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Are Coding Skills Required To Work In Tech?

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After interviewing over 50 professionals in tech, including technology product leaders at places like LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, Slack and more, we’ve found that less than 5% of them have any coding skills, and almost none of them are required to code as part of their day to day job.

And yet most people interested in tech still believe that you need to learn how to code to start a software business, or to get a job working for one. What started off as a well intentioned mantra about a decade ago, motivating young adults and career transitioners to learn coding skills to prepare themselves for the future economy, has turned into a catch all phrase that is no longer accurate in the world of tech.

While technical talent is still in high demand, more than 50% of the opportunities in the sector require zero coding skills. Telling everyone that they should learn how to code is akin to telling everyone that they should become a doctor. Great advice if you’re passionate about saving people’s lives, but detrimental if it’s not aligned to your interests, skills, and raw talents.

Take Sarah Blakely, the founder of Spanx, as an example. After graduating college with a degree in communications, she originally pursued a career as an attorney, a path that is still touted as a secure career, even though it’s one of the most highly saturated fields in the market, quickly becoming automated away with technology.

After nearly failing the LSAT exam, Blakely worked a short stint at Disney World before finding success in sales, being quickly promoted to national sales trainer at the age of 25. She eventually went on to leverage her sales skills to secure distribution contracts for her hosiery consumer product idea, growing the business to a $1 billion valuation over the next 20 years.

The technology sector is no different. The last decade brought about hundreds of coding bootcamps designed to teach technical skills to people that were looking for a lucrative career in the field. While some were able to succeed as software developers and architects, the market was flooded with junior technical talent and people that had neither the aptitude for coding, nor the desire for it.

In the next few decades it is estimated that a large number of technical roles will be automated away as technical capability of Artificial Intelligence tools begin to outpace the speed and efficiency of human programmers.

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Even in today’s economy, the most successful technically skilled employees possess strong skills across communication, management, and leadership allowing them to quickly advance beyond the role of an individual contributor engineer.

Software businesses rely on many other skilled employees to be successful beyond the skills required to code a valuable product. Teams across big tech at places like Google and Facebook rely on experts in Business Development, Marketing, Product Management, Client Services, and much more to drive value to their customers. While having a general understanding of technology and basic technical acumen is imperative for success in a technology company, learning how to code is not.

The new economy will place far more value on individuals with transferable skills that are comfortable with adapting to new environments and quickly developing industries. This is why professionals from industries like education, non-profits, retail, healthcare, and more are already successfully transitioning into roles in tech. To stand out for these opportunities, it is important to be able to clearly communicate why your existing skills and interests can bring business value to the organization you’re interested in. To most hiring managers this will be far more important than any given technical skill.


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