So you want to learn to code in the new year? Congratulations on taking the first big step to learn a new skill and change your career path. Learning to code can seem like a daunting task, but with a little planning, you can set yourself up for a successful education.
So… how long does it take to learn coding? Where should I start? Which programming languages are most important? Should I learn on my own or through a coding bootcamp?
These basic questions are enough to make your head spin. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’ve come to the right place. At Kenzie, we believe anyone can learn to code if they’re dedicated, hardworking, and willing to put in the time and effort. Sound like you? If so, read on for tips and tricks on the learning process.
Today, we’ll explore the following questions:
- How long does it take to learn coding from scratch?
- How can I measure my progress?
- How can I teach myself to code?
- Should I sign up for a coding bootcamp?
How long does it take to learn coding from scratch?
First things first. How long it takes to learn to code will depend on a few different factors: the learning method you choose, how often you plan to practice, and which coding languages and skills you want to learn.
Methods over matter
There are 3 major methods to learn how to code. These methods include:
- Self-study (6-12 months)
- Coding bootcamps (3-9 months)
- Traditional degree programs (2-4 years)
Whatever method you choose will influence the amount of time it takes you to learn to code.
Self-study typically takes around 6-12 months of consistent practice to get a good level of understanding of code. Self-study has its own benefits and challenges, as you’re learning on your own. This means you can study on your own time and with the resources you deem most helpful to your individual learning style. However, it also requires a high level of self-discipline if you want to be successful. You’ll be responsible for setting aside time each week to teach yourself, practice, and troubleshoot within a programming language.
Traditional degree programs
Traditional degree programs in computer science will teach you how to code really well; however, these programs can take between 2 and 4 years to complete. While a traditional associate’s or bachelor’s degree program in computer science will provide all of the support that comes with attending a college or university (career services, social groups, associations, and clubs), it’s the most time-consuming and expensive way to learn to code.
The cost of 4-year college has steadily risen for decades, leaving many students unsure if their computer science degrees will ultimately pay off or leave them drowning in debt. Additionally, most university programs are full-time and require students to take extra classes that aren’t necessary for landing a job in tech. Meanwhile, self-study and bootcamp learning methods could have you in the workforce and earning money within 6 to 12 months.
Coding bootcamps can teach you how to code in anywhere from 3-9 months, depending on program length and quality (and your own learning style). Coding bootcamps come with many benefits and are transforming the way people think about technical education. Web development certification programs often come with much of the same support you’d get from a traditional degree program, but at a fraction of the time and cost. You can typically pursue learning to code full-time or part-time in these programs.
At Kenzie Academy, our Placement Team offers career development and support to students as they job search. They work one-on-one with students on interview prep, resume review, and more. They also work directly with Employer Partners to match our graduates with tech jobs.
Additionally, our Student Services team supports students on their journey from enrollment to graduation. Academic Advisors meet with students to talk about their progress and to assist them with any needs that may arise in or out of the classroom that may affect learning outcomes. Students can also get additional study help throughout the course from coaches and instructors.
Similar to self-study, learning to code through a coding bootcamp requires a certain level of self-discipline. Students need to be extremely dedicated to their goal, otherwise, they risk failing out and wasting their time and money. So while bootcamps offer you support, you’ll need to bring your A-game if you truly want to be successful in the art of coding. If you’re up for the challenge, learn more about how you can become a programmer through Kenzie Academy’s Software Engineering course.
Practice makes perfect
How long will you spend practicing your code each week? It’s a good idea to set aside blocks of time to work on your code. This allows you to focus more deeply than you would if you decided to practice for 30 minutes or an hour each day. We recommend setting aside 5-15 hours each week outside of classwork to work on coding. This will allow you to take the concepts you’ve learned in a bootcamp, self-directed course, or college class and apply them to real-life projects and situations. Your practice time will reveal what concepts and languages come easy to you and which ones you need to spend more time on.
Pick your poison
If you attend a bootcamp or traditional degree program, your course’s curriculum will direct you through the programming stack the institution currently teaches. At Kenzie, we teach the MERN stack. This stack will help you build technical and problem-solving knowledge while preparing you to enter the workforce and continue learning new languages. It serves as a solid foundation for any new programmer. Learn more about our 9-month Software Engineering program here.
How can I measure my progress?
Seeing your progress can help motivate you to keep learning and perfecting your code. Joe Erickson is the Senior Software Developer at Tech Elevator. In a recent blog post, he suggested that people create physical or digital reminders of their learning progress.
“Measuring programming progress is extremely hard to do,” Joe wrote on his blog. “It doesn’t come naturally to humans to measure progress of a mental skill. Programming is a very mental skill. It often feels like nothing is happening and–since we move on to new topics every day–that you’re constantly behind everyone else. Physical skills are much easier to judge. You can see yourself getting better at painting. You can see your woodworking getting better. That pile of wood you are chopping is dwindling while the pile of chopped wood is stacking up. Visible progress!”
In order to create a physical reminder of your learning accomplishments, you could use a website like Trello to track progress on different projects.
How can I teach myself to code?
Should I sign up for a coding bootcamp?
Coding bootcamps can be time and cost-effective places to learn to code. You’ll have academic support and (often) career support on your journey too. Many tech companies are becoming more and more open to non-traditional means of education. This means coding bootcamp grads are landing tech jobs that have traditionally been reserved for degree-holders.
As a coding bootcamp student, you’ll learn to code in anywhere from 3-9 months with instructors and coaches to help you through the process. You’ll graduate with a portfolio of projects to show off to potential employers too. Kenzie Academy, and some other tech schools, offer assistance on your job search. At Kenzie, we connect our graduates with Employer Partners, help with resume writing, and conduct interview practice. Our Placement Team offers you both technical and emotional support on your journey to becoming a tech professional.
Keep in mind that not all bootcamps are created equal and some programs may prove to be more helpful in setting you up for success than others. Do your research, read reviews from alumni, and check out each school’s statistics for graduate hiring outcomes.
Software Engineering at Kenzie Academy
- What is a Full Stack Web Developer?
- Web Designer vs. Web Developer: What’s the Difference?
- 5 Ways to Start Coding Today
- How to Start a Tech Career Right Now