Which ACA track is right for you?

which-aca-track-is-right-for-you

If you’re considering making the leap into a career in coding, there are so many factors to consider: should I get a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or enroll in a coding school? Should I take an online class, an in-person class, or a remote class? And what language or specialty should I invest my time in learning?

At Austin Coding Academy, we offer three tracks for our students: JavaScript, C#, and UX/Freelance. We believe that there isn’t one “best” option; the right choice for each student has everything to do with their personal goals and interests.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at each track, including general salary ranges, career outlooks, online communities, and job titles.

Caution: Don’t only consider salary and hiring outlook

It’s tempting to lean heavily on salary data when choosing a coding language or specialty. But since your career takes up most of your waking hours, it’s important to consider which one will be most personally fulfilling and interesting to you.

When looking at salary data on websites like Glassdoor and Payscale, you may notice a huge range of possible salaries. This is because, even with the same job title, there can be a lot of variation in job responsibilities and seniority. The best way to increase your salary potential is to be a key player on whatever team you end up on.

That’s why it’s so important to choose a track you’re passionate about; your interest in your work will give you the motivation to go above and beyond what’s asked and expected of you.

Track comparisons

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the three tracks offered at ACA, starting with JavaScript:


JavaScript

JavaScript (JS) is one of the most common coding languages, with about a third of software development jobs requiring some JavaScript knowledge. It’s also a relatively easy language to learn and has one of the largest communities to reach out to. The main purpose of JavaScript is to manipulate objects; any time something moves on a website, JavaScript is probably involved.

JavaScript is a giant in the internet browser world. It works across all the most popular web browsers and phone apps because it uses variables to adapt its code to the platform. Coders use JS in applications like Safari, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, and IOS/Android app platforms.

While it’s mostly an advantage, the cross-platform adaptability of JS can sometimes lead to compatibility issues. Because JavaScript is error-prone, proficient developers will have an easy time finding a job. Companies will even pay freelancers to double-check their JavaScript code through bug bounty programs.


Salary

Range: $51k - $120k

Average: $75k - $100k

Starting Average: $60k - $70k

 

Job outlook

The job outlook for Javascript is strong. By 2020, there will be over one million unfilled Javascript positions. Developer jobs are projected to increase by 24% over the next 10 years— much higher than the 10% average in other fields.

 

Community

JavaScript has one of the largest Overstack communities, and is the most tagged language in GitHub. You will have no problem finding resources or connecting with other working coders with such a sizable community.

 

Example job titles

  • Full-stack website developer
  • App developer
  • Website admin
  • JavaScript consultant
  • Quality assurance automation specialist

 

C#

C# is an open-source Microsoft programming language. It’s a high-level language, which means it can handle a lot of the nitty-gritty technical stuff for you. Since C# is “static,” much of the code is explicit and clearly defined.

This static nature of C# makes it easy to understand at a glance, and is why it’s the go-to choice for projects that need consistency, simplicity, and scale. C# is also a fast language to run, which makes it a great candidate for programming video games through the Unity engine.

If developing games or consistent code snippets sounds appealing to you, C# may be a good choice. It’s also certain to provide you with robust job opportunities and community.

 

Salary

Range: $45k - $120k

Average: $70k - $95k

Starting: $60k - $70k

 

Job outlook

Fewer students choose to learn C# compared to JavaScript ,even though the projected growth rates are about the same (24%). This slight saturation of the JavaScript job market might lead to higher salaries for C# programmers in the next few years. C# also has interesting growth opportunity in the virtual-reality (VR) game market.

 

Community

The C# community is not quite as active as JavaScript, but it’s still the 4th largest on Overstack and the 7th largest meetup community. The Microsoft brand also provides many resources to help developers master the language.


Example job titles

  • Full-stack web developer
  • Windows app developer
  • Information security specialist
  • C#.net developer
  • Database manager
  • Unreal developer

 

UX/Freelance

UX (user experience) is a true fusion of art and science. UX professionals use data to make products and websites people will love. ACA students in this track also learn how to build a personal brand, get clients, and start a successful freelance business. This is a great choice if you’re interested in human-centric design and/or have the desire to start your own freelance business.

UX (at least by this title) is a new and growing field. Many companies are starting to realize the importance of creating customer-centric designs. With this skill set in such high demand, hiring will be competitive (read: higher salaries!).

 

Salary

Range: $69k - $120k

Average: $72k - $99k

Starting: $61 - $80k

 

Job outlook

As consumers continue to interact with more complicated technologies, the need for UX designers will increase. The hottest new trends for UX design will be with voice recognition software, smart technology, and virtual reality platforms. The UX design job market is projected to grow by up to 30% in the next few years.

 

Community

The community for UX design is a lot different from the typical web developer communities, but is still very active. With so much excitement around this future of this field, there are new groups popping up all the time. Here is a list of top UX communities.

 

Example job titles

  • UX Designer (or UX Architect)
  • UX Engineer
  • UI/UX Developer
  • UX Researcher
  • User Interface Designer
  • Product Designer

 

Learn transferrable skills

All three tracks provide the foundational knowledge and transferrable skills for amazing web design. A working knowledge of C# will aid you in picking up JavaScript, and vice versa. UX designers’ great understanding of design principles helps make them effective website designers with even basic coding knowledge.

These interdisciplinary skills will help you impress hiring managers and improve your value when you start working with your new team.

 

Use these resources to help you decide

Taking in all this information can feel like drinking water from a firehose. A great next step in your research process is to speak with real-life developers already in the field.

Here are some resources to connect you with working programmers:

  • Hear from former students: Stephanie, Lillian, Jon.
  • Go to local coding events to pick the brains of other developers and/or to get some hands-on experience.
  • Subscribe to the ACA blog to learn about the industry and see student stories.

You can also connect with ACA graduates/students through our open house events or let our advisors answer your questions by scheduling a quick call.


Experience all three tracks with ACA’s Web 101 class

Many other programs expect students to choose an area of specialization right away. At Austin Coding Academy, we understand that a little bit of exposure to all your options will help make your decision more clear. That’s why we cover the basics of all three tracks in our intro to web class.

This intro course is great for the brand new student, all the way up to the student who’s dabbled with a few online tutorials. The ACA curriculum will solidify your coding knowledge, and our staff will provide you with the resources to help you land your dream job.

If you know you want to start working towards an amazing coding career, don't put it off. Let us answer your questions or come tour the campus. See how ACA can help you on your path towards an exciting and rewarding career.

Already convinced? Apply today!