Coding is for everyone, no matter where you live, how old you are, what you studied in school, or what you do for work.
There are many reasons people learn how to code, including clearer thinking, improved problem-solving skills, increased career prospects, and earning potential. But if you’ve never written code, it can be hard to figure out where to start.
We’ve written this post to help you — and everyone else like you — get started. Grab a drink, come on in, and read on.
Choose a Programming Language
There are many programming languages to choose from, each with its own set of pros, cons, and uses.
Or do you want to become a hardcore programmer? The C++ programming language is best for Linux, C# for Windows, and Objective-C for macOS. In the world of mobile, Java is for Android apps and Swift is for iOS apps.
Ultimately, the best programming language for you will depend on your goals and interests. If you want to become a programmer and earn your living by writing code, it’s important to consider what the job market for every language looks like. Not all programming languages are the same, and there’s more demand for developers who know some than others.
If you don’t know the answers to all of these questions yet, it’s perfectly okay to try out a few different languages before you decide on the one that’s right for you.
Find Resources to Help You Learn
You don’t need a Computer Science degree to learn how to code. There are many resources available to help you teach it to yourself, including tutorials at websites, YouTube videos, books, courses, and bootcamps.
The best starting point for every language is its official website. Say you want to learn Python. Go to python.org and look at the “Documentation” section. You will see a “Beginner’s Guide” and a “Developer’s Guide” to Python. Set aside some time, find somewhere quiet, and start reading and writing code by following along.
Check out: How to Start Learning Python
The more time you can spend learning a programming language, the better. If you’re a working parent, you’ll probably want to start with the tutorials at websites, a few YouTube channels, and a book. But if you can sign up for a course or go to a coding bootcamp, more power to you!
Coding bootcamps are almost guaranteed to teach you programming (and, if that’s what you want, land you a job). But they can be expensive, with some costing thousands of dollars and taking months to a year to complete. Self-paced courses are often more affordable, with most charging one to a few hundred dollars and giving you lifetime access. Some are even free.
If you want a more structured learning environment and want extra support, a coding bootcamp may be for you. If you want to learn on your own, an online course may be better.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The best way to learn how to code is to actually start coding.
Write small programs to try out different features and get to know the ins and outs of the language you’re learning. Find a website, form, or app with coding challenges, then pour yourself a cup of coffee, roll up your sleeves, and get down to solving them.
If you’re in college or have some time on your hands, find an internship. Or, if you can’t, ask a friend who knows programming if you can apprentice under them. Offer to help them out with their work in exchange for something they value.
What’s great about programming is that it allows you to be creative in ways you couldn’t even imagine before. Scratch your own itch! Build the alarm clock, to-do list, or unit converter of your dreams. Surprise your spouse with a fake website or code something cool for your kids. The options are virtually limitless.
Join a Programming Community
One of the best ways to stay motivated and continue learning is to join a community of like-minded individuals. Look for local meetups where you can connect with other people who are also learning to code.
If you’re an introvert as I am, and you prefer to do your communication online, here’s a list of some of my favorite programming communities:
- Stack Overflow: Stack Overflow is a question and answer site for programmers where you can ask and answer questions about coding. It’s a great resource for getting help with specific problems or questions.
- Reddit: There are many programming-related subreddits where you can connect with other programmers and discuss a wide range of topics. Some popular options include r/learnprogramming, r/coding, and r/programming.
- GitHub: GitHub is a platform for developers to share and collaborate on code. It’s a great resource for finding and contributing to open source projects, as well as connecting with other developers.
- Indie Hackers: Indie Hackers is a community for entrepreneurial developers. It has a forum where you can connect with other freelancers and discuss a wide range of topics.
- Hacker News: Hacker News is where developers — and tech people in general — get their news and gossip from.
These communities offer a wide range of resources and support for developers, including forums, groups, and resources for learning and staying up-to-date on industry news. Add them to your bookmarks to stay up to date and connect with others on the same level as you.
Everyone can learn how to code, and some think everyone should.
However, not all programming languages are created equal. Select the language that’s right for your goals and interests, then get started and practice, practice, practice.
Online courses or coding bootcamps are best, but you can learn even by reading tutorials and watching YouTube videos.