perks are more than you could ever ask for? Think again. It’s becoming commonplace for technology professionals and IT contractors in the U.S. to earn six-figure salaries.

There are a lot of reasons to keep one’s technical skills polished—and optimism high,writes Nick Kolakowski at Dice.

Now highly in-demand, programming skills can grant you access to almost any industry that interests you. Yes, you read that right – learning to code can be your “in” not only to traditional tech companies but also to so much more. From jobs at startups and small businesses to long-standing corporations and organizations in the sciences, arts, education, and more, there’s something for everyone who learns how to code.

Interested In Learning To Code, But Not So Keen On Leaving Your Current Employer?

If you aren’t looking to change jobs, programming skills can improve your work life. Your additional tech knowledge will make you more adaptable to new technologies, and your newfound ability to take on more advanced technological tasks will give you an edge. Even if you do not work in a technological role, learning to code will enable you to collaborate with your more techie coworkers and put you in a position to hire techies. In fact, learning to code **now, when programming skills are at their prime, will make you indispensable to your company and could even put you in line for a **promotion.

As Emma Sinclair, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of EnterpriseJungle, told us, learning new skills will only increase your employability and show that you are a self-starter:

“Whether it’s learning to ‘speak finance’ or how to code, tackling a new skill in sectors at the heart of business can only increase your employability. You don’t have to be a pro, but showing a potential new employer that you recognise learning doesn’t stop at school or college and that you’ve taken time to upgrade your competency in an important field speaks volumes about how motivated you are, especially if you want to change career paths. Smart employers looks for knowledge-hungry people with an ability to learn rather than solely relying on existing know-how.”

How You Can Learn To Code

Ready to upgrade your skills and pursue a career in tech? Learn to code at your own pace while you continue on at you day job, and focus on the skills you want to learn. Here are a few examples of free and paid courses, both online and off.

Online offerings

Codecademy

Offerings: HTML, CSS, Javascript, jQuery, Python, Ruby, PHP

Features : Free; self-paced; interactive modules

Selling point: Codecademy prides itself on being the first world’s first truly net native educational offering

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Bloc

Offerings: Full stack web development, frontend web development, iOS, Android, UX design

Features: Full-time and part-time offerings; portfolio-building projects

Selling point: Bloc’s mentor-based intensive program is designed as a course-to-career training program

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Thinkful

Offerings: Frontend web development, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, iOS, Node.js, jQuery, Git

Features: 24/7 community support; one-on-one online mentor sessions; customized curriculums

Selling point: Community focus that groups students into skill groups for additional support

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Udacity

Offerings: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Git, Python, Android, iOS, Hadoop, web development, UX design, machine learning and more

Features : Project-based learning; expert feedback; influenced by industry experts from Google, AT&T and more

Selling point: Udacity’s “nanodegree” program aims to help students build credentials recognized by industry leaders. Currently available for frontend web development

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Treehouse

Offerings: Web design, front end web development, Ruby on Rails, iOS, Android, PHP, WordPress, business Features: Self-paced; over 1,000 video tutorial offerings; access to filmed conferences; free 14-day trial Selling point: Score points as you complete tasks so you can easily track your progress

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Skillshare

Offerings: HTML, CSS, iOS, gaming, entrepreneurship, photography, music, film, fashion and more

Features : Project-based; celebrity teachers (who wants to take a class under James Franco?)

Selling point: Skillshare offers online courses taught by professionals in all fields, making for some fairly entertaining (and definitely non-traditional) experiences

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CareerFoundry

Offerings: Web development course, UX Design course, UI Design course, IOS Developer course

Features: Daily mentor task review; weekly mentor Skype call; study at your own pace

Selling point: Like other organizations, CareerFoundry helps you learn to code from the comfort of your own home (or wherever you happen to lug your MacBook). But what makes CareerFoundry stand out from other online offerings is its focus on mentorship. Every CareerFoundry student is paired with an experienced mentor who will not only guide them through their learning but also help them kickstart their career in tech.

Offline offerings

General Assembly

Offerings: Business foundations, data analysis, digital marketing, mobile development, product design, UX design, web development

Features : 90-minute one-off lectures; full-time and part-time courses; meetups; demo nights; hackathons; choice online courses

Selling point: GA’s campuses provide physical spaces where students and teachers can meet, learn and collaborate many cities around the world, including Hong Kong, London, Melbourne, New York and San Francisco

Start Your Career In Tech Today

High quality coding courses are available no matter where you live in the world. The only thing that you’re waiting on to start your career in tech is you – so get cracking! Here are steps for putting yourself on the right track.

1) Learn To Code

Ready to broaden your skills and improve your job prospects? It’s time to roll up your sleeves and start coding. Determine which skills you want to learn, and choose a course that suits your schedule and learning style. If you’re looking for a skill set with the most job prospects, consider taking on iOS, Android and HTML 5, which are highly in demand. “Developers, entrepreneurs and innovation leaders stressed the fact that in the current market it is especially difficult to find employees with domain specific skills (especially iOS, Android and HTML5 experts),” writes the European Commission in the 2014 Web Skills Survey Report.

2) Build Your Portfolio

You can learn to code all you want, but you’ll never gain real development skills unless you practice. Take advantage of your course assignments as opportunities to build portfolio pieces. Then volunteer to help a friend with a website – or design a website for your new blossoming personal brand! Do whatever it takes to complete real-world tasks and you’ll be able to refine your skills and demonstrate your value to potential employers and clients.

3) Work At A Startup

Once you’ve started your portfolio you’ll be ready to approach a startup regarding an internship. Of all companies, why approach a startup, you ask? Startups are often more approachable than established companies, offer more flexible work environments , and push you to learn about a wide range of topics in a very (very!) short time, which is the perfect environment for an enthusiastic new programmer or designer: take it from someone who’s worked with several startups around the world. Start by researching startups in your area and choosing the few that seem the most meaningful to you. Next reach out to the startup’s CEO or other relevant leader and explain your interest. For example, when I spent three months living in Buenos Aires, I browsed the website of a local startup accelerator and discovered an up-and-coming travel business whose mission strongly aligned with my values. After speaking with the CEO I was soon brought on as an intern, winning me a valuable learning experience that became the springboard to many of my future freelance gigs.

4) Follow Your Dream

Once you’ve built your portfolio and tested your skills in the fast-paced startup scene, it’s time to reflect on your long-term career goals. How do your newfound coding skills fit into your 5, 10, or 20-year plan? Once you’ve finalized where you want to go, strut your stuff and start applying to the companies of your dreams. The flexible hours, masseuse and catered company lunches await you!

5) Get Hired

Openings for workers with programming skills are set to soar over the next few years, but there won’t be enough workers to fill them. If you’re looking for work with high pay, stability, big benefits and a creative challenge, or just to make yourself indispensable in your current job, the time to learn to code is now! With so many courses available for all kinds of programming, it’s in your hands to gain new skills, build your portfolio, and get hired!

If you’re still not sure that learning to code is right for you, we’ve put together a free, 7-day Web Development Email Course. You’ll find out all about how to set up the right tools, how to build you first website and what the next steps are for launching your web development career.