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How to Learn to Code for Free 2021: Best Free Coding Classes, Bootcamps, and Other Resources

Coding has become a popular alternate career path as the need for programmers continues to grow. As the industry has expanded, so have the ways you can learn to code. Online coding resources can teach you fundamental concepts for free. Take a look below at how to learn to code for free with free coding bootcamps and coding courses.

Why Learn to Code? Five Reasons to Get Into Coding

  1. There’s lots of job growth and good salaries.
  2. You’ll be gaining a versatile skillset.
  3. Coding provides tangible career benefits even outside of tech.
  4. You’ll gain career flexibility.
  5. You can learn without interrupting your schedule.

There’s Lots of Job Growth and Good Salaries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an average growth rate of four percent across all jobs by 2029. However, this growth rate is much higher for tech careers. For example, the BLS also reports that software developer job opportunities will grow by 22 percent. Learning to code is a great way to take advantage of this growth.

Web developers earn a median salary of $77,200, and software developers earn a median salary of $110,140, according to the BLS. These positions are both well-compensated and earn significantly more than average. Even entry-level positions earn more than average, with entry-level software developers making around $63,337, according to PayScale.

You’ll Be Gaining a Versatile Skillset

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The most popular programming languages are all versatile, allowing you to do everything from building a musical instrument to designing games and websites. Learning a language like C#, for example, allows you to do all of the above. And as many programming languages are similar, after learning one language, it should be easier to learn more.

Coding Provides Tangible Career Benefit Even Outside of Tech

From a non-technical perspective, coding lessons allow you to flex your critical thinking skills while joining a new community of people. From a career perspective, several fields inside and outside of tech use coding. Engineers and designers learn Python, C#, and LISP to automate tasks in AutoCAD, and marketers are harnessing HTML.

You’ll Gain Career Flexibility

As mentioned above, you’ll be learning a versatile skill that is valued in numerous fields. Coding skills add more to your resume and can make it easier to find jobs in your field. If you want to leave your current career, you can make the switch into tech after getting the right coding education.

You Can Learn Without Interrupting Your Schedule

You can take online courses, learn core concepts of coding from YouTube, and even remotely attend part-time coding or data science bootcamps while maintaining your work or school schedule. You can even attend an in-person coding bootcamp part-time to get a classroom experience without losing your day job.

How to Learn to Code for Free in 2021: 4 Steps to Get You Started 

Your learning path into coding depends on your goals, but there are some ways to narrow down what’s right for you. You can start by learning the core concepts and then progress to another education option, or you can become an expert with interactive tutorials. The most important thing is to find out what fits your needs and then commit to a reasonable goal.

Step 1: Do Your Research

It may seem obvious, but it’s important to find out which coding language fits your needs the best. If you want to become a data scientist, for example, you’d probably get more use from Python than C#, but the opposite is true for game programmers. The best way to start your coding journey is to decide which languages you should learn.

Step 2: Find Out If Coding Is Right for You

After you’ve found the language that would best suit your needs, it’s time to see if coding is right for you. You can watch a few tutorials on YouTube or take a one-day workshop. By getting a sense of what you can do, you can keep sight of your goals when the learning process gets tough.

Step 3: Choose Your Education Option

You can learn to code with online courses, in-person bootcamps, coding games, certificate programs, and more. You’re probably comfortable with your learning style at this point, so you’ll know which option works best for you. After you’ve learned the basics, you can take more advanced courses to build on your knowledge.

Step 4: Commit to the Process

Learning to code won’t always be easy. You’ll have to spend hours programming lines of code that may or may not work. There will be some core concepts that may take you longer to grasp than others. But millions of students learn to code every year, and you can join that number if you’re committed to studying and practicing your craft regularly.

What’s the Best Programming Language to Learn First in 2021?

Some of the best programming languages for beginners are JavaScript, Python, Swift, C#, and Ruby. These languages all have industry demand, syntaxes that are relatively easy to understand, and a wealth of interactive tutorials online to help you solve any problem you may encounter.

  1. JavaScript. JavaScript is one of the three basic building blocks of the web, along with HTML and CSS. It’s got high demand and a manageable learning curve, while also adding flexibility through its React library.
  2. Python. Python is the language of choice for data science. Python’s syntax also removes many of the symbols that other languages rely on, making it more human-readable and easier to grasp.
  3. Swift. Apple developed Swift to replace its Objective-C programming language, and now it’s becoming their language of choice. Learning Swift allows you to program apps for any Apple device.
  4. C#. Just as Swift is Apple’s programming language of choice, C# is Microsoft’s language of choice. It’s another C-based programming language, which means learning how to build apps in this language gives you skills that transfer to others like C++.
  5. Ruby. The Ruby on Rails framework allows you to build web applications extraordinarily quickly. It covers the front end and backend on its own, and its structure makes programming much less intimidating for beginners.

Five Best Free Coding Bootcamps of 2021

Two women sit in front of a computer with flowers how to code for free
Many coding bootcamps offer free options where you can learn the basics of coding. 

Free coding bootcamps allow you to learn from experts in a curated curriculum. Thanks to this guidance, you can trust that you’re learning the best methods. While it’s possible to build your own coding curriculum, you don’t want to end up with gaps in your knowledge. 

These bootcamps are usually delivered online and help you lay a foundation in your language of choice. However, they usually won’t train you to an industry-competent level like immersive bootcamps. It’s important to supplement these courses with more study if you want to master your craft.

Coding BootcampFree Coding Bootcamp ProgramDurationProgramming Languages
App AcademyApp Academy OpenSelf-pacedJavaScript, Ruby on Rails, SQL
Flatiron SchoolIntro to Coding, Intro to Data ScienceSelf-pacedHTML, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby, Python
General AssemblyDashSelf-pacedHTML, CSS, JavaScript
Kenzie AcademyKenzie FreeSelf-pacedHTML, CSS, JavaScript
The Odin ProjectFoundations, Full-Stack JavaScript, Full-Stack Ruby on RailsSelf-pacedHTML, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby on Rails, SQL

App Academy Open by App Academy

One of the more ambitious options, this course allows students to access the complete App Academy curriculum at no charge. This self-paced program lacks the live instruction of the paid option. However, you can still learn how to build full stack apps and websites in JavaScript and Ruby on Rails along with several key tools like React, SQL, and Flask.

Intros to Coding and Data Science by Flatiron School

These two courses serve as a free introduction to Flatiron School’s software engineering and data science courses. The coding course teaches students the basics of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Ruby. The data science course teaches the basics of Python and the tools you need to succeed in the field. 

Dash by General Assembly

Dash is General Assembly’s free mini-course on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. During this course, students learn how to create dynamic sites for themselves and businesses as well as responsive blog themes completely from scratch. Once you complete it, you will be prepared for the full program.

Kenzie Free by Kenzie Academy

Kenzie Free is a series of mini-courses from Kenzie Academy, an established bootcamp. In this course, new coding students can learn the fundamentals of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. With a curriculum co-designed by former employees of Google and LinkedIn, you can learn the thought process that industry professionals use to tackle problems daily.

Coding Courses by The Odin Project

The Odin Project is a labor of love from computer science professionals. This open-source website has courses where you can learn the foundations of computer science, Ruby on Rails, and JavaScript. This project is sponsored by Thinkful, so it meets the standards of a big name in the industry without the price.

Five Best Free Online Coding Classes and Courses of 2021

If you’re looking to test out the coding process before making any long-term commitments, these short-term courses may be more appropriate for you. These are short one-day workshops or completely asynchronous courses from the providers below. However, they still provide a good basis for studying your programming language of choice.

Free Online Coding ClassDurationProgramming LanguagesCertificate of Completion
Codecademy25+ hoursSwift, C#, Java, JavaScript, Python, SQL, Ruby, and moreNo
CourseraA few monthsC#, Python, Swift, JavaScript, and moreYes, if you enroll in the full course
edX4+ weeksPython, Java, Ruby, and moreYes, for $49 – $149
freeCodeCampSelf-pacedJavaScript, PythonYes
Khan AcademySelf-pacedJavaScript, SQLNo

Multiple Courses by Codecademy

Codecademy offers courses in multiple popular programming languages. It teaches its students with coding games that give you visual feedback on why your code is or isn’t working. You can take beginner courses for free in each of the languages it offers and progress to more advanced study with a paid pro account.

Multiple Courses by Coursera

Coursera’s coding classes are built and maintained by industry experts and university professors. You can learn to code for free by auditing its courses on just about every subject imaginable, but if you’d like to have a certificate of completion as well as interactive tutorials, you can enroll for a small fee.

Multiple Courses by edX

edX offers courses from some of the leading universities and companies on the planet. For example, you can learn to code Python at a beginner level from Georgia Tech and then learn about Computational Thinking with Python in a course from MIT. You can audit, but paying for a course opens unlimited access to course materials, certificates, and more.

Multiple Courses by freeCodeCamp

freeCodeCamp gives coding classes at no charge on a range of topics from responsive web design to scientific computing with Python. The platform offers verified certifications in each of its 10 courses. freeCodeCamp attendees have gone on to work at companies including Google, Amazon, Spotify, and more, so this course has a proven track record.

Computer Programming by Khan Academy

Khan Academy’s mission is to provide quality education to all age levels on several topics. In its computer programming course, you’ll learn full stack web development with JavaScript and SQL at no charge. You can also take one of its quicker Hour of Code lessons to try out your commitment to coding before taking a full course.

Will Learning to Code Get Me a Job?

Learning to code will not guarantee you a job, but it does offer a path to employment in a growing field with respectable salaries. You can learn just about everything you need to work as a junior-level software developer without paying anything using these courses. 

However, it’s important to stick with your lessons to ensure you make regular progress. It’s not easy to learn alone, but with reasonable goals and a solid plan of study, you can land a job that may suit you better than what you’re doing now.

Learn to Code for Free FAQ

How should a beginner learn to code?

The first step for beginners is to find which language best suits their needs. After you’ve read some articles and watched a few tutorials on YouTube, then you can start coding with many free options.

Can coding be self-taught?

Yes, coding can be self-taught. It does, however, take more energy than other methods. Many entry-level jobs will provide extra training to bring you up to their standard if you show you’re competent enough with the language of choice, so don’t feel pressured to learn everything. 

Does coding require math?

Coding does not require math. However, some branches of the coding force do handle more math than others. If you’re an engineer or a data scientist, you’ll use coding and math together quite often, but web developers hardly ever use math.

Is coding hard to learn?

Coding can be difficult to learn at first, but it gets easier as you progress. Once you’ve learned enough to get an entry-level job, you’ve only started your coding journey. You’ll continue building on your knowledge base for the rest of your career as the technology evolves, but you’ll already have a strong base that will simplify the process.

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