The Single Most Important Job Skill You Can Learn (It'll Be Relevant Forever)

What will software engineers do when everybody can program? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Ken Mazaika, CTO and Co-founder of The Firehose Project, on Quora:

What will software engineers do when everybody can program?

First off, who says there will be a time when everybody can program?

But even if they could, there are 11 reasons that software engineering will be relevant forever. Personally, I believe that reason 8 by itself is enough to keep software relevant forever.

There’s never going to be a time when everyone can program.There’s a heck of a lot of people who have zero interest in ever being a developer. And that’s a good thing too. Some people genuinely don’t enjoy programming. People who don’t should spend their lives doing something else. But for the people that do, it will always be relevant to be a software engineer, and here are 11 specific reasons software engineering will never die:

Reason 1. Technology will continue to evolve.The phone in your pocket processes billions (think 3.36 billion) more instructions per second than the Apollo Guidance computer that first took us to the moon!

Reason 2. Programming tools will be intuitive and powerful.With a new JavaScript framework that comes out seemingly every week, you better believe the development tools we use are becoming more powerful too.

Reason 3. Programming tools will be appropriated for all industries. Software is eating the world and it’s in a lot of places you probably wouldn’t even expect.

Reason 4. The job market will continue to adapt.But even if you’re a COBOL programmer, you can probably find a job because you realize that software systems can sometimes take a while to adapt.

Reason 5. Careers will require a basic level of coding literacy.Programming skills are relevant even if you’re not programming. Things like SQL, HTML/CSS, JavaScript frameworks can be relevant to know for marketers, designers, salespeople, and lots of other professions too.

Reason 6. Careers for experienced software engineers will always exist to solve complex problems.The best software in the world is made by teams, and teams will always need to have leadership.

Reason 7. Machine learning will never make programmers irrelevant.Some of the industries best implementations of AI and machine learning are done by Google. And by the way, they employ 30,000+ developers.

Reason 8. Culture is shifting and computers are becoming relevant in all aspects of our life.5 years ago you would never have thought about pulling out your phone to hail a cab. Today, you’ll probably be comparing the wait time for Lyft and Uber.

Reason 9. Software Engineering is about a lot more than just writing code.Understanding problems and understanding processes are more important than the syntax of a programming language that happens to be used today.

Reason 10. There are still problems that computers can’t solve efficiently.Unless you have a solution to the traveling salesperson problem, there’s still progress to be made in the realm of computing.

Reason 11. Even some of the older software development projects will be around forever. I’ve already printed out the ImageMagick documentation to give to my future grandchildren.

Software engineers are always going to be relevant. There are a few important lessons you can take if you’re learning to code:

  • Programming will always be a specialized skill.
  • Software is eating the world.
  • The world is still adapting to computers.

There has never been a better time to be a programmer,and I’m thankful every day that I live in the golden age of computing.

If you’re looking to get started learning to code, don’t be discouraged by the naysayers.

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