Even though information technology is still a relatively new career field, it’s already fallen prey to myths, including the idea that all information technology (IT) jobs require extensive coding skills.
Bill Dafnis, PhD, PMP, associate dean of technology at Capella University, explores this myth.
Q. Is it true that all IT jobs require coding?
A. All IT jobs require some basic understanding of coding, but not all IT jobs require coding. The use of code lies beneath so much of what we do in daily life. Much like running water, we often take this basic need for granted. On a daily basis business people create and use spreadsheets, presentations, emails, engage in e-commerce and use GPS for driving directions—all enabled by programmers using code.
Coding is an important part of IT, yet we have a myriad of technology jobs that can be customer-facing, back-room, or somewhere in the middle. Some non-coding IT jobs may include:
- Business analysts
- Cloud computing architects
- Data scientists
- IT project/program managers
- Systems administrator
- Quality assurance managers
- Software Testing
- Security/cybersecurity professionals
- User experience and user interface (UX/UI) designers
Q. There is a myth that strictly engineer-focused individuals can be IT professionals—is this true?
A. We certainly have a funny way of creating urban legends. There’s a myth that coders are heads-down geeks with soft-skills limitations. Although many may fit this mold, programmers can also be creative types who develop the design and functions of technology, or manage the teams who do.
These days, we are seeing many liberal arts graduates who are making inroads into IT—a discipline previously considered to be purely engineering-focused.
Q. Don’t IT professionals need to develop code in order to create new technologies?
A. They do not yet we are finding even more of it in K-12 education. The field at its best is a partnership between the technical work (coding) and the business problems IT professionals are interested in solving. We know that technology is built with code, but the ingenuity comes from joining creative IT and business professionals to communicate their shared vision with coders and stakeholders.
Let me give you two examples of how creativity coupled with coding has evolved the growth of two industries: retail and transportation. During each Christmas season, Amazon changes prices on 80 million products per day. On the other hand, Uber has the ability to use surge pricing to charge more based on real-time demand. Such innovation requires coding that unlocked the idea that the largest global retailer wouldn’t have a physical store, or the largest taxi company wouldn’t own one vehicles.
Q. If not coding, what skills do these jobs require?
A. Information technology needs able interpreters of technical language to ensure business leaders are enabled to innovate and create technology-enabled solutions for their stakeholders. This requires excellent communications skills, as well as great teamwork, leadership, flexibility, and creativity.
Q. Do people still need to study coding if they’re going into these IT jobs?
A. I would say, “yes,” as it will make them well-rounded IT professionals. Whichever programming language one studies, the most important thing is to build basic knowledge of programming constructs and common nomenclature in order to thrive in the IT professional environment.
Although some IT professionals may not code for a living, they will interact with business leaders, consultants, and organizational stakeholders and become a bridge connecting IT to the enterprise.
Interested in getting into IT? Learn more about Capella’s information technology degree programs.