It seems like the entire world is talking about the importance of becoming a coder. However many of these discussions aren’t practical. This guide will walk through the various developer learning options available today. And help you decide on which option is right for you and your goals.
Degrees of Programming Expertise
If you’re new to development the first task you should complete it decide why you want to learn programming. There are a number of reasons for learning how to code, including:
- To become a professional developer.
- Improving your skill in your current profession.
- Learning for fun or for hobby projects.
It’s important to decide on your goals since they will dictate what learning strategy to take when it comes to how to learn programming. Let’s look at each of them.
To become a professional developer
If you’re goal is to become a professional dev congratulations. You’ll be joining one of the fastest growing industries that the world has ever seen. The pay is great and the right dev jobs are both fun and rewarding. However with all those benefits comes a strict set of learning requirements.
I’ve gone into some of the prerequisites to professional development jobs in past episodes, if you’d like to check them out. Without going into too much detail, pro coding jobs will require you to become proficient in a programming language and several frameworks. And simply building applications that function properly isn’t enough for most jobs. Instead you’ll need to be able to build apps that follow processes such as:
- Test and behavior driven development
- Clean coding styles that are scalable and adhere to industry best practices
- Coordinate with dev teams and seamlessly work with code version control systems
- And the list goes on and on
Any platforms or guides that say you can become a professional developer in a month or claims like that are simply lying to you. Becoming a professional developer takes years. I’ve been a dev for over a decade and I’m still learning each day.
With that being said, if you want to make a career as a developer there are countless resources for achieving your goal. Personally I’d recommend starting with a developer bootcamp. Bootcamps allow you to become fully immersed in a language or framework over a course of several months. And many of them, including the one I run, devCamp, offer job guarantees after you’ve completed the course.
These immersive programs aren’t easy or cheap. They’ll usually require around 40 hours a week of study and practice. And you’ll find they range from around $5k to $20k. This may seem like a pricey option, however how many training platforms can guarantee that you’ll get a job after a few months of study?
Is this Practical?
It may seem like I said a contradictory statement when I said that developer bootcamps can help you get a coding job in a few months. But I also said it takes years to become a professional dev. Let me let you in on a dirty little secret in the software world… many individuals working developer jobs aren’t professional programmers. After getting hired from a coding bootcamp you’ll most likely be a junior developer. The companies that hire bootcamp graduates understand that they’re usually new to programming and they take it upon themselves to continue the new hire’s education.
This is a win/win scenario. Developers are able to get great paying jobs with limited experience. And software companies are able to train developers to follow the procedures specific to their organization. Check out our bootcamp.
Improving your skill in your current profession
Another great reason for having interest in how to learn programming is to improve in your current career. I’ll give you a great example of how this can work. I have a good friend who spent his whole education focused on business. After graduating from college he got a job working for an energy company and he realized he wasn’t climbing the corporate ladder quite as fast as he wanted.
He approached me initially to see what it would take for him to transition and become a full time developer. After a few minutes of speaking with him it became apparent that he didn’t really want to become a programmer, he was simply frustrated with his current job. So I began asking him questions about what types of tasks he had at work. He worked in the supply chain division for his company and it was his job to comb through fleet management data and generate reports.
I proposed that he learn the basics of programming and then to focus on data science. After a few months he had successfully built a big data analysis program that was able to manage his entire division. When he presented his work to the company’s executives they were so impressed with the program that he was promoted and given a hefty raise. When I talk to him now he doesn’t mention leaving his job anymore. Instead he discusses how he loves it and how he’s constantly looking for new ways to integrate automated mechanisms to improve the work he does.
Is this Practical?
If you think this scenario fits with your goals. You can follow a much different path than professional developers. You can take online courses that walk you through practical projects that you can re-purpose for your own needs. For example, the executive I just mentioned didn’t learn how to build a machine learning algorithm from scratch. In fact he’d be completely lost in even an entry level computer science class. Instead he took one of my programming courses and saw how the decision tree I built could be used in his division. After altering the data points he was able to use it for his specific needs.
Learning for Fun or as a Hobby
This is a fun and relaxed way to learn. If you have a pet project that you’ve been wanting to build or if you simply like learning for the sake of learning, you’ll discover a wide variety of resources that will help you achieve your goals.
When people ask me where to start when it comes to building code projects for fun I typically point them to practical tutorials. If you’re simply learning for fun you don’t have to waste your time on complex computer science topics. Instead you can focus on following step by step guides that walk you through how to build projects.
For these types of guides you can access affordable ones on sites like Udemy. (Where I have a few courses). The great thing about these types of courses is that they come with:
- Written guides
- The source code for the project that you’ll be building
This approach to learning makes for a great way to be introduced to development. And you never know, starting with hobby projects could end up with you going to the next level and learning professional programming.
Developer Learning Options Summary
In summary, I hope that this has been a helpful discussion on the various developer learning options that are available. I’d recommend checking out each option and taking an honest look at which one is right for you. No matter what you decide, learning how to code is a great experience and I recommend everyone to study it in one form or another.