Learning to code is as important as learning to read or do math, says Douglas Rushkoff in a CNN report. Coding plays such an important part in our daily lives that not learning to code is extremely detrimental to the future of children and adults everywhere. We interact with so many apps and programs that it’s vital to understand how they work and how they perform the work they do. Experts like those at a Colorado company, DevelopIntelligence, say just as reading adds value to our lives, so learning to code will.

Improving individual lives is not all that learning to code will accomplish. People who can code can add a significant amount of value to a company. Employers are willing to pay for workers who can code. Coding is big business, Rushkoff points out. Even though people can learn to code online for free through sites like Codecademy, it’s a skill that can bring in a lot of money for companies.

Rushkoff quotes the CEO of Mahalo, Jason Calacanis, as saying, “‘The HR cost of landing an individual programmer might be $50-100K for a large company. That’s taking into account advertising, headhunter fees, interviewing time and internal staff.’” Companies like Facebook and Google are even buying entire companies with coders on staff just to avoid having to pay the astronomical costs of sourcing just one coder. Calacanis says that each employee who knows how to code can be valued for $500,000 to $1 million toward the cost of buying such a business.

The number of people who know how to code in America is low compared to the number of jobs available. The total number of coding jobs available between 2014 and 2014 is expected to decrease by 8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but that takes into account the fact that many of the available jobs are shipped overseas since labor costs are cheaper there.

Some companies choose to keep their coding jobs in the U.S. because project management costs can be expensive compared to keeping the jobs Stateside. Hiring coders aware of cultural nuances and who can build sites for particular industries and who understand users’ expectations can pay off in the long run, even if it costs more in wages and recruiting upfront. Another option many companies employ is bringing programmers from countries like India and China to the United States. They come on a temporary and expensive visa. These countries, and many others, teach students to code in school, so they are ahead of American students from the get-go.

So learning to code is more than learning how to read; it empowers you to actually create your own book. Having the skills to imagine and make a program come to life is going to be a vital and necessary skill in the coming years. It won’t be enough to simply take from programs. Employees will need to learn how to code to do their jobs. It will likely be as important a skill as typing. In their daily lives, people will need to know how to code as well to accomplish and understand basic tasks. Coding is an integral part of the future. Learn it now, and keep updating your skills as time passes to stay relevant and in the technological loop as technology becomes an ever-more important part of our lives.