Programming is one of the most valuable skills you can build. If you’re looking to learn to code, maybe it’s because you want to advance your career.
Maybe you wish you could make software or games for your friends, or be better at technology. After all, learning a computer language can be a great asset to your professional and personal development.
With time, dedication, and internet access, anyone can learn to code. If you are reading this, you are included. That’s why in this guide we’ll break down everything you need to know to start writing code.
What is coding?
Coding is the process of using a programming language to give instructions to a computer. These instructions support the daily websites, software, and applications people use.
Why learn to code?
Before you jump into your first lesson, think about why you want to program in the first place.
This allows you to decide which programming language you want to learn first, what type of project you want to complete, and finally what you want to do with your skills.
Here are some of the known benefits:
Programming helps build professional skills.
Let’s get rid of the obvious. Computer programming skills are a valuable asset for the job.
As technology continues to permeate our everyday lives, coding skills are becoming more desirable to applicants–according to the Indeed.com job board. Some of the most in-demand skills fall into computer science.
If you are pursuing a career in technology or wish to move into a more technical role in your field, proficiency in at least one relevant programming language is a must.
Even if you are running a basic WordPress website, familiarity with the front-end language and a bit of PHP is essential.
Even if you don’t have a purely technical role, programming experience is an advantage. It demonstrates technical knowledge, and the ability to understand abstract concepts and solve complex problems.
Finally, with programming skills, you can start a freelance or full-time career.
Coding can help you earn more.
The median starting salary in the US in 2022 is $40,153. But the median starting salary for a programmer is more than double that of $85,293.
We have already mentioned that there is a difference between a programmer. As you become more familiar with programming, you can begin to specialize. Many of the highest coding salaries come from your ability to offer your expertise in certain types of coding.
For example, if you continue to code, you may decide to become a developer. Apart from writing code, developers also debug software and work with source code. Developers usually specialize in a particular programming language.
Developers often earn higher salaries than programmers and have high job growth projections. They projected developer employment to grow 22% through 2030, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Coding lets you create things
One of the biggest benefits of learning to code is the ability to put your ideas into action. Do you have a concept for a website, application, or computer game? Now you can build it exactly the way you want and then share it with the world.
Whether you want to monetize your project, publish it on an open-source platform like GitHub, or just do it as a hobby, you have the knowledge and tools to do it.
It’s nice to know that you can create programs that you didn’t fully understand before. In addition, the project is very important for the learning process and job search.
Programming can help you better understand the world around you.
Even learning the basics of computer programming will help you understand the components of the evolving technology landscape.
You gain a new perspective on technology in your life and an appreciation of how it all fits together.
Coding is fun
Weird but true – for many, learning to code is a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Once you’ve learned the basics and started your own original project, the process will feel less like learning and more like free time. After all, if you don’t like it, why are you making it a career?
How to start coding?
- Find out why you want to learn to code.
- Choose which programming language you want to learn first.
- Take online courses.
- Watch video tutorials.
- Read books and e-books.
- Use tools that make learning to code easier.
- See how other people to code.
- The programming project is complete.
- Find mentors and communities.
- Consider enrolling in a coding boot camp.
Thanks to the internet, there has never been a better time to learn to code. But the sheer number of choices can stop some new programmers before they even get started.
In this section, we’ll look at how to learn to program for beginners, with some recommended resources for each step.
1. Find out why you want to learn to code.
It’s tempting to jump right in when you start coding. But if you don’t have an end goal, you may get frustrated and stop learning before you have fun.
So before you start learning, think about why you want to know how to code. Think about the project you want to complete, why you are happy with this skill, and the resources available to you.
Suppose you want to become a developer to earn more income for your family. Do you know where you want to work and what projects they need developers for? Are you willing to put in the time to learn to code, learn the right programming language, and create a project that shows you have what it takes?
Setting broad goals can be very frustrating. Instead, start with smaller, more specific goals. Suppose you want to create a mobile app for your friend who trains for a half marathon in a year.
This goal will:
Help build the skills needed
To give you an idea of what programming language to use
Set deadlines so you can manage your time while studying.
2. Choose which programming language you want to learn first
When figuring out which programming language to use, consider your long-term goals. Do you code for fun or to get ahead at work? Do you have a flexible schedule or need to finish a project in a hurry?
As a beginner, you may want to start with a language that doesn’t use data structures or algorithms. If that’s the case, HTML or CSS is a good place to start. But languages like Java and Python are also ideal for beginners and have a wide range of applications.
Sometimes it can take months to learn a programming language, so give yourself time to make this decision to make sure your time is well spent.
3. Take online courses
Learning to code no longer requires a classroom environment. Today there are thousands of online programming courses covering everything from basic HTML to data structures to complex algorithms.
Your first course should introduce the basics of the language and contain interactive modules and assignments to guide you as you learn.
Courses create a structure for learning, which is important because concepts in computer science build on each other. Organized classes make things easy to digest and make sure you learn things in the right order.
Popular free course providers are:
This option is great for determining early on whether you’re willing to invest the time in learning a particular language.
There are also many paid courses available for a fraction of the cost of face-to-face courses
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4. Watch video tutorials
You’ve probably seen a tutorial or two on YouTube – why not do the same for programming?
While online courses are your best choice for hands-on experience, online videos can complement your learning and stimulate your curiosity. My personal favorites include:
Computer science intensive course
Tom Scott’s Basics
Both cover a wider range of topics in computer technology.
5. Read books and e-books
Do you prefer the old-school approach? Get a beginner’s book in the language of your choice. The books will introduce you to the basic concepts and educate you on your coding.
Here are some established texts for each recommended beginner language:
- HTML/CSS: The Beginner’s Guide to HTML and CSS for Marketers
- Python: Python Crash Course
- C: C Programming Absolute Beginner’s Guide
- C++: C++ Primer
- C#: C# 8.0 and .NET Core 3.0 – Modern cross-platform development: Build applications with C#
- Java: Effective Java
- PHP: Head First PHP & MySQL
- Ruby: The Well-Grounded Rubyist
- SQL: SQL in 10 minutes, Sams Teach Yourself
- Swift: Swift Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide
6. Use tools that make learning to code easier.
While it’s good to know that you don’t need any special tools to write code, some tools can help.
The text editor includes features that make coding easier, such as B. Color coding, auto-completion, find and replace, and dark mode.
Most professionals use code editors. This tool can help you write clean code faster. The code editor is like a text editor but has additional features to help you manage and edit your code, such as: for example:
Mark sentence order
Embedded terminal environment
You’ll also want to get to know your computer a little better. When you start programming, you need to learn how to navigate the console. This is a text interface for your operating system.
With the console, you can find files and execute commands faster than with a standard graphical user interface (GUI). Familiarize yourself with its use, including basic UNIX commands, because you will be doing things that are not possible in a GUI.
Many projects start out simple but become more complex as the project progresses. Project management tools let you share files, update graphics, and separate sections of coding projects. This makes it easy to keep track of side projects and additional files while sticking to your timeline.
As you work on programming projects, you may encounter bugs, bottlenecks, and other challenges. This can be very frustrating. Debugging Rubber Duck may sound silly, but it can help you simplify problems and find useful solutions.
7. See how other people code
Some people find it easier to edit other people’s work than to create on a blank page. If that’s you, you can learn to code by browsing other people’s code.
Reviewing other programmers’ code can also inspire you and improve your programming skills even further. This approach will help you:
Understand your own code better
Find new codes faster
Provide a specific example of quality coding
Start with a program or code file that you like. If you’re not sure what code to start with, GitHub and Code Search is a great places to start. Try to start with peer-reviewed code or an open-source project if you can.
If you know what the code is doing, select a small section and then work on it again. This will help you understand the function of each line of code. It’s also a good idea to read the documentation. It shows the idea behind the code you are reviewing.
8. Complete the coding project
You learn to program by doing it – there’s no other way. You can read all the concepts and syntax needed to write functional code.
But if you don’t put into practice what you’ve learned, the ideas in your head won’t fully materialize. That’s where the project comes in.
A project is any program (or website) created in the language of your choice. Keep short-term projects at the beginning.
When you take a course, it may give you a project designed to reinforce a concept. There are also many programming projects for beginners that you can try yourself. Some of the classic designs are:
A time converter where the user sends a few seconds and your program returns the equivalent in hours, minutes, days, etc.
A random number generator generates a random number between two user-defined values.
A calculator in which the user provides input and mathematical operations, and your program generates the results.
Address book where users can send contact names and then search for contacts stored in your program.
Alphabetizer, where the user provides a list of words, and your program sorts them alphabetically.
A puzzle game where the user tries to guess the hidden word by typing the letters and your game provides feedback on the correct or incorrect guess. If the user guesses all the letters of your comment, he wins.
A quick Google search will reveal more small challenges that require you to apply your skills to real-world problems.
Coding project benefits
In addition to practicing concepts, projects provide two other benefits for your learning.
First, they keep you motivated. Projects help reinforce the “why” behind your coding and establish clear, tangible metrics for your progress. Every completed project means another skill. When I study, it is very exhilarating.
Second, coding projects, especially long-term ones, give you something to show for your work. Putting “Python” on your resume is one thing—it’s another to show that you’ve built an entire website or app from scratch.
Projects are a must for entry-level programming jobs as they demonstrate proficiency in a particular language.
How to stay motivated while programming
For long-term projects, think about the things you want to invest time in. Whether it’s a personal website, a mobile app, or a desktop tool, you’ll run into obstacles along the way. Choosing a project that you really like and care about will ensure that you will complete it.
Another great way to get involved with programming projects is through freelance work. You don’t have to be an experienced programmer to build a useful tool for someone. Connect with friends, family members, or local businesses that need a tool or website – it’s a win-win.
9. Find mentors and community
All the resources I’ve listed so far are valuable, but most are individual efforts. Having friends or online communities to provide additional guidance can be invaluable to your learning.
First, I recommend finding a mentor. As you progress, you will most likely encounter problems that, no matter how hard you try, you cannot solve them. This is where a mentor can help.
Mentors don’t have to be real teachers – they can be anyone who speaks your language. They should be able to explain complex concepts and point you to two solutions. An experienced mentor can help you follow coding practices not covered in the tutorial and offer advice for a career in technology.
You may also want to join a community. Find local groups, networking events and meetups near you, and hackathons where you can meet other developers face-to-face.
The online developer community is also a rich resource for beginners.
Stack Overflow is a forum site for programming questions and discussions.
GitHub is a code repository for open-source projects with an active developer community.
Women Who Code is a non-profit organization that organizes events, communities, and job openings for women pursuing careers in technology.
r/learn programming, a subreddit (microsite reddit.com) for novice programmers.
10. Consider signing up for a coding boot camp
A coding boot camp is a short-term training program that includes a comprehensive coding curriculum for several months. These programs are fast-paced, exciting, and a starting point for career development.
Coding boot camps are intense and expensive—not something to learn without coding experience.
It primarily aimed these programs at entry-level individuals who wish to pursue a career in development and are willing to invest time, energy, and money to quickly acquire the required skills.
While graduates are likely to find work in the tech industry, understand that this is not a guaranteed outcome. You will set aside a reasonable portion of the year and your life savings for such activities. However, it’s hard to stay on top in a face-to-face learning environment surrounded by peers and teachers who are just as motivated as you are.