Writing computer code is a lot like writing down your favorite recipe. Each individual task requires a sequence of detailed instructions. A computer runs through each instruction in the blink of an eye. By combining many tasks one after the other you can build a computer program to perform a useful job. This can be anything from setting an alarm to watching a video from your phone.
Skilled coders are highly sought-after in every industry. Many different specializations require coding knowledge. Tech pros like web developers, app developers, database designers, system engineers, and software engineers all code on a daily basis.
It all starts with the right education. Here are some of the challenges you'll face as you learn to code, and the various paths you can take to get a foundation in software engineering.
Common Difficulties with Learning to Code
Efforts have been made to increase awareness of the importance of coding. A few years ago, the computer literacy movement was started to emphasize that coding is for everyone. Prominent figures in the tech industry including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg have supported the cause.
You don’t have to be a tech genius to learn how to code, but any beginner will tell you: the struggle is real. With a basic understanding of technology coupled with hard work, determination, and persistence, you can master the basics of coding in just a few months.
But if you don’t have a solid plan in place or follow a structured education program, you could be looking at a long road ahead. Here are several reasons why people can sometimes struggle when learning to code:
- Where to Start: The internet holds a vast ocean of resources. All this information can be incredibly overwhelming. It can be so intimidating that it stops students before they’ve even started. Free online tutorials can be out-of-date or incomplete. Many beginners are confused about how to start and what exactly they should be focusing on.
- What to Learn: Beginners can bite off more than they can chew. They start off with something too advanced and end up disappointed. This tends to demoralize them and some might even quit before taking off. It’s also important to carry out research and understand which languages will be most useful for a coding job. You don’t want to spend months learning an obsolete technology.
- Not Enough Time: Students may assume they need years of full-time study before understanding how to code. While it’s true that coding requires discipline and effort, with the correct approach you can learn to write your first program in just a few hours. Keep practicing and working on projects and you could get hired as a coder within a year.
How to Learn to Code
There are a few different options available when learning to code. Apart from universities and colleges, several online learning platforms also offer certified courses.
College: University is the traditional approach most aspiring coders take. However, a degree isn’t necessarily required to land a coding job. Employers mainly look for relevant coding skills and hands-on experience. A bachelor’s degree can take 3 to 4 years to complete. The average tuition fees are around $30,000 per year. Degrees are great for learning a wide range of skills over an extended period of time.
Self-Learning: Coding can be self-taught. Several online resources work well in the initial stages of learning but become less effective as your education progresses. Often free tutorials and learning materials are poorly structured, out-of-date, and lack depth. Self-learning can be a lonely road to travel. You don’t gain experience working in teams and have nobody to discuss concepts with. There’s obviously no certification with self-learning. Employers often prefer candidates with a recognized learning program so not getting certified may make the job search more difficult.
Online Bootcamps: These online learning courses provide students with all the skills they need to secure a top coding job. Unlike a 4-year degree course, bootcamps are designed by coding experts to focus on the languages, tools, and techniques actually used by professional coders. This makes the course much more affordable than a degree. Students can go from complete beginner to hired within a single year.
Enroll in our web development bootcamp today to kickstart your career in tech. You’ll have access to leading mentors, build a stand-out portfolio, and receive all the support you need to achieve your coding goals.
Free Coding Training
If you’re looking for basic coding training there are several free online resources to check out:
- Code.org: Code.org hosts a wide range of different courses for students at any experience level. Code.org created history when they conducted an event “Hour of Code” in December 2013. Several US schools and around 20 participated in this code learning event. Another 25 million students went on to learn coding in 2014.
- Code conquest: Another free online guide for beginners. Here, you can watch video lectures, download cheat sheets, and play quizzes to test your knowledge.
These free resources can be a great place to get your feet wet in the coding world. You can enroll in a free program to get an idea of the type of work required, or to get a head-start before applying for more formal training.
Bear in mind that there are some disadvantages to free coding training. The tech space moves fast and some courses may not be completely up-to-date. They also don’t provide you with an opportunity to expand your professional network and work with other aspiring coders. So, although free courses can provide a good introduction to technical skills, they do nothing for soft skills like communication, teamwork, and organization.
Mentorship, coaching, and after-study support can be hugely beneficial in landing your first coding job. These benefits are usually only given to students enrolling in a more professional education program.
Which Language to Start With?
As you develop your coding skills, you’ll start to see a significant crossover between different languages. The syntax or rules will vary, but the fundamental concepts of loops, if-statements, functions, objects, and methods will generally stay the same. Once you learn one programming language, mastering additional languages will become much easier.
Our advice would be to take help from a mentor and follow a structured curriculum to make your learning journey smooth and productive.
How to Keep Learning
The tech industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, and so will your career. If you’re serious about this field, you’ll need to make an effort to stay on-trend with the latest tools and techniques.
One way to stay relevant and advance up the corporate ladder is to continually build your professional network. By connecting with like-minded individuals and being part of a coding community, you can learn from others and share new ideas.
You might also want to enroll in certification programs, which help validate all those hours you’ve spent memorizing CSS syntax and testing HTML commands. They also look great on your resume and demonstrate your coding passion to prospective employers.
Start a Future-Proof Career
Whichever training approach you decide to take, rest assured that you’ve made a great career choice. A future in coding can be immensely satisfying as you solve real-life problems and potentially change people’s lives. You’ll be highly rewarded and have plenty of specialization options to choose from.
If you’re still unsure about which tech career you’d like to follow, try browsing our blog. You can find more articles on coding, plus a range of other fields, to help you decide which path is right for you.
Learn to Code with Thinkful
Take the proven path to a high-income career with professional mentorship and support, flexible ways to pay, and real-world, project-based learning.