Self-learning is technically free. There are some brilliant resources, communities, and courses available online. You can spend as much or as little as you want on extra resources like books or spend nothing at all and consume all the free info you can find. Sounds great, right? But here’s the rub: There’s nobody to keep you moving forward, so you’ve got to be hugely dedicated and motivated to gain all the skills you need for a successful career as a coder.
Is it possible? Absolutely. But it’s a hard path. Just picture this…
You’re currently employed in a job that grinds you down, but it pays the bills. You’ve just finished a 12-hour shift. You get home, eat dinner, put the kids to bed. You know you’ve got yet another exhausting 12-hour day ahead of you tomorrow, and all you can think about is unwinding and going to bed. But instead, you’ve got to force yourself to devote an hour or two to learning how to code. Are you motivated enough to do that day in, day out until you’ve gained enough knowledge and experience to land yourself a job in tech? Because that’s the reality. There’s no tutor to worry about and there’s no motivation to avoid embarrassing yourself in front of your classmates. If you don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. And we all know how easy it is to lose motivation, particularly if we’re tired or down in the dumps or we encounter a problem that we just can’t figure out.
There are some free self-paced courses that have a solid community element to help you out and to keep you motivated. These include Free Code Camp and Code Academy. Some also provide remote group projects so you get to experience working with other coders and so you can push one another forward. This method also allows you to network, which is an important element of landing your dream job.
What Can You Expect From Self-Learning?
Well, as mentioned, it’s not an easy path, but all the resources are there for you to succeed. Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits you can expect from teaching yourself how to code:
- You set your own schedule. You can fit your learning around life and work commitments and go as fast or as slow as you need to.
- You choose your own topics. There’s no set curriculum, so you get to pick and choose what you learn. If you don’t need to learn C++, you can skip that class and move on to Python, for example. Or, if you’re struggling with the way in which algorithms are being explained, you can easily go and find an extra tutorial to improve your understanding.
- Some companies, particularly start-ups, are often impressed by self-taught coders. They feel that a comprehensive portfolio and demonstrable skills and a strong history of self-learning show far more tenacity, passion, and motivation than a bootcamp or a degree.
- A goal. Do you want to be a web developer? A software engineer? Have you got an idea for a mind-blowing app? Establish what you want to accomplish by learning to code.
- A clear path for how to get there. Without a learning path, you’ll be hopping around all over the place, and there’s a fair chance you’ll miss crucial knowledge that you can’t progress without.
Coders, as a general rule, are known for their willingness to help and their philanthropy. They are a huge part of the “give back” movement. You’ll even find some who go out of their way to help, like the person who created self-learning pathways for others to follow to help them achieve their coding goals. So do your research and take the time to set yourself a firm curriculum before you dive in. You can always shuffle things around or add extras as you go along, but get the foundation right.
Who is Self-Learning Suitable For?
Anybody with an interest in learning to code who is self-disciplined and well-motivated or who has the desire and determination to really be the master (or mistress) of their own fate. If you lack motivation or have a tendency not to finish things by yourself, teaching yourself to code is not your thing. It’s a great option for those who have to continue to work full (or part) time while studying and those who have family commitments that don’t allow them to go back to school or to immerse themselves in a bootcamp for three months. If you don’t have the funds for one of the other options or you just want to learn an additional programming language or brush up on a few out-of-practice skills, teaching yourself to code is the smart choice.
USA Today reports that there are more than half a million open coding jobs but nowhere near enough applicants with the right skills to fill them. So the opportunity is there for you to land your dream job in tech, but you need to decide on the right learning path, follow it through, and dedicate plenty of time to building an amazing portfolio and supplementing your learning to impress potential employers. Check out our salaries tool to find out just how much you could be earning with your new career in tech. Use the Paysa job board to help you find your next gig, then follow up with our evaluate an offer tool to find out if that glowing offer is really as good as it seems.