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Do I Have to Learn to Code to Work in IT?



In the dynamic world of Information Technology (IT), a question frequently arises: "Do I have to learn to code to work in IT?" As a seasoned software development manager, I've witnessed the multifaceted nature of this field, and I'm here to share insights that might surprise you.


The Misconception of IT as a Monolith


Firstly, let's debunk a common myth: IT is not just about coding. The industry is vast, encompassing a range of roles that don't necessarily require you to write software. While coding is undoubtedly a significant part, it's akin to thinking that everyone in the film industry is a director or an actor. The reality is far more varied.


Systems thinking is more important than coding, but coding can help you to learn systems thinking. If you can write a recipe that can be applied an infinite number of times, that means you can build a system. That means you can scale. And that is the main benefit of coding and skill in any technology-related career.

Diverse Opportunities Beyond Coding


The IT landscape is filled with numerous career paths where coding is not the primary skill. Here are some notable examples:


  1. IT Support and Administration: These roles involve ensuring that IT systems run smoothly. You'll be solving technical problems, but not by writing code.

  2. User Experience (UX) and Design: A crucial aspect of IT products is how user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing they are. This field is more about understanding human-computer interaction than programming.

  3. Quality Assurance (QA) and Testing: QA professionals ensure that software works as intended. This role requires a keen eye for detail and a methodical approach, rather than deep coding skills.

  4. Project Management: Overseeing IT projects from conception to completion, project managers need strong organisational skills and an understanding of IT principles, but not necessarily coding proficiency.

  5. Data Analysis and Business Intelligence: These roles focus on interpreting data to make business decisions. Knowledge of coding can be beneficial, but it's not the core requirement.


When Coding Might Be Beneficial


That said, having some understanding of coding can be beneficial in the IT field, even if you're not in a programming-centric role. It helps you communicate more effectively with the development team and understand the technical aspects of your project. However, this doesn't mean you need to be an expert coder. Basic familiarity with programming concepts or learning a scripting language can often suffice.


You will be surprised that every company uses a programing environment, but hardly any uses it. It's Microsoft Excel (or Google Sheets). Both allow you to write simple functions (formulas) and more sophisticated routines (Macros). Both can be used by manually maintaining the content, but with a bit of effort, they can be transformed to extremely powerful data management systems and knowledge base for the business. The best programmers of my early years weren't the coders, but marketers who learned how to master Excel to x10 their team output.

The Importance of Soft Skills


Soft skills are just as vital in IT as technical skills. Abilities such as problem-solving, effective communication, adaptability, and teamwork are highly valued. In many roles, these skills can be more critical than the ability to code.


Learning Resources for Non-Coders


For those interested in IT but hesitant about coding, there are numerous resources available. Online courses, webinars, and industry blogs offer insights into various IT roles. Networking with professionals through platforms like LinkedIn can also provide a clearer picture of what different jobs entail.


The Evolving Nature of IT


The IT sector is continually evolving, and with it, the types of roles available. Emerging fields like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and cloud computing are creating new job opportunities that don't always require traditional coding skills.


Personal Experience and Advice


Throughout my career, I've worked with many successful IT professionals who aren't coders. Their contributions are invaluable, and their skills diverse. My advice to anyone considering a career in IT is to explore the vast array of roles available. Look for where your interests and abilities align best, and remember, coding is just one part of the IT universe.


Conclusion


In conclusion, the answer to whether you need to learn to code to work in IT is a resounding no. While coding is a valuable skill, the IT industry is rich with opportunities that cater to a wide range of skills and interests. My experience in the field has shown me that IT is a tapestry of roles, each contributing to the bigger picture in its unique way. So, if you're considering a career in IT, don't let the fear of coding hold you back. There's likely a place for you in this diverse and exciting industry.


You can learn more about becoming a Software Developer or taking other career path in IT in my book:



Other roles in the IT you may not have heard about are:

  • Operational Support

  • Applications Managers

  • Application Support and Monitoring

  • Network Operations and Security Operations

  • Information Security (infosec) Engineers and Managers

  • Hardware support and maitenance

  • DevOps, Systems and Infrasturucture support

  • SEO, marketing and social media managers

  • Ad Operations and AdTech

  • Sales and E-commerce

  • Hardware Engineering

  • Game design

  • and more...


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