How long does it take to learn how to code?
Coding. Many see this activity as something that is reserved only for the brightest minds in the world, but it is nothing more and nothing less than something that everyone can learn!
One and a half year ago I started studying computer science. In my previous education path I already enjoyed five years of programming courses in various programming languages as well as pretty advanced networking and database courses. Basically you could say I was capable of doing some cool stuff, but didn’t really know the whys and hows of everything yet.
On my first day, also having a three months lasting internship as software developer in my resume, people, which mostly happened to be total newbies to coding (except little bits and pieces of python eventually) started asking me this question: How long does it take to learn how to code?
And I honestly said: I don’t know, which was followed by understandably confused faces.
Now, completing my third semester and having worked part time as software dev since November 2018, one solid year after hearing this question for the first time, I think I can answer it now, or at least give some kind of input for the next time someone at the coffee machine is asking me.
The factors of personal development
In total, I figured there are four important factors, which influence how fast you are actually learning how to code, at least for me these were the four most influential ones so far.
Personality and Willingness
Of course “no pain no gain”. Listen in your lectures, take notes, rewatch that youtube video till you really understand what that guy is doing there — skill takes time to evolve.
Some people might be faster and some a little bit slower, but be stubborn if you really want to make it in this branch.
Education and Professors
It is not always possible for everyone to get a proper education, but if it is possible it is worth it — at least it was in my case. For me, it was not just the fact that my professors had a lot of knowledge, but: You could see that they loved what they did out there! — and this is where my own motivation mostly originates from.
Even if you have no access to any kind of college, find someone (on the internet perhaps) you can look up to and learn something from. Surround yourself with coders and get inspired! There are coding meetups in nearly every bigger city.
Work and Co-Workers
Acquainted with some pretty cool skills and knowledge you developed and gained overtime, you may actually finally start working in this field. When you do start actually working as dev it is kind of the same as starting at zero in school again. For me it was actually really hard at first. I suddenly had another kind of pressure to deal with than the one I had back in school. It wasn’t that big of a deal if you coded some last minute solution for your assignment, which happened to be closed at 23:55, so you only had like one hour left to do it. As long as it worked, you got a grade, which was not too bad.
When working, there are very different standards. You also have to keep in mind that others need to understand your code, others will see your code and you may even have some kind of code review.
Your code won’t be forgotten about after you finished it. You may have to upgrade it in the future or customize it.
As I stated in my other article perfectionission — I have a problem with it and surprisingly many other devs I know have one too.
Google and Hardware
Last but not least, to be a good dev you first of all have to have suitable hardware and second of all need to know how to google your way to the right solution. Especially in the beginning, but also later on, no one knows everything.
If you understand the problem you need to solve and know (at least in theory) how it might be solved, Google can provide you with these nasty last 10% to finally reach your goal.
In most cases it is enough to know: Okay, I can do these things in parallel to get a better performance and then throw it all into the database and a web interface will do the trick at the end …
You don’t really need to know every line of your code, like my fellow students thought at the beginning, you need to provide a general solution then the coding part is a fun little finger- activity.
So, how long did it take me, to learn how to code? Maybe around 30 years (I am 20 so still ten years to go).
But for real — Today, being educated and upside down in the topic for seven years straight and having worked as a dev for over one year now, I am confident enough to say — I know what I am doing.
And I sure hope you know it too, sooner or later.