Learning to code seems to be an ambition that has become as popular as going to the gym more often. Everyone is getting in on the action, and that’s because it’s a fantastic personal investment. Picking up a programming language can lead to better job opportunities, better pay, a new way of thinking about and solving problems, and a source of aesthetic experience.
With this enthusiasm, has come a variety of learning resources that is just staggering. There are more books, Youtube videos, paid courses, online coding bootcamps, and classes than you could possibly finish if you lived a hundred years.
A popular learning strategy is to stick to online resources, like Coursera, Udacity, and others. There are several advantages and disadvantages to this approach, and Career Karma has put in the time to help you figure out if this is a good solution for you.
Should I Learn to Code Online?
Answering this question boils down to figuring out what your constraints are and how you learn best.
Advantages of Learning to Code Online:
- Flexibility — You can learn pretty much whenever you want to.
- Price — Online courses can be expensive, but they’re generally a lot cheaper than a college class, private tutoring, or all the textbooks you’d need to cover the same material.
- Interactivity — You can’t learn to code unless you actually write code, and while reading or listening to lectures, it’s all too easy to skip this part.
Disadvantages of Learning to Code Online:
- Mixed Quality — There are definitely bad textbooks and college courses, but there’s also a lot of vetting that occurs before a person can teach at a college or put out a textbook. Pretty much anyone can toss out a programming course.
- Lack of Structure — As a beginner learning to code, it can be difficult to know what order to approach different subjects. For all the expense and hassle, a four-year degree does at least lay out a clear, unambiguous learning path, and that’s worth something.
So, how well do you think you can do given this mix of pros and cons? If you choose to stick to online resources, you’ll need to make sure they’re high-quality–preferably recommended by professionals in the field. Also, be sure they offer a clear progression of ideas, involve lots of hands-on project building, and provide access to instructors, teachers, or peers that can answer your questions.
So, How Long Will It Take to Learn to Code Online?
How long it takes to learn to code online will depend on how much time you put into it. If you consistently code for one hour a day, it will probably take at least a year for you to acquire any reasonable skill. You can cut this down considerably if you also spend a full day each week working on a serious learning project.
If you manage to spend three or four hours a day coding, there’s a real chance you could get a basic entry-level job in eight months. Again, you could likely cut this down to six months if you spend five hours a day coding.
And all of this is assuming no experience. If you programmed a bit in college or do so occasionally as a hobby, you’ll get there far faster.