Do I Need to Know Math to Code? Advice From A Self-Taught Programmer

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Teaching yourself to code? How much math do you need to know to have a successful career? In this article, I’ll answer that as well as provide resources for you to fill the gaps.

This is a question I get often, and yes, it’s super vague.

So let me, as a self-taught developer of 5 years, try to break this question down.

Do You Need To Be Good At Math To Code? My Own Math Struggles and Success

I’m horrible at math.

Honestly.

The other day I had to google how to multiply two decimal numbers together. I thought we lined the decimals up, but of course, I was wrong.

Yet, I’ve been a fairly successful Software Engineer for 5 years now, from freelancing as a WordPress web developer to working on large sites such as Golf.com to now a DevOps Engineer on a team of pretty elite developers.

And I feel pretty confident about my skills even though I don’t feel the same about my math abilities.

Heres’s why…

Yes and No. Two types of developers

Let me describe two types of Software Engineers (a very broad term by the way).

There are:

1. App/Website Developers
2. Number crunchers.

1. App/Website Developers

This is where I fall.

I build apps and write automation.

What’s most important here is NOT MATH but LOGICAL THINKING.

I need to know if/else logic. I need to be able to pseudocode. And I need to be able to take documentation and tweak it for my particular task.

In this category, your math skills don’t matter.

Why?

Because computers do the math for you. Simple.

But they do not do the logic. You need to be logical and a good problem solver (and of course know how to code).

If you feel good in those categories, then your math skills matter very little. You can move forward with confidence.

If not, and you need to work on your algorithms, logic, etc., then you can come up to speed very quickly with the resource I talk about below.

2. Number Crunchers

If you want to be a number cruncher, then you must be good at math.

What is a number cruncher?

It’s data science. It’s machine learning and AI. It’s taking any data and using probability and algorithms to predict outcomes or to tell stories.

This is the path that requires the math.

If you are looking to become a data scientist or machine learning engineer, then yes, you will need to up your math skills.

And how can you do that?

Well let’s talk about it.

No CS Degree? My #1 Resource For You To Fill The Gap

Since sharing my own struggles of not having a computer science degree on my YouTube channel, I learned of a resource that fills all the voids of not having the math, logic, and skills that you would get in a 4 year degree for a tiny fraction of the cost.

And no it’s not a boring book or college lectures.

It’s a website called Brilliant, and it’s…brilliant.

The brilliancy here is that you can learn these skills WHILE you are learning to code or even to supplement your skills while in a thriving coding career.

Companies are no longer requiring CS degrees, you just have to prove yourself. You just need to come up to speed on Computer Science Fundamentals and Algorithm fundamentals both of which are taught on Brilliant.

The learning is Interactive (fun) and the courses are created by award-winning teachers, researchers, and professionals from MIT, Caltech, Duke, Microsoft, and Google.

If you are in the App/Website Builder category, then you would benefit from the Algorithm Fundamentals course, the Computer Science Fundamentals course, or the Logic course.

If you are in the Number Cruncher category, you should check out the Probability/Statistics course, or the Calculus or Algebra courses.

And if you are a software developer just looking to stay sharp, there’s plenty of interactive fun for you as well:

Conclusion

So do you have to know math to be a developer?

Yes.

How much?

Very little if you are an App/Website builder and a lot if you want to be a number cruncher.

Don’t go back to school and put yourself in foolish debt to do so, though.

Teach yourself. Use tools like Brilliant.org to fill the gaps.

If I can do it with my lingering math deficiency, then I’m certain you can do the same.

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