Code is the official noun and verb of 2016, or at least it should be.
Aside from learning computer programming for the popular economic reasons -- a shortage of qualified workers, the projected growth of the industry, and an $80k+ average salary -- the "Technology Industry" is about to become simply "Industry."
There are increasingly few job titles that cannot benefit from some knowledge of code, and as this century progresses, more job descriptions will begin listing programming under "required skills" instead of "desired skills". This is because programming allows us to complete more tasks, faster, which makes companies money and increases their competitiveness.
Software has become an integral part of almost every industry, and there is no going back. We recline with our tablets and work with our laptops. We have smart TVs and watches, and everything that can, will eventually be automated. Self driving cars might be less than a decade away from mass production, and soon we will have drones deliver last-minute birthday gifts from Amazon in 30 minutes or less. What we are experiencing today is a change akin to that of the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago: life is about to become much easier, but with change comes needed adaption.
If you want to take full advantage of technology in your life, you need to know a little more about how that technology works. It is important to remember that your devices are more than just another way to stream Netflix, their the most powerful cognitive tools humanity has ever created. The more you know about how to manipulate and utilize your tools, the more uses you can find for them. The best part about coding is that it presents unlimited opportunities to find new ways to use and benefit from your tech. These uses can be applied to improve your work, or (even better) your personal life.
Will I Lose My Job to a Computer?
Maybe, but it is more likely that you will be working alongside a computer, and will need some way to talk with your new coworker (i.e. code).
Automation has already replaced many manufacturing jobs -- machines can build cars and pull boxes from warehouse shelves almost completely on their own -- but advances in robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and user experience (UX) will allow technology to enter new, unexpected fields. This may be part of the reason job growth rate has lagged behind the overall economy since 1990.
The jobs safest from the tech revolution are the ones that require complex creative and analytical thinking -- a human touch. But even these jobs will increasingly be altered because of technology. Financial analysis and medical diagnosis are two fields that is seeing AI implemented and used in novel ways. Discovering patterns and drawing conclusions from data happens to be something computers are very good at (think Google algorithms). However, these automated programs will need to be written by humans who know the core industry principles, and can judge the outputted information accordingly. This is where code comes in.
Why Should I Learn to Code?
Programmers have a common refrain - knowing how to code feels like a "super power" -- the power to create anything their mind can imagine. Think of the cutting-edge technologies that influence everyday life: email, streaming music, 3D printing, driverless cars, commercial space travel (hopefully), and countless more. Everything requires computers, and computers require code. Think of the repetitive tasks you have to complete in life and in work. If it involves a computer, it can likely be automated, or at least made more efficient, through code. Programming is the must-have skill for 2016 and beyond, regardless of whether you want to become a developer or be at the top of the pack in any professional field.
There are many great free coding classes that help beginners get started on code. It is by no means easy, but if you are keeping an eye on the future of your career, it is time to add "Learn to code" to the top of your New Year's Resolution list!