Want to learn a digital skill to progress your career? Learning to code is a great option and one with a high career ceiling (possibly limitless?).
If you’re just getting started on the path to learning to code, it can feel daunting. How long does it take to learn to code? How hard is coding to learn?
Just like any complex topic that you want to learn about or master, you can break it down into smaller pieces and tackle each of those in turn. You just need to be realistic about how much time you have to spend on learning and where that will take you in the long run.
We’ll take a look at just how long it takes to learn to code and what the time commitment may look like for you. In addition to that, we’ll discuss the milestones you can expect to hit as you learn to code and the real-world applications of what you’re learning.
Skills Needed to Learn Computer Coding
Coding is a skill you’ll have for life. There’s no limit to what can be automated by putting together lines of code in the right programming language. But when you’re just starting out, it can feel a little daunting. And no, coding is no longer just a job for nerds...
Below is a brief guide to the key skills you’ll need to bring to the table as you get a handle on coding for the first time.
Ability to learn code concepts – The basic skill required to become a coder is, simply put, your ability to learn and memorize code concepts. Coding involves learning computer languages such as Python, Java, C++, and HTML. It’s a fast-paced learning environment, and the world of computer languages is changing and evolving at a rapid pace.
Ability to adopt new technologies – Consider the video games that were popular in the 80s and 90s. Now, compare them with today’s graphic intensive video games run on hi-tech, advanced gaming consoles. It’s hard to comprehend the advancement in the level of coding and programming that led to such leaps from the older technologies. Everything is quicker, more user friendly, and more impressive today—and there is no knowing how things will seem a decade down the line.
To be an excellent coder, you need to be prepared to evolve with the times and keep abreast of what is in vogue in the tech world. You’ll need to keep an eye out for what is—or is about to become—obsolete, and change tack accordingly. Change is the name of the game. If you want to be successful and remain relevant in the field, you have to be able to keep up with new and emerging trends.
How can you learn coding fast?
Be clear about your goals
As you start to learn how to code and dive deeper into programming, you’ll start to discover more about the specific set of technical skills you’ll need to achieve your goal, whatever it might be. However, when you start, it’s best to start as simply as possible.
Understand how you learn best
There is no best way to learn to code.
- Some people love to watch YouTube videos and screencasts
- Some people like to immerse themselves in a book
- Some people want to figure it out by doing
- Some people need to read documentation from start to finish
- Some people learn best from having a mentor
- Some people might learn through coding boot camps
Some methods of learning will work extremely well for you, and others will be far less effective. Before you start learning to code, it’s worth understanding how you like to learn and shaping your learning journey around this method.
If you’re truly listening to yourself, you will do this naturally. If, however, you feel like there’s a right way to learn, or feel pressured to learn in a certain way, you might find yourself gravitating to learning methods that seem ‘correct’ or impressive but don’t work well for you.
Work on something that matters to you
When you’re learning to code, it’s easy to sink hours and hours into tutorials that don’t mean very much to you. You might be building toy programs like to-do lists or silly websites for something that doesn’t exist. While this is a good way to learn, it’s not very motivating. Alongside all the tutorials that will have you build something just to learn, it’s incredibly important to build something that matters to you.
If you’re learning how to make websites, make a website for yourself, or for someone you care about. If you’re learning to make a web app, practice by building a web app that solves a problem in your own life, no matter how small. If you’re learning to make games, start by creating a game that you yourself want to play. Having a personal project you care about and can apply your learnings to will be the single biggest thing that accelerates your learning and makes things stick.
It’s much better to practice regularly for 20 minutes each day than to do three hours once a fortnight. Consistency will help you to solidify what you learn and retain information. If the gaps between practice sessions are too long, you’ll forget things and lose the ability to do things that you had previously committed to muscle memory.
Track your progress
Learning to code can be a long journey, and it can be easy to forget how far you’ve come. Even after you’ve learned the fundamentals of programming, which is a fantastic achievement, it can still feel like there is so much you don’t know. That’s why it’s important to track your progress and reflect on what you’ve learned.
Every day, or every week, write a paragraph about what you learned that you didn’t know the day or week before. After a while, marking your progress with these little journal entries will help you appreciate how far you’ve come.
One thing that can slow down your progress when learning to code is never finishing things. After all, starting projects is fun! You get to pick and choose the parts you want to build, and the things you want to learn. If something is too hard, you leave it until later… but what if later never comes? You end up not getting enough practice by putting off challenging tasks until later. If you get into the habit of not finishing things, this can lead to gaps in your knowledge.
Remember: it’s better to finish just one thing than it is to start ten things and never finish any.
Error messages are your friend
One thing that goes hand-in-hand with learning to code is error messages! They’re those scary red screens and noisy pop-up boxes that tell us we’ve done something wrong in our code. When we see one of these, our first instinct is usually to navigate away from the error message as quickly as possible and start looking for a solution. But did we actually take the time to read it? If not, we might be missing out on a lot of helpful information. In fact, error messages can be awesome, because a lot of the time they tell us exactly what is wrong, and where. In fact, the worst thing we can do when we encounter an error message is to navigate away from it without reading it properly. So remember: error messages are your friend. They’re there to help you, not to punish you.
Where can you learn to code?
There are tons of places you can pick up the skills and learn to code whatever programming language at your own pace. One of the best places is Udemy. As the world’s biggest learning platform, Udemy offers a great selection of coding language courses to get your skills up to speed at your own pace.
Hopefully, this article has given you a better idea of how long it takes to learn coding, how hard is coding to learn, and the best ways to go about it.
With the growing demand for these skills in the job market, there’s never been a better time to learn to code. But before investing your time and money, make sure you thoroughly research your options.