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Learn to Code for Free: Your Ultimate Guide for 2021

The world of coding and programming is now readily accessible to anyone who wants to learn, and it can be a lucrative career if you decide to take that path.

What we'll cover:

  1. Why do you want to learn to code?

  2. How do I choose the right programming language to learn to code?

  3. Can I learn to code with free online coding classes?

  4. Can I learn to code with a book?

  5. Are there interactive tutorials or games to learn to code?

  6. What about YouTube channels about coding?

  7. What are other ways to learn to code?

  8. Resources

  9. FAQs

Now is the time to learn to code

Coding isn’t just for those who want to do it full-time. Companies and businesses value people who have this ability, so it’s a good move to learn to code so you can list coding or programming as a skill on a resume. That skill could help separate you from the rest of the applicants. 

Ask yourself: Why do you want to learn how to code?

Before we check out how you can learn to code for free, you need to figure out why you want to learn to code. This will help you to narrow down the programming languages you have to learn and give you an estimate of how much time and money it might take to become a qualified coder. 

For some, learning how to code gives them the practical knowledge they need to create new applications. If you’re the creative type and constantly have ideas for the next big thing, learning how to code gives you the tools you need to start working on your vision. You may also want to learn coding to optimize your current processes and to save time. For example, you can write a Python script to automate inputs into a spreadsheet and so on. 

Others want to learn how to code so they can get into the job market as a programmer. Look up potential job postings to see which language you should learn for the type of role and company you want to work for. You don’t always have to be employed as a coder, however. You can also launch your freelance programming career once you’re proficient enough. 

You can learn how to code to expand the skills in your portfolio, which can lead to other job opportunities. 

There are many more reasons why you may want to be a coder. You’ll need to sit down and find out your reasons why you want to learn programming. Once you do, it’s time to pick a programming language to learn.  

How do I choose the right programming language to learn to code?

Programming languages are a set of commands that a coder uses to build software. They define how a program processes data to give meaningful information. There are many programming languages to choose from — Wikipedia lists about 700 of them. Each of them has its advantages, disadvantages, and where they can be applied. 

What you want to do with your coding knowledge determines the types of programming languages you’ll learn. 

If you know the career route you want to take as a programmer, choosing a programming language to learn is easier. Programming languages you’ll need to learn for other coding professions include:

Front-end developer: HTML, CSS, JavaScript

Front-end developers are involved in the graphic design elements of websites. While they may not be the person to design the page, they are the one responsible for taking a graphic design mockup and turning it into a website — the visual layout of a page, the most visible pieces to website visitors. 

Back-end developer: JavaScript, Python, C++, SQL, Ruby

A website’s back-end has a server, a database, and an application to run them. JavaScript, Python, and SQL are the most common tools used to build and maintain these back-end components. 

Machine learning: Python

A machine learning expert focuses on developing programs that can analyze data, ‘learn’ from it, and make its own predictions. Python is used to build machine learning languages because it is easy to understand and debug with the capacity to handle complicated operations without writing complex code. 

Android mobile app development: Java

As the name suggests, an android developer creates applications for Android devices. Java is the language of choice for an Android developer to make secure, portable and flexible apps that can run on any device. 

iOS development: Swift

Swift is the programming language developed by Apple to develop apps for iOS, Mac, and other Apple products. It is a robust, English-like coding language with lots of interactivity for developing Apple applications. 

6 ways to start coding - free coding courses, tutorials or coding games, books, coding bootcamps, practice with personal projects, YouTube

Can I learn to code with free coding classes?

Learning how to write code can be a daunting prospect. Fortunately, you don’t have to go to college to get an expensive 4-year degree in programming. You can take advantage of online courses and study from the comfort of your home and at your own pace. 

Free online courses are a great way to kickstart your coding journey. They would help you identify your passion and help you choose a programming path if you didn’t have one. A quick search should bring up countless online courses to learn to code, both free and paid. 

Flatiron School has plenty of free coding lessons you can use to learn virtually all you need to get started as a programmer. Our workshops are the perfect start for you, whether you’re looking to launch into a career in tech or learning coding for fun. 

Some of the free lessons you can get started with include:

Can I learn to code with a book?

As a self-taught programmer, you’ll no doubt go through plenty of tutorials and websites in search of information on certain topics. Books, however, are a great resource that combines all the information you need into one volume. They often give a more comprehensive view of programming and offer more in-depth information than most tutorials. 

best books to learn programming as a self-study are The Self-Taught Programmer by Cory Althoff, Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug, Think Like a Programmer by V. Anton Spraul, and Code Code by Robert C. Martin

An internet search should lead you to both e-books and hard copy versions of the books you need for whatever language you want to learn. Aside from the books about specific languages, you might want to read up on other books that offer general industry advice, like studying algorithms. These will help you to gain the soft skills and the right mindset to be a proper programmer. Some of the books include: 

  1. The Self-Taught Programmer: The Definitive Guide to Programming Professionally by Cory Althoff

This book aims to go beyond what other coding books offer by giving you computer science fundamentals, programming job interview tips, and how to collaborate with others as a programmer. You’ll still learn how to code and use various tools with the book, though. 

2. Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug

This book is a must-have for all web developers. In a humorous way and with plenty of illustrations, this book explores how to create pleasant to use and easy to navigate websites.

3. Think Like a Programmer: An Introduction to Creative Problem Solving by V. Anton Spraul 

While coding is focused on writing actual code for a system, the duties of a programmer in the real world are a lot more. A programmer will be required to think creatively and solve problems daily. This book introduces you to complementing your coding skills with creative problem solving to be a better programmer. 

4. Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert C. Martin

As you practice coding, you may not be concerned about your code’s efficiency. This book aims to push your coding abilities further by explaining the best practices you can use to write clean code. 

Are there interactive tutorials or games to learn to code?

Reading lots of lines of code in books and tutorials can get boring quickly. Coding games and interactive tutorials bring fun into learning programming. Some of the coding games and interactive tutorials you can try out are: 

  1. Codewars

Codewars is a fun, martial arts-themed coding game for beginners. As you complete the coding challenges called ‘kata,’ you advance to higher ranks in the game. You can learn Java, Python, Ruby, and many more languages on the platform. 

2. Code Conquest

Code Conquest is a free, online coding platform for beginners where you can learn through free tutorials, test your knowledge with quizzes, and much more. You can learn Swift, Javascript, HTML, CSS, Ruby, among other languages. 

3. The Code Player

The Code Player is another free coding website with video tutorials for small projects at a time. You can learn HTML, CSS, Javascript, JQuery, and more on the site. 

What about YouTube channels about coding?

Online tutorials and books are great resources to learn how to code. Sometimes, however, you just have to see someone doing it for you to understand certain concepts. YouTube is a goldmine of programming content that you can watch to build your coding expertise. From coding marathons to ex-Facebook and Google programmers sharing their knowledge, there’s no shortage of coding content on the website. 

Check out this article from Career Karma on top 50 coding YouTube channels.

What are other ways to learn to code?

1. Practice with personal projects

No matter how many coding tutorials, videos, and games you watch, you’ll still need to do a fair bit of personal practice to get good at coding. 

A good practice project should test the skills you already know and set you up for more skills in the future. When you encounter problems on the way, a quick internet search or a peek at your coding tutorials should help you solve your problem. Stack Overflow is a fantastic resource you can use whenever you get stuck on a project. 

As you’re working on your personal projects, learn the git version control system and become familiar with how to use github. You can learn a lot from other coders by browsing github, and you can even use it to share your own projects once you’re done.  

‌If you do these personal projects well, they will help when looking for your first coding job. Most employers will need to see some proof of your coding abilities, and your personal projects are just perfect for that. 

2. Attend a coding bootcamp

Coding bootcamps are a high-quality way to get into coding. Most bootcamps will require a bit more money and time to go through than free online courses and tutorials, but are significantly less expensive than going to college. They offer better education quality and a lot of support as you learn how to code. 

Coding bootcamps are an excellent way to quickly build your skills without the cost of  a full college degree. Depending on the program, you’ll be able to quickly prepare your coding skills for the market and kickstart your career. 

While bootcamps certainly aren’t free, a coding bootcamp is the most efficient way to learn the coding skills you need to get a job in tech. Check out the curriculum to see what you could learn. 

Flatiron School has both full-time and flexible pacing options that you can sign up for and start learning to code. 

Learn to code for free or go all in and invest in attending a coding bootcamp

What are frequently asked questions about learning to code?

How can I teach myself to code?

You can teach yourself how to code using online tutorials, videos, and coding games. You can also sign up for one of the many coding courses available on the internet, both free and paid. There are also many books on coding, both on the internet and in stores, that you can read and teach yourself how to code. 

How do beginners learn to code?

First, beginners have to select a programming language they would like to learn. After choosing the right programming language, the next step is to look for learning material on the language. There are plenty of free online courses, tutorials, books, and videos that can help a beginner learn the basics of coding. 

How much do coding jobs pay?

Your earnings as a coder will depend on your location, the company you’re working with, and the programming language you’re specialized in, and your experience level. Check out current average salaries on Indeed to see how much you could make.