If you’re just getting started on the path to learning to code, it can feel daunting. How long will it take until you know how to code?
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'll take 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.
What are the different time frames for learning to code?
As you can imagine, the more time you spend practicing and learning, the quicker you’ll learn to code and put your skills to use solving problems. But each of us has a different amount of time to dedicate to our learning journey. So let’s start by identifying a few different types of learners and how long it will likely take each of them to learn to code.
Are you a casual learner?
Casual learners are looking to pick up skills one at a time. They aren’t in a rush, and they aren’t sure what they need to learn, so they just try new things. This type of learner will take the longest amount of time to learn to code, but that’s ok because they are approaching the task as a hobby or a long-term goal. For these learners, it’s likely to take a couple of years to learn to code.
Are you a career advancer?
Career advancers are learning to code because they know that it will help them do their job better. They already know where they need to start, and that means they can focus on learning what they need to know for a specific task. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact timeframe for learning to code, but for a career advancer, a year or so is a good estimate.
Are you a career changer?
The last type of learner is a career changer. These are people who want to learn to code so that they can do this as a career. They bring a focused effort to the task of learning what they need to, and their approach is similar to a gym; the more consistently they work on their skills and the more intensity they bring to their practice, the faster they’ll learn to code. These learners are likely to reach their end goal in under a year with dedicated focus to their career change of becoming a programmer.
If you're thinking about a career in coding, we recommend checking out our Career Paths. Career Paths are designed to take you through everything you'll need to learn to get an entry level job. There are four Career Paths to choose from: Data Scientist, Full-Stack Engineer, Front-End Engineer, and Back-End Engineer.
How to learn to code more quickly
As you’re starting out on your learning journey, regardless of which type of learner you are, you want to set a realistic weekly time commitment for yourself. Now, everyone’s situation is different, so don’t put any extra pressure on yourself. Just put enough time into your pursuit so that you can make some decent progress each week. We’d recommend somewhere between five and 15 hours per week.
If your goal is “learn to code” in a general sense, it can feel overwhelming, and it’s almost impossible to know when you’ve succeeded. To get a better idea of how long it might take you to reach your goal of learning to code, here are a few tips to get clear on your path.
Figure out what type of work you want to do
First, ask yourself this question. Once you know the type of work you want to do in this world, you can narrow in on the type of programming language you might need to learn as well as foundational skills and practice projects. You’ll also be much more clear about where to start and what tools are going to help you.
We’ve all been tempted to learn the latest and greatest thing when it comes to programming. But if you don’t know where it’ll apply in your work or daily life to make things easier, then it isn’t worth learning. Knowing what you want to do with code will allow you to hone in on the specific skills required for your specific work.
Start solving real-world problems as soon as possible
After you’ve learned some foundational skills and completed a couple of tutorials, start to put your skills into practice on problems you want to solve. Take your new skills on a test drive and try to solve a real-world problem. There really is no substitute for what you’ll learn when you start to take the training wheels off your learning-to-code journey.
Don’t waste time on memorization
Because of how many of us learned back in our grade school days, we think we need to memorize aspects of code to be a good programmer. But actually, being a good programmer isn’t about how much you know; it’s about how well you learn.
You might be surprised to hear that programmers often joke among themselves that their job is really just to be professional Googlers. There's no need to get hung up on needing to know every last thing. Instead, most programmers are happy to keep moving forward with a task and look things up along the way.
Learning milestones you can look forward to reaching
While we’re all on our own timelines when it comes to learning to code, there are some common milestones to look forward to. Here are four main milestones that you’ll encounter on your way to learning to code:
- The first a-ha moment when something you’ve been struggling to learn finally clicks
- The first time your code runs without any bugs or errors
- The first time you figure out what’s wrong in the code and why
- The first time you’re no longer afraid of working in the terminal
If you’ve already reached some of these milestones, congratulations! You’re well on your way to learning to code. A few possible next milestones may be updating the styling on a website, learning HTML basics, or crafting an email campaign in HTML or CSS.
Don’t forget to celebrate each of these milestones along the way. You’re putting in real effort, carving out time to learn, and improving with every hour you set aside. With realistic and focused learning goals, you’ll reach the finish line in no time!