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06.13.2022

Is Coding Hard to Learn?

By The Fullstack Academy Team

Screen of code

Is Coding Hard to Learn?

Almost all industries are fiercely competing for coding talent. Whether businesses need support for developing software, creating websites and video games, or perfecting operating systems, the demand for coding expertise is intense.

A 2021 study by management consulting firm Bain and Company found that 90% of business leaders ranked development and deployment of software as a top strategic priority. To remain competitive in our tech-driven world, businesses of all kinds are looking for people who know how to code, which has led to a variety of attractive career options.

If you’ve been thinking about joining the coding talent pool, now is the time. The strong demand for coding skills makes pursuing a career in coding worthwhile. But if you don’t know much about coding, you may have a few basic questions. What is coding? Is coding hard to learn? How long will it take to learn how to code?

If you’re just beginning your journey to a career in coding, answering those questions can help you determine your first step towards learning how to code.

How Hard Is It to Learn Code?

If you’re unfamiliar with coding, learning how to code may appear intimidating. But once you look into the process, you’ll probably feel much more comfortable.

How hard it is to learn code depends on several factors. For example, your prior related experience, ability to be patient and disciplined, and ability to stick with the process will all factor into how difficult learning to code will be. The particular approach you take to learning to code will also affect how hard it will be. You may find that attempting to teach yourself coding can be challenging, while attending a coding bootcamp could make the learning process easier.

If you feel uncertain about your abilities, it’s helpful to explore certain aspects of learning to code and how to approach the learning process.

Start Building a Foundation

A 2021 report on the small-business website AllBusiness suggests that beginners might consider first learning a foundational language such as HTML (HyperText Markup Language), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), or JavaScript.

These languages enable beginning coders to accomplish tasks such as building a website with a professional look and feel. The immediate effect on your skill set can also boost your confidence and prepare you to learn more complex programming languages.

Consider Learning Popular Languages

After establishing a coding foundation, one approach is to learn some of the most popular programming languages.

Software quality firm TIOBE issues a monthly index (based on search engine data) of the most common programming languages. As of May 2022, for example, Python, JavaScript, Ruby, and PHP (formally known as PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) were among the 20 most popular languages, according to the TIOBE index.

Fortunately, some of the most popular programming languages are also among the easiest to learn. In 2021, technology news site TechApprise reported on some of the easier programming languages to master:

  • Python, which colleges frequently use as an introductory programming language for computer science students, is both powerful and one of the easiest programming languages to learn. One advantage of Python is its readability, which enables not only developers but also accountants, scientists, and mathematicians to use it. You can use Python to create web, mobile, and desktop apps.

  • JavaScript is one of the easiest languages for new coders to grasp. Initially used to create web applications and enhance the functionality of web pages, JavaScript now enables individuals to create mobile apps, develop search algorithms, and perform data analysis.

  • Ruby is a general-purpose language that is also among the easiest to learn. You can use it for purposes such as web development, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Its syntax is relatively simple, and Ruby is considered very flexible.

  • PHP is a relatively easy-to-learn language, especially if you’re interested in working in web development. While PHP originally focused on website back-end functionality, developers can now use it to create web and desktop apps.

Prepare for Challenges

Looking at some potential challenges you may face in the process of learning to code can shed light on whether coding is hard to learn. Using advanced programming languages to create complex software, systems, and programs involves some level of difficulty, but knowing about the hurdles you might encounter can help you prepare to face them.

In 2021, employment and networking website LinkedIn reported on the biggest challenges in learning to code, such as:

  • Focusing on syntax, rather than problem-solving. Information technology association ISACA defines syntax as the rules of a programming language that govern how programmers organize and combine symbols to create code. You need to get the syntax right when you’re learning to code, but you also need to remember the overall problem you’re attempting to address with your code. Be careful to avoid getting lost in the weeds, and try to keep the bigger picture in mind.

  • Failing to practice. “Practice makes perfect” is certainly applicable when learning to code. After you learn a programming language, continually practice using it so that you can apply what you’ve learned.

  • Not staying engaged in the learning process. When people take a break from learning, they may never return to complete the process. Staying committed is important.

In tackling the challenges associated with learning to code, it’s helpful to cultivate certain traits that will boost your ability to learn code and make you a valuable member of an employer’s team. In 2022, TechGIG, a website for tech professionals, listed the top five personal characteristics that successful programmers possess:

  • Patience. Coding can be challenging, and good programmers need to have the patience to find the solutions to perplexing issues.

  • Logical thinking. Finding solutions to programming challenges using a calm and reasoned approach is one of the hallmarks of a good programmer. An analytical approach to problems is an important asset.

  • Creativity and ability to solve problems. Innovative thinking can enhance your ability to code successfully.

  • Desire to learn. A curious mind is a great asset to coders. Technology is constantly evolving, and people with the desire to stay up to date on new developments can enhance their programming abilities.

  • Self-discipline. People who code can spend a lot of their time working independently, so it’s important to develop the discipline necessary to stay on track and accomplish tasks efficiently.

If you’re concerned about how hard it is to learn to code, cultivating these traits can make the process more successful and enjoyable. It’s important to be aware of the traits that can boost your odds of success, especially if, as discussed below, you’re mulling over whether coding bootcamps can be worthwhile.

Are Coding Bootcamps Worth It?

You can learn to code through many channels, but one of the most effective approaches is a coding bootcamp. Bootcamps are a good alternative to traditional higher education, and their popularity is increasing.

According to technology research firm Technavio, the size of the global coding bootcamp market increased approximately 14% in 2021, with the U.S. accounting for 41% of that year-over-year growth. Technavio cites growing student enrollment and the cost-effectiveness of bootcamps as the primary drivers for growth in the U.S. market.

But are coding bootcamps worth it? The best way to answer that question is by examining what bootcamps are, what you can learn, and the benefits they have to offer.

What Is a Coding Bootcamp?

Coding bootcamps offer students the opportunity to learn coding through an accelerated process. Some bootcamps stick to the basics, but others offer a more in-depth education. Examples of topics they cover include:

  • Programming languages, such as C++, Java, Python, and Ruby on Rails

  • Front- and back-end web development and design

  • User interface design

  • Application development

  • Data science

  • Product management

Coding bootcamps can be in person or remote. Students have a number of options for paying to attend a coding bootcamp. Employers may be willing to pay the cost of tuition, and some bootcamps also offer scholarships.

What Do Coding Bootcamps Teach?

Coding bootcamps teach students skills they can apply directly in their careers, and they often offer the opportunity to work on projects for a portfolio. Students also can concentrate on a specific area, such as coding, data analytics, or cybersecurity.

If you’re new to coding, you can gain foundational coding skills in several areas, like web development and front- and back-end development. Then, you can expand your skills in other areas, such as advanced database technologies and libraries. During some bootcamps, you will work on software development projects to demonstrate your skills. These can be individual projects, team projects, or capstone projects that use the full range of skills you’ve developed.

What Benefits Do Coding Bootcamps Offer?

The benefits of bootcamps more than offset the challenges you might face in learning to code. According to the career advice site Career SideKick, coding bootcamps:

  • Are a good middle-ground option between attempting to teach yourself to code and investing time earning a four-year college degree

  • Give students the chance to receive feedback on their work from instructors and other students

  • Can provide students with a set of complete, job-ready skills in software development

  • Offer career support services and have good connections with technology employers

Bankrate notes additional benefits of coding bootcamps. For example, coding bootcamps:

  • Are less expensive than a traditional college degree program

  • Allow you to make a career change relatively quickly

  • Enable students to form networks with other people in the field, which can benefit them throughout their careers

Technology industry website BuiltIn also notes that coding bootcamps:

  • Aim to employ instructors who are motivated and experienced

  • Prepare students for careers that are in demand and for which salaries can be relatively high

Coding bootcamps also can prepare individuals to switch to coding careers in a number of areas. According to Indeed, attendance at coding bootcamps can enable individuals to pursue jobs, such as:

  • Application developer

  • Back-end developer

  • Data analyst

  • Data scientist

  • Development operations engineer

  • Digital marketer

  • Fullstack developer

  • Junior developer

  • Product manager

  • Project manager

  • Software engineer

  • Technical support specialist

  • User experience designer

  • User interface designer

  • Web developer

How Long Are Coding Bootcamps?

If you’re interested in participating in a coding bootcamp, you might be curious about how much time you’ll need to invest.

According to the financial website NerdWallet, the typical coding bootcamp is no more than four months long. But each coding bootcamp is unique, and the duration can vary significantly based on the specific type of program and the extent of its curriculum. For example:

  • A 2022 study of bootcamps published in IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication cited bootcamp examples ranging from a one-day, introductory front-end web development workshop to a nine-week coding bootcamp in which students learned HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

  • A 2020 report in Communications of the ACM cited 12-week bootcamps (10 weeks of instruction followed by two weeks of project execution).

  • A 2021 report on MSN.com cited the example of an intensive immersion bootcamp with a duration of 30 weeks.

Individual bootcamp providers typically offer a range of coding bootcamps that vary in length. For instance, Fullstack Academy offers several full-time, part-time, and online coding bootcamps that range from 10 to 28 weeks.

Despite the variation in duration, coding bootcamps often cover similar topics, some more extensively than others. Common topics of instruction include programming languages, such as:

  • Git

  • JavaScript

  • Python

  • Ruby

  • Ruby on Rails

  • SQL (Structured Query Language)

What Are the Different Types of Coding Bootcamps?

Coding bootcamps offer several formats that can reduce scheduling difficulties associated with learning to code. Don’t assume that your busy life or other obligations will necessarily interfere with your ability to attend a bootcamp.

Different types of coding bootcamps are tailored to individuals’ specific needs. In selecting a coding bootcamp, the best path for a given individual could be anything from full-time courses operating on a set schedule to a self-paced program that an individual completes as time permits.

Full-Time, In-Person Coding Bootcamps

If your schedule allows, attending a full-time, in-person coding bootcamp is a great way to immerse yourself in the learning process. The classroom experience includes helpful features, such as review sessions, live lectures, and in-person feedback from instructors.

In the first few weeks of these bootcamps, students typically work on building a knowledge base. For example, they may:

  • Work on reaching a certain technical skill level, which will depend on the skills they may already have going into the bootcamp

  • Learn relatively easier languages and start building expertise in a particular topic, like web development

  • Complete assignments and participate in forums in which they discuss various study topics

After the first few weeks, the more intense phase of the bootcamp begins. During this phase, students:

  • Build on their programming expertise by learning more advanced programming languages

  • Learn more about topics, including back-end web development and databases

In the final weeks, students typically have the chance to apply their expertise by working on projects, such as developing a new app or building a website. For example, students:

  • Work on individual projects from concept through completion

  • Participate in team projects to apply their expertise in a group setting

Full-Time, Remote Coding Bootcamps

Full-time, remote coding bootcamps are largely similar to full-time, in-person ones. Students still attend live lectures, but they do so virtually. They also work on assignments remotely and receive feedback from instructors. As with in-person bootcamps, students have the opportunity to work on projects to apply their expertise and start building a portfolio of their work.

According to a 2020 report in Inside Higher Ed, enrollment in remote coding bootcamps accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. New college graduates who wanted to enhance their resumes, individuals who had been laid off and wanted to move into a new career, and people who simply found they had more time on their hands began diving into remote learning.

Self-Paced, Online Coding Bootcamps

If work, family, or other obligations make attending full-time bootcamps on a set schedule a nonstarter, you have the option of attending a self-paced, online bootcamp. Working on your own timeline, you can complete these bootcamps at a pace that’s best for you. You’ll view recorded videos of lectures and complete assignments to build your coding skills. To get the most out of self-paced bootcamps, students must be able to hold themselves accountable for completing the work.

Other Types of Tech Bootcamps

Some bootcamps focus on preparing students for careers in other specific areas, such as data analytics or cybersecurity.

Data Analytics Bootcamps

Data analytics bootcamps focus on data analysis, but they also train students on data-related presentations and how to communicate the results of data analysis. Furthermore, bootcamp training in data analytics includes the opportunity for students to work on a data analytics project to demonstrate their mastery of skills.

Cybersecurity Bootcamps

Cybersecurity bootcamps offer training in cybersecurity areas, such as system administration, data encoding, and network security. They also provide students with training on types of cybersecurity attacks, penetration testing, ethical hacking, firewalls, and incident response. As with other bootcamps, cybersecurity bootcamps also give students the chance to work on a final project.

Embark on a Career in Coding

Some aspects of learning to code may be challenging, but it’s a fascinating and worthwhile endeavor that can lead to a rewarding career. To get you on your way, a host of coding bootcamps stand ready to provide you with the skills you’ll need. If you’re interested in a career in tech, explore Fullstack Academy’s coding bootcamps. With both in-person and remote options, Fullstack Academy can help pave the way for your entry into the world of coding. Take the first step on that journey today.

Recommended Readings

3 Common Barriers to a Successful Career Change—and How to Work Through Them

Data Scientist vs. Data Analyst: What’s the Difference?

How to Get a Job in Cybersecurity

Sources:

AllBusiness, “Which Coding Languages and Programs Are Best for Beginners?”

Bain and Company, “Technology Report 2021”

Bankrate, “How to Pay for Coding Boot Camp”

BuiltIn, “What Should You Expect From a Coding Bootcamp?”

Career Sidekick, “Are Coding Bootcamps Worth It in 2022?”

Communications of the ACM, “Becoming an ‘Adaptive’ Expert”

IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, “Coding Equity: Social Justice and Computer Programming Literacy Education”

Indeed, “15 Jobs to Pursue after Coding Bootcamp”

Inside Higher Ed, “At Home, Workers Seek Alternative Credentials”

ISACA, Glossary

LinkedIn, “Top 5 Challenges in Learning to Code”

MSN, “Kunal Shah, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Amrish Rau Among 21 Angel Investors in Masai School”

NerdWallet, “What Is a Coding Bootcamp”

TechApprise, “9 Best Easiest Programming Languages to Learn in No Time”

TechGig, “5 Personal Characteristics of Successful Programmers”

Technavio, “Coding Bootcamp Market Size to Grow by USD 772.04 Million”

TIOBE, TIOBE Index for March 2022