How to Become a Software Developer without Quitting Your Day Job
First let’s debunk some myths. Coding is not for geniuses and you don’t have to know or like a lot of Math. Just about anybody can learn to code, all you need is the will to learn.
Why should you learn to code anyways? The demand for programmers is growing [link] and almost no country has enough local talent to fill all the available programming jobs, not even the 3rd world countries with 80% unemployment rate on average. To top it all, computer programming is one of the highest paying jobs in the world[link].
In this post I will discuss 4 ways to learn to write code and become really good at it without resigning from your 9 to 5 job. Believe me, I did
1. Attend a Coding Bootcamp
This is perhaps the most effective way to learn to code and be able to get a programming job within a short period of time. For busy professionals however, you will need to find a Bootcamp that offers short durations that can be covered by your 3/4 weeks annual leave or get 3 months no pay leave if your company allows such and you’re willing put such investment. Bootcamps are effective because they immerse students in coding activities sometimes for up to 14 hours a day or more. They also provide an environment where what everybody thinks and talks about is coding and you can rub minds on projects and assignments with your fellow students and instructors at all times. The downside to coding Bootcamps is majorly financial as most charge in the range of $10,000 and above for a 12weeks program. So if you can cough up the money and you don’t mind sacrificing your annual leave for your dream or even go without pay for a few months, coding Bootcamp might be a good choice for you.
2. Get a personal weekend tutor or Join a weekend program
I greatly recommend this way if the idea of a Bootcamp is not a good fit for you. A good personal trainer or a weekend class of small group of 3 to 5 people will make learning coding a lot easier. More so, such classes or trainers charge relatively low compared to the established coding schools or camps and you can even negotiate the fees sometimes. One down side to this way is that it will take longer to get good at coding but it will be worth it at the end. My recommendation if you decide to choose this method is that you demand your instructor give you a lot of real life assignments and coding exercises, there is nothing more important than getting your hand dirty on real life projects.
3. Online paid courses
You can really achieve a lot in your quest to learning coding via online paid courses if you choose a good course taught by a great instructor. I have found myself paying for a couple of courses over the years especially on Udemy [link] and taking some free courses on Cousera [link]. The most attractive thing about this means is that you can get some really good education for a peanut literarily and some of these platforms have very active forums where you can interact with other students on projects and assignments which is why I have separated online paid courses from the free ones as you will see in the next point.
4. Learn on YouTube
I have been coding for a couple of years now, I’ve worked with some great companies, trained and mentored more than 50 students but the fact is i learned to code on YouTube[link], The New Boston[link] et c . And resolved my frustrating debugging moments through StackOverflow[link] all while holding a day job (I must say i was lucky my job had a lot of flexibility). The problem with this method compared to paid courses and other ways described above is that you must have a very strong willpower else you will be discouraged. Many of these free contents are not codified or arranged in a way to make you quickly understand how to build software which is beyond knowing how to write trivial code snippets which is what most of them teach. Another problem is the lack of mentorship or direct interaction with you instructor and other students like in Bootcamps or even some paid courses. Also, it’s very easy to be discouraged when you run into issues and there is no one to ask and googling solutions might get you even more confused.
In conclusion, I think all these ways of learning don’t mean anything and you would probably not get anywhere until you really know why you want to learn to code. Looking back, learning to code for me was easy because I didn’t like my job at the time and that’s because the job was a dead end and after a couple of research and books I decided to give programming a chance and see if it was something I could do and alas, I saw that I loved it and the rest is history.
If you don’t enjoy what you do, if your job seems to have no future for you, if you’re underpaid and there seems to be no way of getting an increase, or you’re out rightly unemployed, a career change might be a good move and career in software development at this time in world history is very rewarding even in Lagos, Nigeria where I live.
If you want to learn to coding with some mentorship alongside, signup this blog I will soon start some series of step-by-step tutorials on Java and PHP to take you from absolute beginner till perhaps when get your first job as a programmer.