Does Data Science Require Coding? The Facts Explained

Data science is one of the fastest-growing and most consistent fields of the 21st century. But if you want to have a career in the field of data science, do you need to know coding?

Yes, data science typically requires coding for tasks like data manipulation and analysis. Coding skills are essential for working with large datasets and building machine learning models in data science.

Some jobs require less coding experience than others, but you should know some if you plan to work in the field. There are many programs available that can teach you how to code and how to design algorithms.

In this article, I’ll explain more about the necessity of coding in data science. There’s a lot to unpack on this topic, including how coding is used and why it’s so important to the advancement and continuation of the field, and I’ve provided a full breakdown of these things. If needed, I’ve also left a list of resources where you can learn to code.

What Is Data Science?

Data science is the study of data and the collection of information through algorithms. This is useful in many fields and can be applied across every science. It’s one of the fastest-growing job markets of this century and has consistently high incomes.

Even the most basic STEM fields use data science every day in their work. They have to take data from experiments and formulas and study them to record their findings. Data science does that on a different scale. 

They study mountains of data and decipher them to determine correlations between algorithmic stimuli. They can determine if people of specific demographics are more interested in choosing different products or predicting if people undergoing certain events are more likely to search for particular things.

This kind of information is precious to many companies who rely on algorithms, such as content creators who try to drive views, websites trying to track the most effective ad content, and anyone else who might need to know specific demographic data. 

As this might imply, companies are willing to pay the big bucks to hire people who can compile this knowledge instead of contracting out the same work. The median starting income for data scientists is $95,000, and after a few years in the field, it’s not unheard of to make well over six figures. 

How Coding Is Used in Data Science

Knowing how to code means you can edit the programs to reflect new changes. You can fix any glitches that come up without having to get someone else involved. You can also make custom algorithms for the data you want to study.

The algorithms data scientists design to collect data about site clicks, industry and customer data, ads people view, and more. They’re often custom to the site or application and the company uses and the data scientists can manipulate their size, shape, and colors to check on different results. 

This level of customization means that the data scientists have designed them from the ground up. They’re unique, and many companies guard their algorithms’ code like prized jewels. These industry secrets can make or break a business.

To make these custom programs, you need to understand the primary coding language (most popular is Python) and grasp computer programming. It is a necessary component of doing data science work.

Knowing how to code will also allow you to read the data you are putting together. You need to know how to sift through the program and understand the product you are working on. You can also provide line edits for co-workers or look over sample code you might want to add to your work.

You have to have the skills to code these algorithms, perform maintenance, or change the parameters for what you are studying. You need to learn how to code if you want a career in this industry.

In this day and age, it’s much easier to learn, and you don’t even have to go to college to learn how to get better at it. You can also learn in the comfort of your own home, on your phone, or on the road!

The job responsibilities of a data scientist are varied and vast. Coding is only one part of the job and there’s a lot more work to be done.

It can be hard to nail down what you’re supposed to do with your job. There are some common responsibilities like coding, data analysis, and data collection.

Data Analysis

The analysis of data is the core component of the job. This is a long and tedious process that requires sorting through all the data collected and presenting it in a readable and understandable format.

Additionally, data scientists may spend time researching, preparing reports, and working with larger teams to create more complex algorithms that can finetune the answers to many questions. It all comes back to the data that has been collected.

Data Collection

Most of this data is gathered through algorithms or surveys that people willingly fill out and submit answers to. They’re complicated programs geared towards certain people and can evolve and change based on data put into them.

Monitoring the algorithms, making repairs and closing gaps in the code are all a part of data collection and data science. Without these programs, you don’t have a leg to stand on.

Knowing the main job skills and responsibilities will help you make a decision if data science is the career for you.

Where To Learn Coding

There are all kinds of unique and fun programs you can use to learn how to code. Some are focused on women, others are meant for kids and are designed to be easy, and others are best for experienced coders who need a review. 

Most of these programs cost money, but many have payment programs or offer payment clearance programs that allow users to participate for free. Some are online courses, but other ones are intensive programs that couple courses with internships. 

There are all kinds of options for this process, but let’s outline a few of the best out there.

Coding for Beginners

There’s a large field of programs designed to encourage people to take their first steps in learning how to code. Many are designed for kids, or high schoolers looking to pursue a career in the tech industry and need these skills.

Here are programs for learning how to code and here is a list of many under Candidate Resources:

  • Code Academy offers one of the widest varieties and is one of the most popular sites to learn coding from for a reason. One of the best perks is that it’s also a free program that anyone can pick up when they have time.
  • Code Avengers is a program designed for kids under the age of fifteen, but they have options for older kids. They also have options for teachers who want to introduce their students to coding and learning. Code Avengers is based out of New Zealand, so some of the content may differ for American audiences. All in all, it’s a solid choice.
  • Khan Academy is geared towards students. This site offers tutoring and guides for basically every subject you can think of, including coding. This non-profit is committed to making sure that anyone can receive a solid education.
  • freeCodeCamp is a free option you can use that also supports a good cause. This program offers many different coding styles and is free to use. Many professionals are on this site and can help you out with troubleshooting if you need any help along the way.
  • edX is another open-source option that Harvard and MIT founded in 2012. This program is a powerful learning platform, and they offer many free coding courses that come from a large number of colleges and universities. These are different from other programs because they were designed by professors who teach these skills for a living.
  • Treehouse is a great option if you’re looking for a program to learn at home. It’s designed for people who want to teach and pace their learning themselves. It’s free for the first week and then costs $25 a month, but it’s an excellent option for people learning to code in their spare time.

Treehouse and edX are great options for intermediate programmers because they offer higher-level courses that you can pick and choose from. On Treehouse, you can even test out of the beginner courses if you have the skills they’ll go over in the first classes. 

Coding for Advanced Programmers

If you’re an advanced coder, it may seem like there aren’t any places for you to continue to improve your skills and test out new tools that you want to work within your career. It may also seem like there isn’t a place for you to network and ask questions with people who could help you.

Have no fear! There are all kinds of options for even the highest level programmers, these are:

  • GitHub Thisis an excellent place for advanced programmers to collaborate and network together. You can also submit code to be reviewed so that others in the field can catch any mistakes you may have missed or offer advice. 
  • Web Fundamentals by Google This is another good option from Google. In 2010, these programs were released to allow programmers to mess around and test programming they wanted to use on their websites. It’s a great tool to get real-world practical experience with.

These are more advanced than the others on this list because they require at least some coding knowledge to operate, so make sure you grasp the basics before you dive in. 

As mentioned above, edX is also an excellent option for the advanced programmer who wants to brush up or pick up new skills for their toolkit. They offer classes up to the Master’s degree level, and some university programs offer even higher coursework to the Ph.D. level. 

Students should note that edX’s programs aren’t the same as getting those degrees, but they can help you advance your skills without going back to school.

If you’re looking for communities that can help with coding problems and connect programmers, there are many social media options as well as places where you can practice your skills and participate in coding challenges.

Social Media Communities

There are so many options for finding help and support through social media nowadays. Discord, Twitter, and Reddit all have many different choices for people who want a more personal connection to the people they want to meet with. 

While Discord has become linked with many video game communities, programmers have also made it their home, and it’s one of the modern chat forums out there. It has many options for communication, including voice-only calls and multiple channels so that conversations can happen concurrently. These are:

  • The Programmer’s Hideout is a server meant for people of all ages and experience levels who want to communicate and build a community. They also offer code checking and discuss some of the newest developments in the tech world.
  • Code Monkeys is a server you should check out if you’re looking for advice on programs specifically. This one is designed for people to send chunks of code and ask for advice. You can also contribute to the larger community there and support others who are taking their first steps.

Both of these are large communities with international members and people from all kinds of backgrounds. Chances are, there’s going to be someone online at all times who can help you with your problems or give you advice.

You could also check out Twitter and Reddit for programming help. However, these communities tend to be wild, so make sure you practice proper Internet safety and don’t share more personal information than you need to.

Final Thoughts

If you want to pursue a career in data science, then you are required to have a background with some coding knowledge, at least. And if you haven’t yet learned how to code, there are many programs designed for everyone at any experience level that can get you to where you need to be. You can even connect with professionals personally through social media and start building your network of contacts.