While learning to program is really a lifelong process, it’s actually possible to become competent enough at coding for employment in under a year. But while a job is always nice, we’d strongly recommend taking the time to really digest everything you’re learning before jumping in at the deep end.
Hello! I’m Jamie, and while I’m not a professional developer, I have used a variety of programming languages over the years for several purposes. Sometimes I was just moving files around my computer, and other times I was writing scripts to mod video games; in all of these situations, though, I tried to write the best code possible.
Today, I’d like to provide a brief overview of what learning to code actually involves, especially given that so many people are considering pursuing programming as a vocation. I’ll talk about how long it might take to learn the fundamentals, the best ways to approach learning to code, and also the best time to start learning (hint: it’s now!).
Is Coding hard to learn?
Before we go further with this article, it’s a good idea to define “coding.” There are modern development environments (such as Scratch, Unreal Engine’s Blueprint system, and Webflow, among others) that allow users to write entire games and software applications without learning to type a single line of any programming language.
So, we’re going to stick with the more conventional idea of coding: creating software in a mainly text-based environment that necessitates writing literal code. We’ll also include in our definition a mandatory understanding of common programming concepts such as loops, conditional statements, functions, and class objects (at a bare minimum).
These sorts of ideas tend to exist in just about any programming language created in the last twenty years, and – once you’ve grasped them – it’s usually pretty easy to apply them in different programming environments (once you learn the appropriate syntax, of course).
So, is that coding hard to learn? Yes and no. Yes, in that it will require dedication and patience while you learn to understand some fairly abstract concepts. To really ingrain this comprehension into your brain takes a significant chunk of time for most people.
However, if you’re willing to keep pushing forward even when things do get complicated, and if you’re eager to come back to it after taking a break because a new idea was frustrating you so much, you will become a programmer. Eventually.
It’s not an unrealistic goal to go from writing your first line of code to landing your first software development job in a year; however, that will take a lot of time and effort.
You can (and should!) start learning independently, but – if you’re serious about getting a job in programming – the best approach for most people is to enroll in a course. This can either be in a traditional college or university or a dedicated coding boot camp with crash courses.
What are some of the easiest coding languages to learn?
There are dozens – if not hundreds – of programming languages in existence that are very accessible for new learners. The most popular of these is probably Python, an incredibly versatile language used in all kinds of business and academic environments. Google, Dropbox, and Spotify are just three massive companies that are always hiring Python programmers.
You can use Python for everything from writing your first basic “Hello, world!” programs to games, apps, desktop software, and even web apps.
If you’re not yet feeling confident enough to tackle a “traditional” programming language, though, there are other options; as I mentioned above, visual coding environments like Scratch will allow you to produce working programs without needing to write a single line of code.
The great thing about these tools is that they still require users to understand and correctly utilize common programming elements. Accordingly, you could then graduate to using a more conventional language (such as Python) at a later time while still being able to transfer some of the ideas you’ve already learned to implement.
This is a perfectly valid route to take when learning to code and also will allow you to enjoy some pretty advanced features right out of the gate. It’s worth noting that the Scratch environment is more conducive to more straightforward programs (the code editor doesn’t make it easy to navigate large amounts of code).
How long does it take to learn to code for apps?
The shortest period of time between writing your first line of code and producing your first basic app will be around three months. This would mean acquainting yourself not just with all of the abstract coding concepts programming involves – such as classes, functions, and loops, as mentioned above – but also with using an app development environment, such as Xcode (for iOS) or Android Studio.
It would probably be more realistic to aim to do this in half a year, assuming you could invest a couple of hours into your learning process each day. Even then, this is pretty optimistic; we’d highly recommend taking a much slower approach to learning to code, ensuring that you fully comprehend and digest every lesson before moving on to the next.
Approaching programming in this more measured way would give you a stronger foundation to employ when moving on to more advanced software development. Not only will you understand the code better when you read it back, but you’ll also be able to write more efficient code as your brain continues to evolve with each additional hour you put into it.
How long does it take to learn to code a website?
Just as we had to define what “coding” was at the beginning of this article, it’s probably a good idea to clarify what we mean when talking about “coding a website.”
If you’d just like to learn to place some text and images on a basic web page so that others can access them via any browser, the requisite understanding of HTML can be obtained in a day.
What is the best way to learn to program?
The best way to learn to program is to start teaching yourself the basics using one of the countless free tutorials available online. I taught myself Python using TutorialsPoint, an incredible learning resource with information on just about any programming language used in the software development industry since 1970. Another worthwhile resource is W3Schools, which offers tutorials for aspiring web developers.
While it’s entirely possible to learn everything you need to know about programming yourself, it’s worth looking into enrolling in either a traditional Computer Science course or finding a private coding boot camp near you.
Bootcamps are definitely worth considering for anyone wishing to expedite the learning process as much as possible; some academies, such as Makers and Fullstack Academy, offer many courses aimed at prospective students who have taught themselves the basics of coding and who are now ready to immerse themselves in an intensive learning environment for a few months.
The benefits of this approach are numerous; in traditional CS courses, it’s not uncommon to learn to program using somewhat-antiquated technology, which will only become more irrelevant by the time you graduate. In coding boot camps, you’ll typically be working with the latest industry-standard tools while often also gaining immediate access to a professional network that could take years to develop by yourself.
On the other hand, even a more traditional degree course might not let you play with cutting-edge technology or put you in touch with the greatest minds in the business. But, you’ll have the opportunity to develop a solid foundation of software development over several years.
Likewise, you’ll be learning from lecturers and other veterans who have been involved in technical environments since well before startup culture existed. This is no bad thing and will allow you to see the industry from a more grounded point of view!
What is the best time to learn to code?
The best time to start learning to code was yesterday. The next best time to start learning is today!
Seriously, the sooner you start, the better. It’s actually becoming more common for children as young as five to start coding, especially if their parents work in software engineering. Most world-class programmers tend to start between the ages of five and twelve.
The time it takes to learn coding will vary according to your specific goals, but it’s not unrealistic to become competent enough for employment in twelve months.
Even if you have absolutely no aspirations about coding for a living, the things you’ll be able to achieve with a few months of self-taught Python knowledge might surprise you. I didn’t start until I was in my late twenties, and I have managed to build several basic programs that have helped make my life a little easier!
Hopefully, this article has helped to clarify what you should expect going forward as you begin this exciting new chapter in your life. Coding is not just a financially rewarding endeavor but also a mentally stimulating one that can allow you to work on some fascinating projects.
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