Half of the high-paying jobs in America now require this skill

If terms like SQL, Python and JavaScript aren’t on your radar, employers may not be interested in hiring you.

Roughly half of the jobs in the top income quartile — defined as those paying $57,000 or more per year — are in occupations that commonly require applicants to have at least some computer coding knowledge or skill, according to an analysis of 26 million U.S. online job postings released this month by job market analytics firm Burning Glass and Oracle Academy, the philanthropic arm of Oracle focused on computer science education, in Redwood City, Calif. In simple terms, coders write the instructions that tell computers what to do; in-demand programming languages include SQL, Java, JavaScript, C# and Python.

This high number is thanks, in part, to the fact that it’s not just technology jobs that now require at least some coding knowledge, says Alison Derbenwick Miller, the vice president of Oracle Academy. “Computing has become a tool in every industry,” which means that coding knowledge is now needed for workers across fields, she says. Indeed, everyone from business people who work with data to designers and marketers who create websites to scientists who conduct research now need at least some coding knowledge.


Employers and employees — even those who aren’t in the technology field — say the same. Jake Lane, a growth analyst at lawn care company LawnStarter, says that “having some knowledge of coding is essential for job seekers these days,” as it can help them understand the tasks of — and work more effectively with — other departments, including their tech and engineering teams.

Angela Copeland, who majored in computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY but subsequently moved to a marketing career, agrees: “Although I transitioned away from computer programming and into marketing, having a coding background has really helped me. First, when I’ve worked on website projects, it’s easier for me to communicate directly with developers. In the end, this causes my projects to get done faster and more accurately.”

And Alex Barshai, a marketing specialist for metal recovery firm ElectroMetals, which has eight offices worldwide including in Dubai, Mumbai and St. Louis, says that while his company does not require potential employees to have outstanding coding skills, an understanding of how programming languages work provides a job seeker with clear advantage over the others thanks to the analytical skills you develop when you learn to code. (Apple AAPL, +0.41%   co-founder Steve Jobs — who once said, “Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer, should learn a computer language, because it teaches you how to think” — might have agreed.)

Other reasons that coding skills are so in demand: They can help workers “automate trivial tasks” and “hack their way to solutions others consider impossible,” says Mike Grassotti, the chief technology officer at small business loans company LiftForwardbased in New York.