How To Learn To Code If You're Not Sure Where To Begin

If you are new to web development, here are four tips about how you can learn to code. Web development is a quickly growing field. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, web development job opportunities will grow 27% by 2024.

If you are moving to web development from another field and have never coded before, it can be overwhelming to know what language you should pursue first or how to learn. To avoid wasting your time and hard-earned money learning the wrong languages or developing bad habits, use these four tips to get started and learn web development:

1. Know what languages you need to learn

This is the most important step in your journey to become a web developer. Throughout the years, hundreds of programming languages have risen to popularity and then quickly died off. Others have weathered various trials and have become essential languages that any successful developer must know. It's important to know what languages are relevant and essential for you.

Based on the TIOBE Index for March 2017, the top 10 most popular programming languages at the moment include Java, C, C++, C#, Python, Visual Basic .NET, PHP, JavaScript, Delphi/Object Pascal and Perl. Other languages that made the top 20 are Ruby, Perl and R. Now, you don't have to learn every single one of these languages right away. Depending on what you want to do, you might not even use most of these during your career.

Many programmers suggest learning JavaScript first. It's one of the most popular languages for web platforms, and is frequently used in coding mobile apps as well. It's versatile, makes debugging simple and is highly in-demand at the moment. There are plenty of free and low-cost resources available online to get you started learning this language. If you’re seeking a social and structured environment to hold you accountable while you learn, we teach JavaScript at Startup Institute, as well as Ruby on Rails, which is a great language for beginners because it enables developers to build products more quickly compared to other languages.

2. Separate fiction from reality

You likely have heard — and believed — several myths about web development. It's important to understand what is fact and fiction before you decide to make the jump. One of the first myths you might have heard circulating is that only geniuses and those who have been coding since they were kids can succeed in web development.

Another thought that you might have considered is that you will never be able to catch up. If you are making the switch from an unrelated career, it can be intimidating to try to catch up with those who have been in the industry for years. The secret is that web development is always changing; every coder is constantly learning new skills. As long as you learn the fundamentals and hone your skills, you won't feel far behind.

3. Learn from a variety of different mediums

Buy books, read blogs, learn from others, use free online learning programs, enroll in a coding booamp, and seek out mentorship to continually improve your skills. Essentially, learning to code is all about immersing yourself in every aspect of the field. Start with books and online resources to gain a firm basis on necessary terminology. Then use high-quality, credible online tutorials to dip your toes into using the language.

You also want to surround yourself with coders, mentors and solid examples of good code. One of the best ways to learn a new skill is to watch someone else. Your coding partner may be able to explain certain terms, issues or best practices to keep you on track for success.

Finally, if you want to devote your time specifically to learning how to code, you should seriously consider enrolling in a web development program or booamp. Our web development course at Startup Institute is more targeted and fast-paced than a university degree program, which is perfect for the quickly evolving web development environment. Decide for yourself if an online or in-person learning course is right for you. There isn't a single right way to learn to code, and it’s important to know what your ideal learning environment may be before signing up.  

4. Understand that tech changes at a rapid pace

Before you decide to devote all your energy to one language, remember that tech is always evolving. Developers must learn quickly on the job and sometimes, with little guidance.  You should never stop learning as a web developer.

After all, the app economy didn't really exist until the first iPhone release in 2007, and while researchers have been trying to invent autonomous vehicles for decades, it wasn't until the last few years that such technology became a reality. One day you may be working on what is supposed to be the biggest, most exciting new product, only to switch your focus and devote energy to something else for the next. The point is that you should always keep learning and honing your skills, especially in the area of coding. The more you expand your repertoire of skills, the more valuable you will be for your organization.

If you are looking for the best way to learn web development, consider enrolling in our web development program. While computer science degrees provide you with a theoretical background into the field, you won't receive quite the level of hands-on training and positive learning environment as you would in Startup Institute courses. Enroll today to see how our courses can help you reach your unique career goals.