"How long to learn web development" is a question I get asked a lot.
In my view you can learn web development in 6 months.
Of course it depends on your starting point and existing time commitments. But, with commitment and finding time each day it can be done, even for a complete beginner.
I learned to code 15 years ago. Back then the world of web dev much younger and less overwhelming to newbies. Sure, there was no Stack Overflow but there also weren’t a million frameworks and languages vying for my attention either so I was able to focus on a few core areas.
Unfortunately many people have tried to get into web development and failed. So, let's layout a clear and concise path to becoming a web developer in the next 6 months.
No fuss, no muss, just pure actionable steps.
Right now web development is confusing, noisy and difficult to comprehend
People struggle to get into web development through no fault of their own. Here are the primary culprits that stop people becoming a web developer:
- It's fast paced and ever changing so it’s hard to know what to learn.
- It's an established industry with very few set best practices - because it’s so fast paced.
- There's a lot of bad and outdated advice floating around the internet. With plenty of abandoned tutorials guides that just stop as you’re about to get to the good bit.
- People think they need to be a geek or "good with computers" and it puts them off.
I'm going to explain how you can overcome all this and become a web developer.
Here's how, step by step:
Step 1: Pick the learning path that fits you best
This is the most important part. People who commit to a path that suits their lifestyle and existing commitments are 10x more likely to see it though than those who over commit.
Your three main options are:
A paid platform like Zero To Mastery's Web Developer Career Path Course or CodeCademy which have opinionated learning paths and a clear goal for you.
A paid full time bootcamp like Flatiron School or Makers.tech
My personal suggestion is the second one, a paid platform. The courses are excellent and focussed on taking you through a very practical path without you having to dedicate 3-6 months full time to it like a bootcamp.
Once you have chosen your path don’t try to do too much. If you only have 15 minutes a day then just do that. Don’t start at 3 hours a day and burn out after 4 days.
Slow and steady really does with the race here.
Step 2: Build your own projects from day one
Many people get stuck in tutorial hell. This is a phase where they feel like they can code but really they can only follow along with a tutorial. They are only able to take very minor detours from the happy path described by it.
If you can't make a project on your own then, you'll never make it as a developer. You need to get used to starting new projects regularly and feeling you way through it, like a real web developer does.
How to avoid tutorial hell
From the very first day take what you learn and make your own version.
For a web developer course your first project will likely be an index.html page that displays the "hello world".
So at at the end of day 1 make your own index.html page and change the words to your favorite motivational quote or a joke - it doesn’t really matter what it is, just not hello world.
Also, try changing the file name and see what happens.
These kind of small wins from early on will stop you ever entering tutorial hell, let alone getting stuck there.
Step 3: Talk about what you're learning on LinkedIn
You're learning to code to have a better life, most likely to get a good job with that sweet sweet developer money 😉
Getting a job is a lot easier with a network. So start building that network when you start learning.
Share a post on LinkedIn about what you learnt in your first week, what you found hard and what you are looking forward to in the next week.
Here's an example:
Spent most of this week learning about responsive layouts with CSS. I looks like you can use flex and grid to force certain responsive behaviors - I never realized this about modern websites, I thought they loaded a different site for different screens. Next week I'll be looking at how we can show different types of navigation depending on the screen size. Anything I should be on the look out for?
Doing this every week, just a couple of hundred words, will attract comments of support and encouragement, often from senior developers who, when you are ready, will be able to help you get that first job.
Reply to every comment, ask questions and be consistent.
How long it takes to learn web development still depends on how much time you have to commit to it but, with a little bit of work everyday, you can lean web development in 6 to 12 months with the steps above. No step is more important than the other BUT each one builds upon the former, so follow the process, trust the process and get ready for a new career as a web developer!