Does Coding Require Math? The Answer Might Surprise You
You might assume that careers in coding are for people who crunch numbers and enjoy equations. If that’s not you, don’t count yourself out of a programming career! The reality is, even those who don’t have a specialized math background can become coders. Learning how much and how often math is needed in your work can help you decide, “Is a tech job right for me?” So if you’re wondering, “does coding require math?” read on. The answer might surprise you.
Chelsea Wetzel wasn’t someone who much liked math in school. Later, though, she realized she wanted to build cool things through technology. A question made her second-guess herself: She wondered if coding requires math, and if she could learn to code even if she didn’t like math.
Chelsea decided she needed support to make her tech goals a reality. She enrolled in BloomTech’s Full Stack Web Development program to learn all the skills she would need to be a developer. She also learned that she didn’t have to have advanced math skills to get her dream job.
“Growing up in school, I did not like math. I didn’t really care for science, either. I struggled through school,” says Chelsea, who is now a front end developer. “BloomTech helped me learn how to love learning. One of the number-one things that BloomTech has taught me is how to solve a problem.” She uses that dedication to problem-solving—not fancy math expertise—to thrive in her job.
Just like Chelsea, you might be surprised to realize that programming is a diverse field. It needs people of all different backgrounds—including people who didn’t love math in school.
You might not need as much math as you imagine. In fact, you probably have all the necessary math skills you’d need. Does coding require math? And if so, how much? Let’s find out.
Does Coding Require Math? A Straight Answer
One of the questions we hear often from applicants at BloomTech is “Does computer science require math?” or “Does coding involve math?” The straight answer is yes—but not as much as you might think. You don’t need to be good at advanced math to become a good software developer.
While some fields of programming require you to have extensive knowledge of mathematics (such as game development and machine learning), you don’t need advanced math skills for most coding jobs. You’ll just need basic math skills, plus problem-solving and technical skills, to build general software or code web interfaces.
“Being a good programmer is more about critical thinking and problem solving than math skills,” says Josh Knell, the director of instructional design at BloomTech. “Back when I started coding, I was shocked to find out that I really just needed a basic working knowledge of math like the order of operations, understanding basic algebra using variables and formulas, and knowing how to implement built-in math methods found in programming languages.”
These foundational math skills are enough for you to gain the other skills needed for jobs like web developer and software engineer. “That isn’t saying math isn’t important, it’s to say that the majority of math is already done for you. You need to know how to implement it to solve a problem.”
Now that you know coding does involve math, what do you need for a job in tech? Let’s address which math skills will help you become a good coder.
Math for Programmers: The Skills You Do Need
Coding is a highly logical and methodical field of study. As a web developer, programmer, or engineer, you’ll use your skillset to logically solve problems and build solutions. So put away your protractor: This means you won’t have to do a lot of math day-to-day.
While a deep background in math isn’t necessary to start a tech career, a basic math foundation can help you use existing tools to solve problems. How? Understanding how and where math happens in coding can give you a clearer picture of how your work fits in the whole.
Here are a few areas of math which may come in handy in your work as a programmer.
Basic Math Skills for Coding
Computers speak the language of numbers. It makes sense, then, that you’ll need some math knowledge to learn to code. The good news is that most of these skills are not advanced mathematics. Here’s the basics of required math for programmers.
1. Pre-Algebra for Programming
Since programming languages are algebraic, they use variables, functions, and operations to define and solve problems. The good news is that you probably learned pre-algebra in middle or high school.
Don’t be intimidated by the term “pre-algebra.” This entails standard arithmetic, since the basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are involved in almost every program you’ll write. Having a strong grasp of these basic skills can help you approach problems with logic and develop a programmer’s mindset.
2. Binary Mathematics and Boolean Algebra for Programming
Binary mathematics is foundational to computer science since computers use 1s and 0s to represent everything, from text, pixels, numbers, and symbols. The system of logic they use to carry out the binary instructions is the Boolean logic, where 1 means true and 0 means false.
Ever wondered about how your computer processors and chips work? Or why colors are assigned a certain number in graphic designing? Well, that’s Boolean algebra and logic gates at work.
How does Boolean logic apply to programmers? Most modern computer programs use Boolean logic to make decisions every day. Boolean is also a fundamental component in almost all programming languages used to implement statements. As a beginner to programming, understanding the basics of Boolean algebra would not only aid you in your coding work but also help you stretch your logic muscles!
Don’t worry if you’ve never heard the term “Boolean” before. You’ll learn how to apply this type of logic when learning how to code. BloomTech’s Full Stack Web Development course teaches you how to apply logic and binary math in the practical ways you’ll need in the future as a software developer or engineer.
Next, let's see some nice-to-have math skills for programmers!
Advanced Math Skills for Coding
If you’re still wondering, “Does coding require math?” you may be imagining tech education that’s closer to a university computer science degree, which trains academics and specialized developers. That means if you want hands-on experience—and to learn how to start a tech job without years of study—you’ll be better off with a shorter and more streamlined curriculum, like in our Full Stack Web Development course.
For certain tech fields, such as data science and game development, you will need advanced math knowledge. Even if you don’t plan on developing games or creating graphic design software, having a surface-level understanding of these advanced concepts of math can help. Even a passing knowledge of what they are would help you communicate with others and make you an invaluable colleague.
Remember, programming is often a team sport, where you’ll be working with other developers to build solutions. Understanding how math enables advanced programming can help you work effectively with specialized developers—and enable you to advance your career.
We already established that computers speak the language of numbers. The language of numbers for graphics is geometry, which deals with the mathematics of shapes. Programming graphics—for example, for video games, multimedia, and animation—requires a solid grasp of geometry concepts.
The good news is you don’t have to memorize formulas. Huge libraries already have these details, and you can always look up the information.
Calculus is a critical tool for programmers who want to specialize in video games and machine learning. It is used in everything from simulating motions to machine learning algorithms.
Even if you have no intention of working with complicated data sets, understanding the role calculus plays in programming can make it easier to thrive in a tech job. Calculus is used in a wide array of industries including machine learning, data mining, scientific computing, image processing, and creating the graphics and physics engines for video games, including the 3D visuals for simulations.
As a coder, you’ll be able to access vast libraries of pre-built tools made with calculus. Having baseline knowledge of how calculus is used in programming can help you utilize these libraries better, even if you don’t learn the specifics of advanced topics like multivariate calculus.
3. Linear Algebra
When you use digital cameras or photo editing software, when you play video games, or even when you make a browser search, you are working with tools built with linear algebra. For any kind of data science or analysis, a solid foundation in linear algebra is essential since data for analysis is often represented using a specific arrangement of information known as a matrix or matrices. Matrices are also used in game development since any programming problem that can be expressed as a matrix aids in increasing the efficiency of the program. Machine learning algorithms also rely heavily on linear algebra.
While coders from other disciplines such as web development and front end development don’t need to be linear algebra whizzes, understanding the concepts will help you find and use the right tools for advanced problem solving.
4. Graph Theory
From the internet to GPS, graph theory is used in almost every networking technology. In fact, Google’s first algorithm for ordering search results, PageRank, was built using graph theory.
Graph theory is the study of connections between nodes and can be used to solve complex problems by illustrating them on graphs. Think of how your GPS calculates the shortest route between two points on a map. That’s graph theory at work, and while it’s not essential at the beginner levels, it can help you hone your problem solving skills as a coder.
Programming Jobs for People Who Don’t Like Math
If the idea of complex equations makes your palms sweat, don’t fear! There are plenty of tech career paths with great potential and substantially less math theory. Let’s explore tech career paths for people who don’t like math.
1. Web Development
Developers work in agile teams to build solutions for complex problems. You would be writing code to develop applications and websites alongside other engineers. This means you should be a good team player, be able to think logically, and have a firm grasp on software development practices. What you don’t need: advanced math knowledge.
If you’re considering a career in web development, BloomTech’s Full Stack Web Development course teaches you everything you need to get a great programming job after graduation.
(This is a great field if you’re looking for jobs that are likely to be in demand for years to come. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that demand for software developers will grow 22% by 2030.)
2. Quality Assurance Engineering
Quality assurance engineers ensure applications and software work the way they are designed to. As a quality assurance engineer, you would test developed software using software automation methods and critically analyze them.
A good eye for detail, investigative skills, and knowledge of programming and software automation are crucial to succeed in this role but it doesn’t require you to have a dedicated math background. You’ll need to understand programming, so graduating from a course like our Full Stack Web program will prepare you for a quality assurance engineering role.
(By the way, this is an in-demand and financially lucrative field. Quality assurance engineers earn a median salary of $110,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)
3. DevOps Engineering
A DevOps engineer is someone who manages a team of software engineers, facilitating the development process to make it more efficient and productive. They usually excel in several programming languages and operating systems and are able to think holistically about the entire process of development. (Did you know our Full Stack Web Development course teaches you multiple programming languages?)
While it’s a demanding job, DevOps engineers use little to no advanced math in their day-to-day work.
Can I Become a Coder if I Don’t Like Math?
Yes, absolutely! To code, what you need is the ability to solve problems via data modeling and algorithms, along with the persistence to stick with the problem.
Here at BloomTech, we prepare you to be career-ready, equipping you with all the skills you’ll need to succeed in your field. Our courses are designed by industry experts to meet the needs of employers who are searching for skilled coders, like our graduates. Our courses teach the most in-demand skills for entry-level tech positions so you finish ready to get hired.
Companies need diversity and fresh thinking in their workforce, including a variety of skills, backgrounds, and personalities. That includes people who don’t love math! In fact, many developers respond with a resounding no to the question “Does computer science require math experts?”
Now that you know you don’t have to love math to work in tech, are you ready to start a coding career? Learn more about BloomTech’s Full Stack Web Development course, or check out our alumni testimonials to see where you could be this time next year.