Code It Yourself: 6 Ways to Become a Self-Taught Developer / Technology / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

With the rise of the digital economy, many people are looking to learn how to code. Here are 6 tips to get started in 2016.

With the rise of the digital economy, many people are looking to learn how to code.

Some are interested in knowing how to code for fun and others because they want to become professional developers. 

But the prospect of learning a coding language can seem quite intimidating. After all, many people spend years in college and thousands of dollars in tuition to perfect their coding skills.

The average computer science graduate is leaving campus with about $30,000 in student debt. Luckily, there are now a lot of easy ways to learn how to code that don’t involve committing to a four-year degree.

Here are some tips and tricks for getting up to speed on coding to start your developer career.

Related Article: Code Kings: 10 Places Your Team Can Develop Programming Skills

1. Focus on One Language

The first thing that you should do when learning to code is decide what coding language you want to use.

While most developers know a number of different languages, you should start by learning just one.

Do some research to figure out which language is going to be most useful to you.

Currently, some of the most popular languages are Java, Python, Ruby, Perl, and my favorite PHP.

If there are multiple languages that you would like to learn, then decide which is going to be easier to learn and focus on that one first. 

2. Have Fun With It

Learning how to code doesn't have to be a painful ordeal. There are number of games that are designed to make learning how to code fun.

In fact, the games are so easy to use that a number of them are targeted at young children.

These include CodeCombat, Code Monkey Island, and CodeMancer. There are also games that target adults, some of which are CodinGame, Cee Bot, and Vim Adventures.

3. Take a Course

If you're the type of person who likes to learn in a more rigorous and organized way then you might consider using a free or paid course.

With either an online or in-person course, you'll be taken through a number of comprehensive modules that have successfully helped other people learn.

In person courses can help you stay on track and learn more quickly since they require you to make a commitment to attend classes over a short period of time, which motivates you to stay on track in a way that self-directed learning might not be able to.

If you want to learn locally, check out colleges in your area to see what they offer. For great online courses, check out Codecademy, Treehouse, Udemy, CoderDojo, and CodeSchool.

Related Article: Is Silicon Valley Still the World's Top Technology Hub?

4. Join a Meetup

There are likely a number of different clubs, meetups, and groups in your community that support people as they try to learn how to code.

Some of these might be tailored to people of different abilities such as groups specifically for beginners or intermediate learners.

Some of these groups are set up so that peers can learn from each other and others have mentors or teachers who help with the learning process and answer questions.

One of the best ways to learn and ensure that you retain information is to teach others and these types of groups give you the chance to help tutor people who don't know as much as you do. 

Check out for groups, or do an online search for groups in your area.

5. Read, Read, Read

If you're the type of learner who retains information more effectively by reading, it might make sense for you to buy or take a book out from your library that will teach you how to code.

There are a number of great books that are focused on learners at different stages in the learning process from beginner to expert.

Be sure to read the reviews of the books you’re considering buying to determine which one is right for you. 

Coding textbooks can get expensive, but you can save quite a bit of money if you buy older editions. The core concepts don't change from version to version.

Related Article: 10 Must-Read Technology Blogs to Keep You In the Know

6. Find a Friend to Help 

One great way to learn how to code is to find a friend who either is a more experienced coder or who is also learning.

This will help you stay motivated and on track in the learning process. You’ll also make learning fun. Consider challenging each other to see who can learn code faster or who is able to create the coolest first website, app or game.

You could also help each other by answering each other’s questions or committing to each learning something about coding and then teaching each other.

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