Why Knowing How to Code Is a Critical Skill for Today's Students

01/10/2014 02:11 pm ET | Updated Mar 12, 2014

Code is the single most important language you may not be learning. estimates that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computing positions available, but only 400,000 Computer Science students -- that is one million more opportunities than qualified individuals. Many industry professionals believe that if you hope to secure a financially lucrative, stable job after college, you should pursue a Computer Science degree.

Several business leaders, computer science professionals, and educators are lobbying for additional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) exposure, as these fields often yield a high number of employment opportunities. A commonly stated goal for this endeavor is to assist America in becoming globally competitive within these fields -- rather than frequently relying on foreign talent. Here are some reasons to go about acquiring this increasingly valuable skill:

Widely available learning methods.

A variety of online programs (several of which are free) teach basic computer science knowledge and code. Some of the more popular, free options are Codeacademy,, OpenCourseWare Consortium, and Coursera. It may be simpler to inquire with teachers and school administration about offering these classes as electives or pre-requisites to pursue a Computer Science major. Do not avoid online courses, however. Many working professionals and entrepreneurs are self-taught and might have little or no formal training. Remember that sites that assess your knowledge via practice tests and flashcards can be of great benefit. My company has one such computer science test.

Growing career opportunities.

Technological innovations will continue to increase career opportunities for Computer Science majors. The most popular openings are typically for computer programmers/developers, website/mobile developers, video game developers, software developers/engineers and data analysts/computer system engineers. The best method to learn about future careers is to contact professionals in the industry and directly discuss opportunities with them.

Connecting with talented teachers.

Recruiting qualified computer science teachers can be a legitimate obstacle. However, organizations like ScriptEd adhere to a community approach. It identifies volunteer developers, programmers and other technical experts to teach computer science classes. Volunteering and uniting to extend technical knowledge is a common practice in computer science fields. It is highly likely that you may be able to locate a partner in your hometown.

Rudimentary knowledge.

Learning code is not as complex as it may seem, especially if done gradually. You will not master code in a single class or by only completing several online tutorials. Instead, these opportunities provide you with a strong foundation to assess whether or not code comes naturally to you and if it is something you wish to pursue further. And do not forget -- understanding the basics of computer science will aid you in nearly any field, as almost all businesses are emphasizing technology today.