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OCCUPATIONAL MOBILITY - why you should consider learning how to code.

alexooo profile image alexooO ・5 min read

If you are reading this post it is most likely you have glanced through my profile or you will after reading this post.

I have been a civil servant specialised in social protection for the past 7years. In most recent times I call myself a web developer because I am have taught myself how to code websites and web applications and doing well at it.
Though I am yet to apply for my first position as a web developer and even get an interview offer, I pride myself in being able to learn something new which is high in demand. It wasn’t an easy journey, I am still learning and enjoying it.
Day in day out if not by ourselves, we consistently hear friends and colleagues talking about how unhappy they are with their current job and how they wished they could find a new job. The sad part is that the desire to get a new job is met with so much of BUTs and HOWs. HOW will I find a new job, BUT what other skill do I have to get another job, BUT I will start a new job as a junior staff, BUT my salary will be an entry-level salary, HOW will I deal with impostor syndrome. The truth is these BUTs and HOWs will exist as long as you keep entertaining them and you will never make any move.

Let’s briefly talk about what occupational Mobility is. Occupational Mobility, in its basic terms, can be defined as the ease at which a worker can leave one job for another in a different field. It is important to understand that occupational mobility is greatly affected by the level of transferrable skills. The mobility can be either vertical or horizontal. My focus here is the ability of labour to move from one task to an entirely new task in a different industry.

The psychological effect of learning how to code as a second skill

Now, someone may ask, so if you have not even tried finding a new job with your new-found skills why this much noise? I will answer that the source of this noise is the psychology and emotions at play. Do you prefer to be at a point you feel helpless or at the point you know you have another card under your sleeves to keep you in the “game” (employable or even freelance)?
For those of you who are active on tech blogging websites like or tech tweets on twitter you may have heard of Danny Thompson, he wrote beautifully how learning a new skill thus learning how to code transformed him from an unhappy egg frying cook to a happy programmer. He recounted how he applied discipline, self-motivation and determination learn how to code and landed himself a job in tech.
The psychology of going through that discipline to learn how to code was rooted in the burning desire to move to a different fulfilling occupation. Don’t get me wrong, having a happy career frying eggs is possible but in this particular case, Danny wasn’t happy with his job and his salary was nothing to be proud about.

Why learn programming as a conduit for occupational mobility?

The ease of mobility

“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a step”. In my case I realised that learning how to code could land me a job where human language was a barrier to getting a decent job. I started learning to code when I was studying in German for my masters (taught in English) and I couldn't speak German. I saw in most job adverts that German language requirement in most programming job was very minimal. I intend writing extensively on my journey to learning to code in a future post. I knew from the start it wasn’t going to be easy to learn how to code without prior computer science knowledge but I knew when I get good at it I will possess a very powerful creative and problem-solving skillset which can also land me a good job.
At first, it was the desire to get a job then later it became an “addictive” passion. Fortunately, the tech industry is an industry which thrives on passion and enthusiasm. Most employers are on the lookout for passionate developers not necessarily nerds. This makes the ease of entry bearable compared to other professions.

The career path is broad

Before I started learning to code using tutorials on youTube, I took plenty of time to research on areas/career paths in programming. I was thrilled to know the various career paths in programming. From machine learning, database, web development, cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence, networking just to mention a few. It is worth mentioning that just like any other profession there are bottlenecks to entry and choosing the programming area must be done having at the back of your mind availability of job and level of entry constraints. For example, it is more difficult for a non-computer science graduate to enter into computer systems engineering position than to enter into software application development.

Programmers are high in demand

One classical example of this can be inferred from the job market trends during this covid-19 period. Demand for online technologies went rocket high resulting in most tech companies making over 100% profit. Our society is increasingly going digital and most of these companies need software developers and programmers to work with to meet the market demands.

Plenty of languages to choose from

There are plenty of programming languages out there, they all have their strengths and weaknesses. Some have a steep learning curve and others have a relatively shallow one. Some are also very popular in the job markets and others are not. In most cases, their job market popularity is location and career-specific. For web development, JavaScript and PHP are very prominent, for data science and machine learning python is popular, for android and mobile development you may consider Java, Dart or Swift for IOS. Your choice must be informed by the job market and career path considerations.

You don’t need much to start (Financially)

To learn to code, all you need is your computer, code editors and you are good to start. I deliberately put financially in brackets just to emphasis point that there is more to learning how to code than the financial cost. It will cost you time and lots of practice. Learning to code can be very challenging, sometimes frustrating and you may quickly give up if you don’t start with the right mindset. Programming languages are most of the time very unforgiving, you need to understand that you are learning to give computers specific instructions they have been made to understand and anything other than that can produce an unhappy result.

You learn by doing

The three (3) golden rule of learning to code are practice, practice and practice more.
Give coding a thought if you are considering a new career opportunity.

Thank you.

Alex is a self-taught web developer with a passion for writing beginner-friendly posts.

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