The 5 Best Entry-Level Coding Jobs to Start Your Career – ZDNet

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Launch a coding career without years of experience with these entry-level coding jobs.
Heather Mullinix
As the digital transformation of work continues, many companies find they need more tech workers. A recent Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) report found that European companies posted nearly 900,000 ads for new tech jobs in the first quarter of 2021. LinkedIn listed tech coding careers in artificial intelligence, data science, and digital marketing among its 15 most in-demand jobs for 2021.
A coding career path represents some of the fastest-growing fields in the United States. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects more than 189,000 new jobs for software developers between 2020 and 2030, with median salaries of $110,140. Other types of coding jobs projected to grow in the next few years include web development, software engineering, and market research analysis.
For many tech workers, the biggest hurdle to launching their careers is landing their first job. Despite degrees, portfolios, or credentials, many new tech workers struggle with job postings requiring years of experience or offering a lower salary than senior positions. Many companies, however, offer multiple types of coding jobs that require little experience while still offering a competitive salary.
This coding career includes the development of the user-facing and back-end programming of web applications and software. Junior developers often work under the direction of a project manager or senior web developer as part of a team, collaborating to solve coding problems or address end-user needs. Many junior web developers hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, but companies often consider candidates with experience gained through coding bootcamps or other training. Web developers should know Java, Python, CSS, and HTML.
Data analysts gather information from various sources and then translate that data into charts or reports that inform business leaders as they make decisions. For this coding career, individuals need skills in statistics, math, and computer programming, especially Python and SQL. They also need to know how to design effective graphics or other data visualization materials. Many data analysts study computer science or math in college or pursue a coding bootcamp to learn to use data analyst programs and tools.
Creative individuals who understand digital products and services can excel in this coding career. This position often works within a digital marketing department, helping develop a strategy for content marketing, digital advertising, and social media engagement. Top skills for a digital strategist include interpersonal communication, understanding of digital marketing technology like search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), and the ability to interpret analytics and data.
Web designers work with clients to design websites that customers or other users can easily navigate. In this coding career, designers need both creative and technical skills to ensure websites work as intended. In addition to understanding multiple programming languages, such as JavaScript, CSS, and Ruby, web designers also need to work with graphic design programs. Many companies welcome candidates with an associate degree in computer programming, graduation from coding bootcamps, or a portfolio of work that demonstrates their skills.
A digital analyst uses data to design SEM and paid media campaigns. They then measure results to determine the return on marketing investment. These analysts carefully study data related to consumer behavior and demographics to help inform the digital marketing strategy. They use data from GoogleAnalytics and WebTrends. Job seekers need a degree in a relevant field such as marketing, or demonstrated skills in digital analytics gained through coding bootcamps or professional certification.
Most entry-level jobs pay less than the median salary reported by the BLS. However, many coding jobs offer starting pay above the $41,950 median salary for all workers reported in May 2020. Full-time coding careers also provide benefits like health insurance, retirement, and paid time off. Many companies also welcome remote workers and have instituted flexible work policies, allowing for better work-life balance.
Several factors, including your experience and education, impact your earning potential. Pay for similar positions may vary by location. The salaries below represent the average salary for entry-level workers with less than one year of experience in their field.
Junior web developer: $51,693
Data analyst: $56,410
Digital strategist: $44,350
Junior web designer: $43,700
Digital analyst: $52,150 
Coding careers will continue to grow, and companies will continue to struggle to recruit talented programmers. Many companies have launched programs to help retain their tech workforce and help them progress in their careers through structured training programs, annual training budgets, or stipends for ongoing learning.
A coding career requires learning new skills and staying on the cutting edge of technological changes. As you build your skills and expand your portfolio, you can expect to see increases in your pay and your responsibilities. Your entry-level job can launch your coding career path with higher-paying opportunities. The salaries below, reported by PayScale, represent the average salary for each field after five to nine years.
You may not have work experience in coding, but your training can help you meet experience requirements. If you have taken on volunteer coding projects, be sure to include those on your resume. You likely created a coding portfolio as part of your education, especially if you attended a coding bootcamp. Your portfolio helps employers see what you can do.
Yes, careers in coding continue to go unfilled as companies struggle to find applicants with the skills they need. The BLS projects a 22% increase in employment of software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers from 2020 to 2030 –– with an estimated 189,200 new jobs during that time. Coding bootcamps or computer science degrees can help you launch your software engineering career path.
You can find many online resources to introduce you to computer coding. Several online learning platforms offer introductory courses that cover the basics of computer programming, web design, or data science. You can also check out coding bootcamps. These intensive programs can prepare you for a coding career in as little as three months. Many also provide career search assistance to help you find your first coding career.
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