Why Learn R?

R is the go-to language for statistical computing and big data analysis – and we all know how important that is these days. Learning R means you’ll gain a skillset that’s very valuable for big enterprises, and one that future-proofs your skills profile too.

So, How Difficult is R?

Let’s be honest here; R isn’t the easiest language in the world for beginners to learn. It reads less like English than other languages and takes a while longer to wrap your head around. It’s all down to its syntax, but let’s not get bogged down in the details.

Once you get past the learning curve, it’s obvious that R’s many useful tools and built-in functionality makes certain tasks and projects much more streamlined than other languages. This is especially true when it comes to data visualisation; not so surprising since R was designed by statisticians for that very reason.

It’s not just data visualisation that R does well; for any kind of data analysis, machine learning, and many areas of scientific computing R is your best bet. Basically, it’s absolutely worth learning. Plus if you already have some experience with any of the above areas, you’re sure to find it at least a little easier to grasp because you’ll have a very clear idea of the end product and how you should get there.

What About Community Support?

All programming languages have a developer community that has grown up around them as the language has gained popularity, so there’s always plenty of ways to give and receive advice. The larger a community, the more exciting and interesting ways you’ll see the language being used and developed, so it’s a vital component. Since it’s more of a specialised language you might expect this not to be the case with R, but in actual fact there’s plenty of support out there.

  • StackOverflow:

    R ranks as the 11th most followed programming language on this Q&A site, which isn’t too shabby at all. All of the most common questions are covered.

  • Meetup:

    There are countless Meetup groups all over the world for every single programming language in existence, so it’s quite impressive that R ranks as the 8th largest community in this case. There are over 270 R Meetup groups with over 130,000 members worldwide.

  • GitHub:

    There are over 199,000 R projects on GitHub which, believe it or not, is only a very small number compared to the most popular languages like Python. Nonetheless, the quality of work on R projects far outweighs that of the majority of its contenders.

How Will R Benefit My Career?

In a word: hugely. Companies are gathering more and more data about their customers and they need more and more data scientists to analyse it. Demand for R developers will increase at a rapid rate over the next few years, so the job prospects are great. At present the average salary stands at around $84k, and can range anywhere between $32k – $130k depending on experience.

Where is R Headed?

Data analysis is becoming more and more important for businesses, as it’s the key to understanding their customers. Therefore R is set to skyrocket over the coming years, with interest in learning the language growing by over 50% last year. It’s currently the 18th most popular language, and you can bet that in another couple of years it will most definitely have a spot in the top 10. So in short, there’s never been a better time to learn R.

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