By Lina Martinez

Investments are cool, but only when they return more than was put into them. If they return a lot more, they reach the realm of super cool. Super cool is always the goal.

A college degree is awesome as it furthers learning but a disturbing trend since 2008 is the amount of people with college, and even advanced, degrees that are not working in their field or are completely underpaid and underutilized. Being broke sucks and is a long way from super cool status.

There is one awesome trend that indicates some serious, super cool return on investment; the need for coders. If you don’t know what code is, this Bloomberg article, What is Code, will help. It is actually the most read article Bloomberg has ever done. Why? Consider this, by 2020 the need for new coders will be 1.4 million with only 400,000 expected to graduate college with a computer science degree.

The best thing that can happen to an employee or future employee is a shortage in their field. Bargaining power creates return on investment that is super cool! Right now that return for new coders can be $75,000 a year and up. Expect this only to get better as the labor pool continues to tighten.

The perks often relegated to Silicon Valley have started to appear in coding firms in other locals. Free beer in the breakroom, executive chefs, company-wide ski weekends and more, are meant to ensure you stay happy. It is highly doubtful that your call center job is giving you anything near those kinds of perks. Heck, you probably don’t even get free coffee in the breakroom.

It gets even better. The shortage has started to fuel the rise of intensive coding camps that last about three months. Unlike forprofit online universities, these camps actually produce quick results that pay. The need has become so great that the Obama administration has pushed for student loans to now be available for camp attendees. Some courses are boosting a 90% placement rate.

One of things about investments though is that they require some form of capital and risk in order to produce return. Coding camps are no different, as there is never such a thing as a free lunch.

The hours are long during coding camps. This isn’t going to be an 8-hour day. There is a lot to learn in a short period of time and you can expect to eat, breathe and drink coding until you’re done.

The industry is unregulated and therefore requires a cautious approach. Just as you wouldn’t hand cash over to the guy that shows up at the front door with a great investment idea, you should also be wary here as well. Research the camps that have worked and get feedback from prior students. Many universities and colleges are starting to partner with the coding camp providers which can signal a reputable firm.

The cost can be anywhere from $9,000 to $20,000. It’s not a small amount. Be sure that this is something you would be good at and might like. Some free and low cost courses are available online. At a minimum, try out a few free courses on It is a great resource to get an idea of what this all entails and see if it is a good fit.

Remember that geography plays a role in job availability. Be prepared to move to locations that have a true need for coders. Wages will vary by region, so checking the local market is critical. One benefit of coding is that as you develop a portfolio you might be able to go freelance and work remotely from anywhere.

The type of code can play a big role in certain markets. The most common language taught is Ruby which is used for front and back end web development. Javascript and IOS are used for app development and are also taught.

Overall, learning to code can end up being super cool. The return can be life changing for many that are currently stuck in service sector hell. It doesn’t hurt to take a few courses and see if it is a fit.

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Lina Martinez is a zenruption contributor. She is currently trying out coding for herself. We assume it is often done with a vodka tonic and some trance music.




Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license