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Don’t Buy Gadgets, Program Them: 5 Reasons You Should Learn to Code

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It’s that time of year again. It’s time to gather round the turkey and deflect your relatives’ prying questions about your career and your love life. It’s time to be bombarded with Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals for the latest trendy product. But, wait. Why buy all of those gadgets when you could program them? Yeah, you read that right, and that’s not the only benefit to learning how to code. Here are 5 reasons you definitely need to consider a career in programming.

1. You get to make cool stuff all the time

Being able to actually *make* something and see the finished product is incredibly satisfying. It’s a special moment when you put the finishing touches on something you created or played a major role in creating.

In most cases, turning an idea into reality can be expensive. Tangible things require tangible inputs, and those inputs can be pretty expensive. Constructing a building, opening a restaurant, making an indie film—all those things require significant capital investment. But in software development, the only tangible thing you need is a computer with a text editor. You’re only limited by the hours in a day.

2. It’s a skill in high demand

Get ready to be the most popular kid in the cafeteria, because the job market is exploding with a need for programmers. Just to give you an idea, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 27% growth in available web developer jobs over the next 8 years. Professional developers are no longer confined to “tech” companies. As technology has creeped into just about every facet of business and personal life, everyone and their mother has developed an online presence. Want to work for a flashy tech startup? Go for it. Prefer the stability of a large multinational? They’re clamoring for developers too. Your options are wide open.

This also means that the community is growing. So not only will you have a solid career in a great industry, you’ll have tons of people to connect with, to help you expand your knowledge, and to collaborate with.

But the most important part about having a skill that’s in high demand. You’re largely insulated from the uncertainty of the job market. So if you take that job offer at a startup that promises to change the world through their *revolutionary* wifi-enabled toaster (with Twitter integration!) and the company doesn’t get the VC funding they hope for, you’ll have recruiters chasing after you as soon as you change your LinkedIn status to “it’s complicated.”

3. Money

It’s not *all* about the dolla dolla bills, but a little extra cash never hurt anyone. Tech professionals are among the highest paid workers out of any industry. Fun Fact: Only doctors beat out software engineers on the list in terms of salary and job security. Plus, there is huge potential to grow and develop your skills so that your base salary can keep expanding along with your knowledge. A recent salary survey by Dice shows that average tech salaries have jumped 7.7% just in the last year. Bonus and contract rates were also reported to have increased between 2014 and 2015.

Wherever you end up—whether it’s in Boston, New York, San Francisco, or even Dallas—you’ll be living comfortably. All things considered, developers have roughly the same salary in relation to living expenses no matter where they are. So when you’re deciding on where to live (or where to attend a bootcamp), choose a place based on where you *want* to be rather than average starting salary. Those mouth-watering 6-figure starting salaries in Silicon Valley mean a lot less when you’re looking at an average monthly rent of $3,500 for a 1-bedroom apartment (or $4,750 for a 2-bedroom).

Another bonus: according to Glassdoor’s top 25 jobs for a healthy work-life balance, the software developer category comes in high at a rating of 3.7 out of 5.  Money is nice, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot if you don’t have time away from work to spend it. Working in software development offers the best of both worlds: great pay *and* plenty of time to enjoy yourself.

The tech industry is a great place to work—no ties or high heels required. But a denim-friendly workplace is just the beginning. The tech space is overwhelmingly laid back and open in order to facilitate collaboration and a space people actually enjoy coming to day after day. People who are happy in their work environments tend to be up to 12% more productive than their unhappy counterparts and the tech industry is taking notes.

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