There are many different ways to learn to code and become a web developer. What works best for you depends on your learning style, resources, and time commitment. Here is an in-depth look at the most common ways you can make the career change to become a web developer.
Computer Science undergraduate:
This is the traditional web developer path, but for those of you who can’t afford to go to a 4 year college at this point in your life, it’s not the only path. If you’re planning to attend college soon and have a passion for computers that goes beyond just building websites that work, this is the path for you.
- You should be able to actually answer all of those algorithm whiteboard questions everyone else is so afraid of.
- You will have a deeper understanding of programming and how computers physically work (at least initially after graduation, but you have to keep learning too). You will find you can apply this knowledge in more ways than you at first realized to the world of programming.
- Chances are that your college will have career services. Also, computer science degrees are well-respected in the world of programmers.
- By the time you graduate, you are very familiar with dealing with painfully difficult information and learning. The patience you gain from this will be useful for the rest of your career.
- College can be extremely expensive and four years is a big time commitment. You can learn the skills needed to be hired in a shorter amount of time, then have far more resources at your disposal to learn part-time.
- In regards to knowing the latest technology, whatever you learned in college may be obsolete by the time you graduate (or before then, depending on how quick to adopt new technologies your CS department is). So your learning isn’t done — but then again, learning is never done for anyone, ever.
- Although this depends heavily on your specific college program and your personal experiences, you are likely to have less collaboration skills than bootcamp grads.
For most people, this is the hardest option. If you have no problem being disciplined and struggling in solitude, this is for you. You need to be OK being stuck and challenged on a regular basis. You’ll be the first to understand that Googling is a skill that programmers will spend a lifetime honing.
- Literally anyone can do it (no barrier to entry except for a computer and an internet connection).
- This shows great discipline and passion. It’s no easy feat to learn to code, let alone do it completely on your on. I personally would never overlook a job application of a self-taught programmer.
- With all the free resources online...this will be the least costly in terms of money.
- You are in complete control of what and how you learn.
- It is highly likely you will be learning slower than other paths. What you save in money, you can easily lose in time.
- No mentors, peers, or accountability can be de-motivating and lower your chances of success.
- There is a chance you might not learn best practices early on (you can always change this by making a very active effort of learning them).
- Assumably no help with job placement (check out this free career course though).
Full-Time Bootcamp student:
This option is best for those who can quit their jobs and devote all their time to learning to code for several months. With this option, not only will you learn the fastest and have the most accountability, but you will gain critical collaboration skills by working with your peers every day.
- You will most likely come out of it which good collaboration skills — besides critical communication skills, this also means knowing how to use Github to work with other people on a project.
- By far the quickest way to learn. It is absolutely amazing how much you can learn in 3 or 4 months with this level of immersion, support, and accountability. You will outpace all other paths in this regard.
- Good bootcamps should have a very solid career service program upon graduation (Before you join a bootcamp, I encourage you to question them in detail to find out exactly what “career services” means for them).
- Your “non-programmer” background usually gives you a unique set of skills (such as project management, customer support etc) that your computer science peers won’t necessarily have. Knowing how to write and communicate is important.
- Also, depending on the bootcamp, you will have been learning some of the latest technologies because bootcamps can iterate on their curriculum so quickly.
- Not everyone has the money for a bootcamp and can’t give up their jobs for 4 months. There are loan options, scholarships, and other support that can help you make it through.
- You may end up with gaps in your knowledge if you were able to heavily lean on your peers for group projects (this is something we actively work to make sure doesn’t happen at Thinkful). You definitely don’t need to be an expert in everything, but make sure you understand the critical parts of the material you cover.
- You might see your non-traditional background as a con, but many bootcamp graduates find their unique background gives them skills that more traditional programmers do not necessarily have. At the end of the day, your skill set, hard work, and people skills matter significantly more than your background.
Part-Time Bootcamp student:
If you want accountability and the ability to learn best practices but cannot commit to a full-time program, this is the best choice for you. Also some people work better 1-on-1 or on their own than with a large group.
- Self-paced but you still have accountability. For example, in Thinkful’s case you meet with your personal mentor 3 times per week and you can complete the course work on your own time.
- Like the full-time bootcamp student, you will learn some of the latest technologies by the time you graduate.
- Just because a bootcamp is part-time does NOT mean it shouldn’t still have excellent career services. Do your research and know what to expect. (At Thinkful we provide amazing, in-depth career services to both our Flexible and Full Time students, including 1-on-1 career coaching, interview practice, and salary negotiation advice).
- Less collaboration than the full-time bootcamp programmer, but you will still have mentors and peers to work with.
- It does cost money, although you don’t have to quit your job and will typically cost less than an immersive program (though: consider opportunity cost of lost income — your cash flow each month will be far better each month spent with an income).
All in all, there is no one right way to learn programming and as you can see, there are pros and cons with each. The outcome of each of these options depends greatly on your own personality, commitment, and experiences. The important thing to realize is that regardless of your path you can have success if you put in the effort.