Today’s high school students are exposed to different kinds of technology in their daily lives. They use their phones to play games and keep up with friends, and they complete their homework on laptops, desktops, or tablets. One thing all of these devices have in common is that coding tells them what to do. It makes sense that many high schoolers would be curious to learn more about how coding works.
Here, you’ll learn about several different coding languages you may want to learn. We’ll also discuss exciting careers that will be available to you once you’ve completed your education.
Coding Languages: What to Learn and Why
There is a multitude of different programming languages out there, and each one is used in specific areas. To choose which one you want to learn first (many programmers learn more than one language), it can be helpful to understand what some of the most popular languages are used for.
Initially developed in 1995, Java continues to be one of the most popular languages for computer programming worldwide. It runs on tens of billions of devices and is a favorite language amongst programmers because it can be run on almost any operating system. While Java can be challenging to learn at first, it is a worthwhile skill to learn because it is used in so many disciplines. Web developers, game developers, and software engineers all use Java as part of their daily lives.
Java is also the language taught in the Advanced Placement Computer Science course, so learning this language as a teen can prepare you for that class and prepare you for college-level programming! Moreover, scoring highly on the corresponding accredited exam can lead to several internships and scholarship opportunities; some are sponsored by renowned companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon.
Used by major companies like NASA and Google, Python is generally considered to be one of the more accessible programming languages to learn. The syntax is clear and most similar to English, and the uses of Python are highly versatile. Python is the ideal choice for many programmers for web development because it enables the user to automate everyday tasks, which allows additional time for more complex tasks and, therefore, speeds up your workflow.
Python is also the favorite language of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Engineers. The simplicity of the language allows AI developers to create stable systems and spend more time focusing on creative problem-solving rather than troubleshooting the bugs that another language might have. Python’s extensive amount of libraries and frameworks is another factor that leads to its popularity. In essence, these are pre-written bits of code that programmers develop in collaboration with each other. They make common tasks take less time without sacrificing quality or accuracy.
HTML & CSS
If you consider yourself more of a creative person, these two languages might be a great place to start learning to code since they are most commonly used by web designers. These professionals use Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) to design the content of a web page, and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) ensures the content is laid out in an appealing manner. Over time, these languages have been modified to accommodate the millions of people who strictly use smartphones to access the web. Learning HTML and CSS lends itself to designing products that can function across multiple browsers and platforms.
Like Python, these languages take little time to learn. This means that you can quickly start putting your new skills to use once you’ve spent some time practicing. These days, it’s not uncommon for high schoolers to design their own websites to store samples of their designs when the time comes to apply for college or join the workforce. Industrious students will also sometimes use this skill as a means of earning extra money by designing simple web pages for local businesses.
Why Should High School Students Learn to Code?
Before diving into which coding languages a high school student should learn, it’s essential to understand why this skill is advantageous. First and foremost, coding is a highly in-demand skill that can prepare you for many high-paying careers. From software and web development to artificial intelligence, computer programming is only going to become more prevalent in the years to come. Learning one or more of these languages will help you stand out to college recruiters and prospective employers.
But even if you aren’t sure whether you want to pursue a career in computer programming, learning to code at a young age is beneficial for multiple reasons. Coding helps develop critical soft skills transferable to virtually any career path you choose. Programming is a unique discipline because failure is quite common; many developers will spend a lot of time fixing bugs and rewriting code until their design is correctly executed. While consistently making errors might not sound like a good thing, it helps children learn perseverance and increases their frustration tolerance. Being able to follow through on your promises even when they are difficult or take extra time is a trait that any employer would find valuable in a potential hire.
Despite the misconception that computer programmers tend to work alone, coding can help build communication skills. In fact, many of the classes that teach programming to high school students are designed to be highly interactive, which also helps to learn these crucial skills. Programmers usually work within a larger team where the members work towards a common goal. If a client wants part of a design changed, they need to work with the programmer to ensure the end goal is executed to the proper specifications. Studies also show that programming stimulates the part of the brain where logical reasoning occurs, meaning that this strength could be applied in areas outside of coding.
Future Careers in Coding
As more businesses expand their digital reach to interact with customers, careers in coding will continue to grow in demand. There is a wide range of careers that require skills in coding; for some careers, you just need to know one language, but for others, you’ll need to learn multiple to qualify. Below, you’ll find several examples of careers you can pursue; most of them command an average annual salary between $60,000 and $100,000!
If you’d like to use your coding skills to engage in a more creative endeavor, you can look into working as a Front End Web Developer. In this job, you’ll be in charge of designing the aspects of a web page that users can see and interact with. Mobile Developers also use Java and other languages to design apps for both iOS and Android devices. While not all applications are creative in nature, many of them can be used for entertainment purposes. Both of these careers are excellent blends of programming and imagination.
Coding can lead to several careers focusing on data and complex problem-solving for those with more analytical or mathematical minds. Software Engineers generally know multiple programming languages and spend a lot of time in higher education. They use their extensive knowledge and training to design products specific to their industry. For instance, an engineer in finance might be tasked with creating a more efficient computer system for a bank or loan company. Machine Learning Engineers use both Python and Java to help computers learn without frequent human intervention. In addition to being skilled in multiple coding languages, they also possess a deep understanding of statistics, data science, and artificial intelligence.
Learn Coding Languages with NextGen Bootcamps
If you’re ready to dive in and learn to code, taking a coding class with NextGen Bootcamps is a great place to start! They offer both in-person classes at their Manhattan location and live online classes that can be attended from anywhere in the world. NextGen classes, designed for beginners, are taught by experienced instructors who value allowing each student to succeed. Students at NextGen can also retake their classes for free within one year of the original course. Many of these programs help students create a portfolio of their work that can later be shared on college applications, internship applications, and job interviews.
If you’d like to explore coding with a creative twist, the Web Design Summer Program is worth looking into. This class teaches students how to design entire web pages using HTML and CSS. The curriculum also covers the utilization of Sketch to design appealing page layouts and ensure your website is optimized for top performance.
NextGen also has a Java Programming Summer Program available for high school students. This class is ideal for students who want to take AP Computer Science during the school year. Here, students are exposed to fundamental Java skills before moving on to more advanced topics like recursion and object-oriented programming. By the end of the course, students will be able to create an original product entirely with Java.
For students interested in pursuing a career in data science, NextGen also offers a Python Data Science Summer Program. Here, students learn Python programming skills, emphasizing hands-on projects to learn more about data science. They use tools like Sci-Kit and Pandas to analyze and visualize complex data sets. If you’d like to learn both Java and Python, both programs are combined in a Computer Science Summer Certificate Program.