Over Half of US Students See Coding Skills as Vital as Foreign Language Skills for Future Career Prospects

  • 91% of US students believe data analytics will be important for their future career
  • Over 45% of US students can currently code or are learning a coding language
  • Over half of students plan on learning a computer programming language at some point
  • 35% of students that cannot currently code say that lack of educational access is the primary barrier holding them back from learning

NEW YORK--()--As digital technologies continue to disrupt and transform every industry on the planet, over half of US students (58%) believe that coding skills are either equally or more valuable than foreign language skills for their career prospects.

Research commissioned by KX, a leading global software company for real-time analytics and data management, shows that among students aged 16-23, over 45% of US students can currently code or are learning at least one coding language. 35% already believe that being able to code is a core life skill.

When looking more broadly at the importance of data handling and analytical skills, 42% of US students have either taken or are planning to take a course in data analytics or data science, while 30% say the same for computational intelligence.

Despite the growing importance and rising popularity of coding, 35% of US students that cannot currently code say that the primary barrier holding them back from learning is that coding is not taught at their school, highlighting the need for a greater focus on digital skills within the education system. According to the Coursera Global Skills Report 2021, the US currently ranks 35th out of 100 in data science and 30th in technology skills.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report estimates that 97 million new digital jobs will be created globally by 2025. According to a recent update to the IDC Worldwide Digital Transformation Spending Guide, global spending on the digital transformation of business practices, products and organizations is projected to reach $2.8 trillion in 2025, with roughly one-third of all digital transformation spending occurring in the US.

“It’s encouraging that US students see coding and data analytics skills as being important to their future career success,” said Kathy Schneider, Chief Marketing Officer, KX. “With the continuing digitization of almost all industries, these skills will be fundamental to the growth and development of both individuals and economies. However, the education system seems to be playing catch-up when it comes to aligning learning and curriculums with the demands of modern work. There is a role here for companies to partner with educational institutions as well as invest in training to help new recruits get the skills they need to succeed.”

KX’s survey results support the findings of a recent study by Glassdoor which showed that Java Developers, Data Scientists and DevOps Engineers are some of the top jobs in the US based on employee job satisfaction, median annual base salary and the number of current job openings in the given role.

“The ability to understand and apply data through code is not only an important life skill, it’s also critical for future economies,” said Daniel Baker, Head of Evangelism, KX. “Regardless of the language, coding offers many tangible benefits and builds transferable skills that develop a problem-solving mindset. We have a responsibility to build a sufficient pipeline in schools and universities, challenging governments and education bodies to modernize curriculums and ensure career guidance aligns with industry needs. Employers also need to adapt and build a culture of continuous learning.”

When asked how learning a coding language compares to a foreign language in terms of boosting career prospects, 39% say that speaking a foreign language and having computer programming skills are equally valuable to their careers, 30% say that foreign languages are more important and 18% say coding. Only 6% believe neither to be important.

The main drivers for learning to code in the US are that it allows for better job opportunities (74%) and higher salaries (66%). Conversely, students pursuing foreign languages are doing so to increase confidence when traveling (70%) and to learn about other cultures (69%).

Despite the common belief that there is a low percentage of the US population who can speak a second language, 59% of students say that they already speak one or more languages and more than two-thirds (69%) say that they are planning to learn one–whether for the first time or to add another language to their CV.

Research methodology

2,000 students in further education aged 16-23 were surveyed in January 2022. 1,000 in the US and 1,000 in the UK.

About KX

KX, the leading technology for real-time data analytics and decision intelligence, is part of FD Technologies plc (FDP.L), a group of data-driven businesses that unlock the value of insight, hindsight and foresight to drive organizations forward. KX Streaming Analytics, built on the kdb+ time-series database, is an industry-leading high-performance, in-memory computing, streaming analytics and operational intelligence platform. It delivers the best possible performance and flexibility for high-volume, data-intensive analytics and applications across multiple industries.

The Group operates from 15 offices across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific, and employs more than 3,000 people worldwide. For more information visit www.kx.com.


Brent Bucci


Brent Bucci