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How Long Does it Take to Learn to Code? – Things to Know Before Starting

Written by: Zubayr


Everyone who is now a seasoned coder started out on the same path: they were beginners with zero knowledge and they know it can be very frustrating during the initial stages. Many people tend to give up easily when they start learning to code. It can be overwhelming and unbearable at times.

We understand that if you want to invest your time and resources into learning a new skill, there has to be a significant payoff, and coding is one of these opportunities. You can add a new skill to your repertoire, become a freelancer, make your own hours, and be your own boss, all while having comfortable earnings. The big question for many who are interested in coding is, “How long does it take to learn to code?”

How Long Does it Take to Learn to Code?

There is no definite answer, and any number can easily be disputed by others. A Google search of the question will give you “3-6 months” as the answer, but even that is dependent on the website where the information is taken from. Search results also range anywhere from 20 to 10,000 hours. If you do not have time to become a programmer, consider hiring one. Your best option would be hiring a dev shop.

Learning the Basics

Learning to code is like learning a new language: there are layers and sublayers. You first need to learn basic vocabulary before you move on to combining words to make phrases.

In programming, you first try your hand at accessing files, screens, or similar tasks (and you will most likely do it in a rough way). And then the logical next step is to learn proper structures and concepts such as testing variables and checking logic. Eventually, when you are comfortable enough with your fundamentals, you then move on to coding styles and standards.

In language, you learn about writing in different styles and for different audiences, such as for the news, creative writing, technical writing, etc. In programming, the equivalent would be writing code for certain industries, mastering a language, and even choosing a specialty such as web applications, web pages, cloud, mobile, etc. Most people just focus on one or two of these so they can hone in on their specialties.

The Basics: Three Months

Coding is a subjective process; that is, it depends on the person and the road they take to learning it. Tech careers are all about flexibility, so there is no one strict path you need to follow.  The learning curve will depend on your technical understanding, prior knowledge, goals, and aspirations. Becoming a freelance Python programmer and becoming a senior software engineer are different paths, which means the amount of time, learning, and experience needed vary. This is encouraging news for new learners as it means you can choose an IT role based on the path and lifestyle you want.

The shortest amount of time to learn to code is three months — and this is only for the basics of coding. Of course, this would mean you need to dedicate several hours per day to study and read up. If you are serious about wanting to learn quickly, a good approach is to join a reputable coding bootcamp where you get to learn by doing, and not just reading. This is also a good way to start as a junior developer where you can then learn the most current and sought-after tech skills in just a couple of months.

The Hands-on Approach

Most experts also agree that more than thinking about timelines and reading blogs, one of the most effective approaches to learning how to code is just getting started — in whatever format works for you.

Be it joining online communities, taking an online course, joining a bootcamp, or something else, investing your time in these options gets your foot on the door towards starting a career in programming. After that, you can take bigger steps into growing your skill set while getting paid.

Some online coding courses, if taken seriously and intensively, can teach you a little more than the basics in about 8- to 12-weeks, and even allows you the option to focus on WordPress or UI/UX as a specialty.

Regardless of what path you take, a crucial component here is choosing the best method and schedule that works for you. Choose one that you are comfortable with, and then take the next step forward; if you force yourself to dive in immediately without the fundamentals, you will likely get confused and are setting yourself up to fail. Try a hands-on approach so you can learn to speak coding language in a more practical manner.

A Lifetime of Learning

In many ways, one could say learning to code is a lifetime endeavor. Just as we continue to learn about things as we go, the same goes for programming, especially since the IT world is constantly changing with new technology and developments every few months or so. But as the months and years go on, the “learning” turns into finding your groove and style, and then mastering your chosen specialization, be it for web, mobile, or cloud apps, or anything in between.

Even the most seasoned professionals in IT and programming are constantly learning. As the industry continues to evolve, so should your skills.

It is not that difficult to go from ‘knowing nothing’ to ‘having the basics for beginners’, and once you have the fundamentals, you will be in a strong position to grow and constantly hone your programming skills and specialization. If you are trying to learn coding while having a different background (such as digital marketing, SEO, or some other non-programming-related experience), this opens up several doors to a new career and a lifetime of learning, challenges, and self-improvement. This does not apply, however, to enterprise software development. Writing enterprise-grade software is way more difficult and requires more knowledge.

Things to Know Before You Start Learning to Code

When you start learning how to code, your time and resources are valuable; you will not want to waste any of it. As a beginner, however, it can be easy to feel confused as there might seem a lot you need to know in a short amount of time. So, to make your learning as smooth, easy, and productive as possible, here are some of the top things you need to know before you start programming.

1. You Learn by Doing

The only way to get better at coding and to learn the language syntax is to actually code. Do not let fear of making mistakes or running into bugs/errors prevent you from starting.

2. It is More of Understanding Rather than Memorizing

Learning how to code is not like studying for an exam. You do not need to memorize lines of codes. It is more of understanding functions; that “inputting this does that”.

3. Have a Goal

What do you want to achieve with coding? — have a specific but well-rounded answer to that and you will make your learning journey a whole lot easier. “To learn programming” is not specific enough; you need to think about long-term goals.

When you have mastered enough aspects of programming, do you want to have it as a side job? Do you want to transition into a full-time programmer?

Defining a long-term goal from Day 1 of your learning will help you stay on the right path especially at times when you feel confused or overwhelmed.

4. It Will Take Time and Effort

Can you balance coursework, your current job (or activities), and life work. There are a lot of online courses that can fit into a busy life, but if your schedule is almost full, you need to look long and hard at whether you can take on a few extra hours every week for studying.

5. Get All the Help You Can Get

Many of the top programmers today turn to Google, as well as several tools, on a regular basis to make their work easier. Of course, you will need to write most of the code yourself, but if you get stuck, you can always use the tools at your disposal. This saves you valuable time in trying to fix something yourself.

6. Find Your Motivation

You will be doing a huge part of the learning process alone, so most of the time, you will have to learn to push yourself through these hard times.

This also includes finding a way of learning that works for you best. For those who love to study alone, maybe books and online courses are the best way forward. For those who learn better in a group, maybe find a work group you can join and team up with like-minded learners.

If you are not sure, try different ways of learning first.

7. It is okay to make mistakes

As they say, one of the best ways to improve is to learn from your mistakes. Through trials and errors, you will learn what you should not do or how to do things better. It is a valuable lesson that you need to embrace, and even pass on to others whom you will mentor in the future.

8. Celebrate Small Wins

Seeing a project come to life thanks to the code you have written is always a cool experience, and it involves a lot of hard work. Pat yourself on the back every now and then. These small recognitions help keep you going.

9. Language Features and Libraries are Different

Programming nowadays is more about knowing how to use libraries (such as Java and C) rather than understanding and remembering the language. Libraries can be expansive, and the language will usually be compact. A good skill to have in learning to code is knowing how to search and use the libraries that will help accomplish the things you want to do.

10. Work on Meaningful Projects

There will be a lot of small and simple trial projects along the path of your learning, and this is good as it lets you put theory into practice. However, as you progress, and projects get bigger and more complicated, keep in mind that everything you build will reflect on your future job prospects.

This goes back to point #3 about your goals: work on meaningful projects that will build and strengthen your portfolio. Sharpen your skills so you can show future employers that you can solve their problems.

So, are you ready to learn coding?

Depending on your dedication, motivation, current knowledge, and availability, you could learn how to code in as little as three months. However, as with everything else, it will vary depending on the person.

The important thing to keep in mind here is however long it will take you, make sure you truly understand all the concepts you are studying and not just breezing through them to complete a course.

Give it a shot, sign up for online classes or a bootcamp, partner with professionals, and see how long it will take you to learn programming.

On the other hand, if you would like to hire professionals, take a look at DevsData LLC, who specify in premium IT recruitment and software development.

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