13 Best Coding Jobs in 2023
Remember when you couldn’t use your (landline) phone while the computer connected to the internet, during which you underwent an eardrum assault of random sound frequencies? When The Oregon Trail (RIP, oxen) was the height of computer game technology? When you communicated your mood to the rest of the world through the song lyrics featured on your AIM away message? Like it or hate it, the technology Dark Ages are behind us. Now, we connect across multiple platforms in a fraction of a second. Alexa can order us pizza. There is such a thing as a “smart refrigerator.” Amazon has already started delivering packages via drone. Although technology’s impact on socialization, lifestyle, and productivity can sometimes feel alarmingly Bradbury-esque, it has also allowed for tremendous strides in healthcare, education, and security. As our world becomes ever-digitized, coding jobs are projected to rise exponentially. Let’s begin with the programming jobs outlook.
What is the outlook for coding jobs?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information technology-related jobs are expected to grow by 15% between 2021 and 2031, which will result in over 680,000 new jobs. In addition, the annual median salary across computer-related occupations is a healthy $97,430, nearly double the median across all occupations. As such, we included jobs that feature high median salaries as well as an above-average projected growth rate. Of course, growth rate and salary can be highly location dependent, so keep that in mind as you review careers.
What level of education will I need?
Although some programming jobs are attainable with a high school diploma and technical training, most positions featured require a bachelor’s degree with a background in computer science, mathematics, and/or engineering. Courses in business administration can also be helpful. In addition, many jobs require varying levels of programming language proficiency.
What factors should I consider when pursuing coding jobs?
If you’re reading this and thinking about how trying to learn Python was equivalent to that opening traffic scene in Office Space, fear not. There are plenty of jobs in the computing and information technology sector–such as network administration, systems analysis, and product management–that require no (or limited) coding skills to be successful. Likewise, there are a number of careers where coding knowledge is not required but will give you a competitive boost. These include programming jobs in UI/UX design, special effects animation, graphic design, digital forensics, and digital marketing, to name a few.
Best Coding Jobs
1) AI Engineer
From Frankenstein’s monster to Neo’s escape from the Matrix, artificial intelligence has long been a topic of interest within science fiction. However, most of us engage with AI daily without even realizing it. (Examples include marketing chatbots, your social media feed, and Siri, of course.) Artificial intelligence is defined as any system capable of human function. This includes problem-solving, decision-making, and speech recognition. AI engineers, then, are responsible for creating such systems. While job outlook data does not yet exist, careers in artificial intelligence are projected to grow exponentially in the coming years, with an average median salary of $170,265.
2) Computer Hardware Engineer
Computer hardware engineers design, develop, and implement computer hardware, which includes keyboards, modems, computer systems, and circuit boards, among others. Accordingly, most work in research laboratories. Prolific employers of computer hardware engineers include computer systems design and manufacturing companies as well as the government. Given that hardware engineers often work in teams with software developers, strong problem-solving and communication skills are a must. Projected job growth is 5% and the median salary is $128,000 per year.
Popular Programming Languages: C++, C, Python, Verilog
3) Computer Network Architect
Computer network architects are responsible for designing and building different types of communication networks. These networks range from local area networks (LAN) to complex cloud computing infrastructures. Although “the cloud” can feel like a mystical concept to anyone who was trained to back up everything on floppy disks or flash drives, it’s the way of the future. As such, cloud engineers are in particularly high demand across industries from education to real estate. Network architects must be detail-oriented, analytical, and organized. Additionally, they must be mindful of security and prepared to address potential network vulnerabilities. Across the board, network architecture jobs are expected to grow by 4% over the next ten years, and those employed in this sector can expect to earn a median salary of $120,520 per year.
Popular Programming Languages: C, Python
4) Computer Research Scientist
Ever thought to yourself, “Wow, computers seem to do new stuff every day?” Well, now you know whom to thank: computer research scientists. In addition to tackling complex issues within computing, they also invent new tools, languages, and systems that enhance the way we interact with computers. Computer research scientists can be found in many sectors, from robotics to business. A master’s degree is often required. Finally, this is a fast-growing career field with excellent salary data. The projected job growth is 21% between now and 2031, and the average median salary is $131,490.
5) Computer Science Teacher
All these new computing professionals need to be mentored by skilled members of the computer science field, right? If you love computer science and you love teaching it to others, a position as an instructor could be just the right fit. Whether you work in the public or private education sector, you’ll be responsible for teaching both fundamentals and advanced topics to students of different ages and abilities. That said, the available data exists for postsecondary instructors only, who take home $89,610 per year on average. Additionally, the field is expected to grow by 7% between now and 2031.
Popular Programming Languages: Whatever you’ll be teaching, but likely Python or Java for most introductory-level programming classes.
6) Cybersecurity Engineer
Remember all those advances in technology mentioned in the first paragraph? One major downside is a simultaneous increase in insidious and sophisticated cybercrime. As such, cybersecurity engineers are responsible for assessing a given system’s security and then designing and building solutions that address vulnerabilities. They defend systems against hacking, malware, and everyone trying to steal your credit card number to purchase an ungodly amount of large-screen televisions. Most newcomers to the field spend time working as entry-level cybersecurity analysts or specialists before moving up the ranks. Accordingly, the BLS predicts that related computer programming jobs will grow by 35% over the next ten years. Entry-level analysts earn a median annual salary of $102,600 per year while higher-level cybersecurity engineers make a median of $146,088.
7) Data Scientist
As one of the fastest-growing programming jobs on this list (expected to grow by a whopping 36% over the next ten years!), data scientists are in high demand. They work in industries from healthcare to business to retail. As a data scientist, you’ll collect large amounts of “raw” data, which you’ll then make sense of using algorithms and models. Finally, you’ll use your newfound insight to make predictions, recommendations, and strategies. Strong math, computing, and analytical skills are a must. Median earners take home approximately $100,910 per year while the top of the heap enjoys over $160,000.
Popular Programming Languages: Python, Java, SQL, R
8) Database Architect
After considering an organization’s needs and goals, database architects design, build, and maintain its databases. They also analyze and interpret data in order to help the organization grow and thrive. Accordingly, to excel in this industry, you must be detail-oriented, analytical, and able to work as part of a team. Database architects are needed not only in the tech sector but in healthcare, insurance, retail, and finance. Job outlook is strong; these coding jobs are expected to grow by 9% over the next ten years. Additionally, the average median salary is $101,000.
Popular Programming Languages: SQL, Python, Java, C, C++
9) DevOps Engineer
At many companies, “DevOps” started as a culture that evolved into a full-time position. DevOps engineers help streamline software development and operations by collaborating with multiple departments, ensuring that IT infrastructure is both optimized and efficient. (If you need a visual, they’re basically the intersection of a Venn diagram). Consequently, DevOps engineers can be found working at tech, finance, hospitality, and insurance companies, among others. DevOps is a sector of software development, which will enjoy a 25% job increase over the next ten years. Finally, the median salary for a DevOps engineer is $126,826.
10) Game Developer
Unlike the previously mentioned Oregon Trail computer game, whose most advanced feature was the funeral music that played whenever one of your party perished from dysentery, today’s video games are outstandingly realistic and responsive. Accordingly, skilled game developers are in increasingly high demand. They design and develop the game’s base platforms and engines, storyline, characters, script, and visuals, among others. Game development is expected to grow by 11% between now and 2031. Moreover, the median average salary is currently $79,890 per year.
11) Machine Learning Engineer
A subfield of artificial intelligence, machine learning rose to prominence in the 90s but recently exploded on the popularity charts. Think of machine learning as a mash-up of data science and software development, where engineers use insights gained from data to design artificial intelligence systems that produce automated predictive models. Examples include image recognition, medical diagnoses, and commute predictions. (Thank machine learning for redirecting you off the highway when there is construction up ahead.) Therefore, machine learning is utilized across a vast array of industries, including healthcare, finance, and agriculture. It is still new enough that job outlook and median salary data aren’t readily available. However, it ranks #4 on LinkedIn’s 2022 “Jobs on the Rise” list and brings home an average of $121,605 per year.
12) Software Developer
Software developers work in many industries–ranging from finance to manufacturing–and hold positions in application, infrastructure, and systems development. As a software developer, you design, build, and maintain different applications and systems according to a user’s needs. In addition to solid coding skills, you should also possess excellent problem-solving, communication, interpersonal, and critical-thinking skills. Software development is among the fastest-growing programming jobs profiled here, with available positions projected to increase by 25% over the next ten years. Finally, pay is also strong–the median annual wage currently registers at $109,020.
13) Web Developer
In essence, web developers create and maintain websites, but there are many types of roles in this category. For example, one could work as a front-end developer (responsible for user-facing components), back-end developer (responsible for server-side functions), or full-stack developer (responsible for front-end and back-end operations), among other roles. Moreover, web developers can work in industries ranging from computer systems design to publishing. Anyone who works in web development should have the ability to stay up-to-date with changing technology as well as top-notch design skills. Although salaries vary depending on job function, the average median salary is $77,030. In addition, the job outlook is strong, with web development positions expected to grow 23% by 2031.
Final Thoughts – Best Coding Jobs
No matter your final destination, a degree in computer science with expertise in at least one programming language will open too many doors to count. Most importantly, many hard skills needed for coding jobs are transferable across different roles and industries, enabling you to remain flexible and adaptable in our ever-changing tech landscape.
Kelsea holds a BA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Tufts University, a graduate certificate in College Counseling from UCLA, and is currently pursuing graduate work in writing instruction at Johns Hopkins University.