How to learn to code – How Do We Define “Learning to Code”?
So, you’ve decided to accept the challenge of learning to code.
As with any long-term investment, you’ve probably considered at least three questions: “How much will it cost?”, “What are the benefits?”, and finally, “How long will it take?”
Before attempting to calculate how long it takes, we should probably start by asking you a fourth question: “What does it mean to ‘learn how to code’?”
For some, learning to code may mean knowing how to write a mobile app from scratch, obtaining the skills to land a job as a full-time developer, or simply being able to write basic lines of code for a personal project. Depending on how you define “knowing how to code”, your timeframe can vary widely.
The time it takes you to learn to code will also be dependent on a few other factors, such as:
- Difficulty of Programming Language
- Learning Methods
- Learning Pace & Intensity
- Previous Knowledge and Background
Let’s take a look at how these factors can affect the time it will take you to learn how to code.
The Programming Language
Not all programming languages were created equal—and that’s actually a good thing.
While not technically programming languages, HTML and CSS are extremely useful and much easier to learn. Even with just a few weeks of intense study, you can get a really good grasp on these languages and know how to use them at a basic level.
In other words, you can start a professional coding career with just two easy-to-learn languages and one intermediate language.
More advanced languages, such as Java and C++, can take many years to learn and a lifetime to master. Even for professional developers with over a decade of experience in these languages, it is still an ongoing process to become a true expert.
The Learning Method
There are many options available to those who want to learn how to code. The most traditional option would be a university program, with coding bootcamps and online schools providing a great alternative.
In a university program, you’ll receive an extensive education that covers topics in high-level mathematics, electronics, and more. However, you’ll also spend most of the time learning concepts—not tech skills, necessarily.
You’ll still have to invest your personal time to learn a particular language and it will still take anywhere from 4 to 5 years to graduate with your degree.
So, if your main goal is to learn how to program as fast as possible, getting a degree in Computer Science is probably not the right choice for you.
A popular alternative to taking traditional courses is attending a coding bootcamp. These ultra-intensive programs treat learning how to code like a military bootcamp and try to accelerate the process.
They tend to last around 3 months and teach you what you need to know to get your first job. For quick learners with great memory retention, you’ll do great in a coding bootcamp. If you take longer to learn than the average person, however, you might want to look for another option.
This leads us to online courses. Online courses strike a healthy balance between accelerated learning and sustained learning. In English, this means learning at a steady pace that stimulates the brain without overwhelming it.
Unlike a university program or coding bootcamp, an online course allows you to take lessons as your schedule—or your brain—allows. To complete an online course, you can expect to take anywhere from 3-6 months.
Learning Frequency & Intensity
Learning how to code is remarkably similar to learning a second language. If you’ve ever had the privilege of learning another language, you may have noticed that the frequency and intensity of your studies affected your learning retention.
Studying too much new vocabulary and grammar in one session can overwhelm you and cause you to easily forget what you’ve learned. Studying too little and not getting enough practice, on the other hand, fails to impress the new information upon your mind. This is what we call learning intensity.
Learning frequency refers to how often you study or practice what you’ve learned. Are you taking your coding courses daily, weekly, or monthly? In addition to intense learning sessions, you’ll need to have them frequently to keep your mind fresh.
Therefore, maintaining optimal learning frequency and intensity will directly affect how long it takes to learn to code. If the frequency or intensity of your study sessions is too high or too low, you’ll find yourself forgetting what you’ve learned and going over the same material again and again.
This, of course, slows down the learning process.
Previous Knowledge and Background
Believe it or not, that programming course you took 10 or 20 years ago may actually help you learn to code, today. The human mind has the incredible ability to store up old memories and knowledge that you may have once believed was lost.
To use a personal example, I was able to learn HTML extremely quickly thanks to fundamentals I remembered in a high school course. I hadn’t written HTML in nearly 10 years, but somehow my memory came flooding back when I started typing.
If you’ve recently learned or are currently using a programming language, those fundamentals will help you learn the next one even quicker. Think back to our example of a second language. If you already know French, learning another Romance language will be significantly easier the second time.
Your Short-Term Goals
Like we mentioned at the beginning of the article, “learning to code” can mean a variety of things. If your goal is to write code for something small like a website for your wedding or a personal project, it may only take you a few weeks to accomplish.
Getting your first job as a developer, on the other hand, will most likely take you between 150 and 200 hours of practice (3-4 months in an intensive bootcamp).
A large number of factors go into determining how long it will take you to learn to code. Your personal definition of learning to code, your learning method, your learning intensity and frequency, and your previous experience with coding.
As well as providing you with the most flexibility and freedom, online courses strike a balance between the concentrated curriculum of a coding bootcamp and the overly conceptual courses you’ll find in a university program. Online courses allow you to learn at the pace which suits you best.
These will give you the tools with which you’ll be able to build for the web, and then you’ll be on your way to a successful career in programming.
In CodeBerry Programming School’s “Basics of Programming” series, we discuss programming-related topics and everything you need to know to get started. Stay tuned for new articles and find the answer to every “what”, “why”, and “how”, you may have had about coding!
Basics of Programming
- Basics of Programming
- A Brief Introduction to Programming
- Why You Should Learn Programming
- How much can you make as a programmer?
- How to learn to code?
- Which programming language is good for you?
- How Long It Takes to Learn to Code
- How to find the right beginner programming course for you?
Would you like to learn how to code, online? Come and try our first 25 lessons for free at the CodeBerry Programming School.