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Should you learn to code? Part IV

Gain critical coding skills

If you’ve been following this blog series, you’re probably thinking, “Sure I’d like to learn basic coding skills…but I also want to learn Spanish, Chinese or (?). I’ll get around to it…eventually.” But not committing to an action plan can result in long-term ‘shoulda, coulda, woulda’ regret when you’re later passed over for a new job, promotion, or high-profile assignment.

Outstanding, free online training options

There is a wealth of free online coding skills resources to help non-IT professionals gain critical coding skills. Begin with the introductory programming courses and tutorials, many of which are self-paced, found on Codecademy, Coursera, Khan Academy, and W3schools.

  • Codecademy’s comprehensive project-based learning programs are geared to different skill levels. You can begin by creating and implementing code for your own projects on their interactive website. If interested in taking it further, you can also learn the basics of HTML/CSS, Javascript, PHP, Python or Ruby on Rails (very hot right now) with their project-based tutorials.
  • Codecademy’s Code Year initiative introduced almost a half million people through a beautifully developed series of weekly code exercises. Building on that, they recently released an Hour of Code app for the iPhone–helping beginners code and run their first program in under an hour. This even got the attention of President Obama recently quoted as saying, “Don’t just play on your phone— program it“.
  • Two phenomenal, also completely free Ivy League options are Stanford’s Computer Science 101, and Harvard’s Introduction to Computer Science, courses tailored for people with no previous programming knowledge. Many high-level non-IT professionals, including executives, have taken them, giving them consistently rave reviews.
  • To get a compendium of the top university-based online coding courses, go directly to Coursera. When there, be sure to check out Open Yale’s excellent course offerings, comparable to those of Stanford and Harvard. is another free learning platform sponsored by Silicon Valley players like Facebook, Apple and Google. It offers free beginner’s coding tutorials for all ages, including for children.

Tuition-based boot camps for dedicated IT professionals

The plethora of for-pay coding boot camps is fueled by money from diverse sources, including tech industry recruiters who want to ‘mint’ coders as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, some certification programs are sub-standard. Because these training programs can cost upwards of $15K, buyer beware. That said, most boot camps have a good reputation and provide scholarships plus other tuition support.

Recommended lower-budget boot camps include CareerFoundry (online); App Academy (in-person); Apprentice.lo by throughbot (in-person); Craftsmanship Academy by RoleModel (in-person); Brainstation (in-person); Treehouse (online); Udacity (online); Tealeaf Academy (online); General Assembly’s Web Design Circuit (online), and; Firehose (online). The online options are generally less expensive, but not always.

If you have the resources for one of the more expensive in-person boot camps, consider a program like Codeup (San Antonio), MakerSquare (Austin); The Iron Yard (Houston, etc.); Hack Reactor (San Francisco); Epicodus (Portland); Fullstack Academy (New York); or Starter League (Chicago).



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