The tools you need to hone web development skills are right at your fingertips.
Learning how to code is a smart career move. As the number of people and devices connected to the Internet has skyrocketed in the past decade, so too has the demand for people who have programming and web design skills.
You may assume that to understand something as complex as web development, you need to go back to school or enroll in expensive classes. Think again.
Believe it or not, many web developers don’t have a formal education in the trade. There are plenty of free and inexpensive tools to help you learn web development skills without investing much more than your own time and brainpower.
Here are three of the best ways to learn the basics of web development without going back to school for a four-year degree. (Click here to tweet this list.)
1. Online courses
There are literally hundreds of courses and tutorials online that can help you get your feet wet as a web developer. Online classes are a good place to start, but you’ll need more as you progress through the basics. Good web developers also have a network of mentors and peers with whom they can trade ideas and get feedback.
If all your education is online, you may struggle when faced with more difficult problems. That’s where having other people to turn to becomes valuable. In addition to taking online courses, attend web developer Meetups to get plugged into your local community.
2. Developer bootcamps
Programming bootcamps have taken off over the past five years. In San Francisco alone, you’ll find dozens of courses offered by at least 20 schools. These programs set out to teach their students the basics of code in just a few short weeks. They can be an effective way to learn a lot of information quickly.
Still, these programs have limitations. You shouldn’t expect to master web development – or any skill for that matter – in just 12 weeks, so keep up with your training to prove to employers that you can produce quality code.
Take advantage of the networking opportunities these bootcamp programs offer — the connections you make alone may be worth the price.
3. Two-year college
Trade schools or community colleges are another viable option when you want to learn to code but don’t have the time or resources to invest in a full-time education. Don’t discount the financial value of a two-year degree either. Many community college grads make more money than bachelor degree holders right out of the gate.
Community college isn’t right for everyone. Some people who transfer into larger four-year colleges struggle without the individualized attention, and two-year colleges usually offer a smaller selection of classes than most major institutions. Look for a program that specializes in web development and has qualified faculty to teach their courses.
Most of all, keep your expectations realistic. Keep in mind that while taking a few courses will help you start to understand programming, you’ll still need years of practice to be a professional software craftsman. No amount of book learning can replace time in the trenches solving problems with a team.
What tips do you have for learning web development skills? What courses or training programs do you recommend? Let us know in the comments below.
Karl Hughes is a startup fanatic and engineer with experience leading offshore and in-office teams. He’s currently the Engineering Manager at Packback Books and Blogger in Chief at JobBrander.