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Lucy Oleschuk
Level 31

Is Becoming a Successful Self-Taught Programmer Realistic Nowadays? Yes, We've Decoded the Formula

Published in the Random group
We bet you have heard about Mark Zuckerberg (co-founder of Facebook), Kevin Systrom (co-founder of Instagram), and many other tech enthusiasts who are currently ruling the world. But do you know that they didn’t graduate from a college or university and chose the pathway of self-taught programming instead? Not everyone who wants to code can afford the money and time required to get an academic degree. Luckily, there are many alternatives in the form of training courses, books, videos, discussions, etc. Below, we discuss whether it’s possible to become a successful self-taught programmer nowadays and what to expect during the self-learning route. Is Becoming a Successful Self-Taught Programmer Realistic Nowadays? Yes, We've Decoded the Formula - 1

What are the benefits of self-taught programming?

Right off the bat, we’d like to explain that being a self-taught programmer doesn’t mean not attending courses or following any instructor or mentor. It means you don’t need to depend heavily on teachers or curriculums. It’s your responsibility to elevate your skills through various means. You can attend self-paced training courses, read programming books, watch video tutorials, and join forum discussions — whatever you find efficient. According to the 2023 Stack Overflow developer survey, 80.13% of responders stick to online resources (e.g., videos, blogs, forums) vs 50.14% of those who attend university or college. Is Becoming a Successful Self-Taught Programmer Realistic Nowadays? Yes, We've Decoded the Formula - 2The popularity of self-driven learning is easy to justify. A self-driven approach has lots of benefits:
  • You can study at your own pace, in the comfort of your home, fitting coding practice around your existing commitments.
  • You can assess and enhance your coding knowledge through practical application with little to no formal evaluation.
  • You can better understand how things work because you figure everything out independently (or with little help from your peers or mentors).
  • Apart from coding, you develop other related skills like testing, deployment, error fixing, etc.
  • Self-taught programming may also help you enhance critical thinking and problem-solving as you deal with many hurdles during this journey.
By the way, the 2023 poll by HackerRank found that problem-solving tops the list of the most sought-after skills for developers. Is Becoming a Successful Self-Taught Programmer Realistic Nowadays? Yes, We've Decoded the Formula - 3
  • You can choose what you want to learn, the projects you want to work on, and the technologies you want to explore.
  • You can explore various learning resources, from online courses and tutorials to documentation and forums, finding what works best for your learning style.
  • Self-driven learning fosters a mindset of lifelong learning, a valuable trait in a field where technologies and best practices constantly evolve.
“In fact, I believe self taught programmers do have some attributes that formally educated potentially lack. These attributes may include more advanced troubleshooting, simply because you have no one to help (other than q/a sites and forums, but let's face it, it's slow), and have had to figure things out or fail. Another possible attribute may be that self-taught programmers have already solved some real-world problems on their own, in contrast to petty, lesson-based projects that rarely are useful outside the classroom.” — says Tom Leach, Senior Engineer. As you see, there are many benefits of self-learning. However, what does it take to become a successful self-taught developer? Are there any hindrances on the way? Here are the main things you should be aware of.

Critical problems you may encounter on your way

There is no rose without thorns, and self-taught programming is no exception. This path also may come with several difficulties for students.

Problem #1. Technical overload

Too many different resources and new information can confuse and overwhelm you. Eventually, you may get stuck on some tasks, leading to burnout. “Being stuck is normal in the early phases of learning to code. During this time, you are honing your skills and learning creative ways to derive solutions.” — Tom highlights. It’s pretty okay to feel frustrated at some point. Yet, you need to take breaks, practice self-care, and remember why you have started and what your goals are.

Problem #2. Lack of consistency

Without a structured curriculum, it's easy to feel overwhelmed or unsure about what to learn next. The most effective solution is creating a learning plan for your goals. Also, remember that it's better to break down your goals into smaller, manageable tasks. Alternatively, you may enroll in a course like CodeGym, where you may follow a well-organized curriculum.

Problem #3. Poor time management

Time management is one of the trickiest parts of self-taught programming since you’re not bound by any time limit to complete your tasks, which may slow the whole process. For instance, self-taught programmers may take long breaks or, on the other hand, overestimate a particular topic and pay too much attention to it. It would help if you tried to set a schedule and stick to it. Break down your learning into short, focused sessions. Use tools like Pomodoro timers to maintain focus during study sessions.

Problem #4. Not enough practical experience

Theoretical knowledge without practical application may hinder your ability to solve real-world problems. And even if you try to code by yourself, it's challenging to know if you're on the right track without regular feedback. You may engage in open-source projects that interest you. Also, you may share your work on coding platforms and forums like GitHub or Stack Overflow. Seeking feedback may help you identify areas for improvement and gain confidence in your skills.

Problem #5. Non-confidence in your skills

“I find programming interesting, and I quickly get new concepts. But because of AI and lots of competition in the market, I'm having doubts. I often read on this subreddit about how hard it is to get a job as a junior programmer, and it makes me question if learning programming is a waste of time since I spend most of my free time on it.” — says Amy from Reddit. If you have excellent programming skills, then even tech giants like Google and Apple can hire you without the compulsion of a degree. “I've hired so many people; my two best hires were self-taught. One was a librarian looking to get into tech. The other was the technical staff (high school trained to do specific stuff for our industry). Both amazing. But they both REALLY loved programming and got super into it, so they were just as qualified,” — replies an experienced recruiter from Canada. We agree that nowadays, employers care more about what you've done and what skills you’ve mastered rather than where or how long you attended school.

How do you make your self-learning successful?

CodeGym may be handy for beginners or career switchers who’d like to become proficient in coding. CodeGym offers two basic options for solo learners and those needing extra support.

CodeGym self-paced course

The CodeGym self-paced course offers flexibility regarding when and how to study. Students can progress at their own speed, especially for career switchers who want to strike a healthy life/work/study balance. CodeGym's self-paced course has an excellent curriculum with step-by-step lessons and 1200+ practical exercises and projects that provide students with hands-on coding experience. With that, a virtual mentor can instantly verify your tasks and offer valuable tips. The course consists of easily digestible lectures, gamified tasks, quizzes, coding exercises, and other engaging materials, making it easier for students to access the necessary concepts. Upon completing the course, you’ll have several real-world projects to showcase in your portfolio.

CodeGym University

CodeGym University is a course that lasts for 12 months and includes regular online lessons with a real mentor. During these 90-minute lessons, a mentor will give you new theoretical knowledge backed with personal recommendations. This course may be an excellent option for students who lack self-discipline or need extra support to overcome complex challenges. The students also have an opportunity to communicate with other learners from their groups. Such engagement with peers may help you learn from other students, share your experience, and collaborate on solving coding problems. The course contains six modules (over 1,000 tasks), including the final real-life project. Also, the dedicated career center can help you create a competitive CV, a GitHub portfolio, and an attractive LinkedIn profile to help you land your first job faster.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, becoming a self-taught programmer is not only realistic but also increasingly viable nowadays. The abundance of online resources and the high demand for skilled programmers make this journey rewarding. Many big companies like Google embrace self-taught developers, recognizing the value of practical skills and dedication. Platforms like CodeGym offer a structured and supportive environment, equipping students with the foundational knowledge they need to succeed. Whether you want to learn solo or need extra support from mentors, CodeGym can get you covered.