How long does it take to learn how to code?

May 7, 2021

7 Min Read

There are many career opportunities you can pursue within IT and tech and the great news is you don’t necessarily need to have a four year degree. If you have the passion to find a job in tech and the eagerness to learn, there are many different routes to take. If you’ve thought of learning how to code, stick to what works for you and make what felt too far to reach possible.

Some considerations you should keep in mind include time, resources, and starting skill level. This article explores different methods on how to learn how to code effectively so that you can apply your learned skills to a job.

Different Ways to Learn Coding

Like any technical career, the more you learn and practice coding, the more you understand the concepts better. However, we all have different times and schedules for learning activities. Above all, students learn at different paces. Let us discuss the learning models below based on what type of learner you are.

Self-Teaching

If you are a sharp student, you can quickly learn coding on your own. Technology has made it possible to learn through online platforms. There are many online resources where you can get reliable information from just by searching for “how to code”. There are even professionals who have websites specialized to teach coding skills to self learners. With a bit of discipline and dedication, self-teaching can be one of the quickest ways to get ahead in coding.

The best advantage of self-teaching is that it can be totally free if you know where to look. A secondary benefit is that you learn at your own pace and schedule. You don’t have to squeeze your schedule to fit in any official program so you learn whenever you want.

However, this model is disadvantageous because you will never learn to code faster if you lack self discipline. You should create a schedule and respect it no matter what comes along the way. For those that lack self discipline, you may end up taking longer than through a program with more structure or worse — you may never learn how to code at all.

With this model, you can’t estimate the finish time since you are on your own. You can finish faster if you are highly disciplined or delay if you keep on procrastinating.

Coding Bootcamps

Bootcamps another model that could take the shortest period to learn to code. Coding bootcamps are programs that run for a short period, and they are specialized in teaching people how to find a career in tech. This can span from web development, mobile app development, to pure software engineering.

Many bootcamps offer various courses at different periods, but most of the courses range between three and six months.

According to studies, coding bootcamps are becoming common, and many people are embracing the idea positively. Within a relatively short period of time, these courses focus on strong fundamentals and applying what you learn to real life examples.

Another benefit you get from bootcamps is building a portfolio by doing projects as you learn. These portfolios make it easy for you to bring something to the table as you interview for jobs so that there is concrete evidence you know your stuff. Many bootcamps also offer guidance on how to land a solid job in the tech industry as it helps them with their statistics on graduation and job placement rates.

Computer Science Degree in University

The traditional way to learn to code is enrolling in a four year degree program in computer science from a university. This may take the longest in terms of getting a foundation but many see this as the best way to get a thorough understanding of software development.

However, the downside of this model is obviously the time frame. If you’ve already gone through college and have a bachelor’s degree, it might not make sense to go back to school and take all the other prerequisite courses to earn another degree.

Also, the cost of pursuing a computer science degree is high. The cost of higher education is very expensive, to the extent that some students have to look for scholarships. If you don’t have the fees, this model might be a hard sell for you.

Online Computer Science Degree

An alternative to bootcamps and a four year bachelors in computer science that seems to get a bit of both options is an online master’s degree from an accredited university. Some top tier universities offer online courses that will earn you a master’s degree at the end of the term. 

You may need to take the GRE in order to apply for the program but some schools just need students to apply. These courses run between a year to two years generally and do follow a schedule. 

Professors lead these classes either through live online lectures or recorded lectures so that you can learn on your own time. Homework and projects are assigned to be completed so it’s not entirely schedule free. You can expect courses to be pretty extensive and intensive but some courses are designed to allow for working adults to take it as night school. 

Another potential downside is the cost. Since you are getting an accredited master’s degree upon completion, course fees can get pretty close to going to in-person classes at a university. That means upwards of tens of thousands of dollars for this option to learn how to code.

Coding Languages

With coding, the languages are relatively easy to learn if you focus on getting the fundamentals down. It takes around four and six months to learn a new programming language if you have no background in that language. After that initial learning period, you should be able to write simple code to tackle new problems.

Coding is a continuous learning process

StackCache likes to emphasize that most tech professions require continuous learning since there are still new problems to discover within technology. As you learn how to code, there are resources available through sites like StackOverflow where people share problems they’ve solved. The awesome thing is that there will always be more solutions uploaded by other users as they collaborate with other coders to find new ways to create and solve things. The more you commit to building new things, the faster you will continue to sharpen your skills.

Tips to Learn Coding Faster

We all learn at different paces and outside of learning how to code, you’ll have other priorities. However, despite these differences, there are general tips StackCache suggests in order to grasp specific coding concepts faster. 

 Define the work you want to do

With clearly defined goals, it’ll be easier to understand how to break down a problem. Smaller steps to even large problems can make coding feel more manageable. Instead of saying “I want to learn how to code,” start with “What do I want to build?” If your answer is a website, you may want to look up languages specific to web development like CSS or JavaScript. If your answer is a mobile app, perhaps Apple iOS’ Swift language is a better fit. After knowing what you’re aiming for, it’s time to break it down further. You can create a plan to read one chapter of “How to code in Swift” every night or enroll in a bootcamp as your next steps!

Never Stop Practicing

After learning some basic concepts, always practice your skills and get solutions to different problems. Practice makes you understand more concepts and improve the overall knowledge you already have. After you bask in the feelings of accomplishment after solving one problem, find the next one you want to move onto!

 Avoid the idea of memorizing things

Although most of us were unfortunately taught to regurgitate information back in school, the same concept shouldn’t apply to coding. Coding is all about understanding the idea rather than cramming in lines of code. There may be many different ways to code to solve a single problem. However, if you don’t understand the logic behind the code, it’ll be very hard to transfer the knowledge of that concept to a new problem. 

Depending on the structure of the code you are working with, simply copying and pasting the code you found elsewhere may not smoothly fit into the entire solution. What you end up with is franken-code!

Set milestones

Along the same lines as defining your goals, you also want to set challenging, but achievable milestones. In order to keep up your learning process, it’s important to build the habit of learning how to code. If you are self-learning, it might be setting a strict schedule after school to dedicate an hour to code. If you are in a bootcamp, it’s ensuring you are finishing all assignments before the deadline so you have time to review your solutions. Milestones also help reinforce the feeling of accomplishment so that you continue hitting targets. Learning how to code is challenging but totally doable! If you’ve decided on this journey to learn how to code, we hope our resources can help along the way.

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