It’s safe to say that many people’s New Year’s resolutions include “learn programming.” If you’re one of them, what are your odds of succeeding?
Not very high. According to SkilledUp, a curator of information about online classes and boot camps related to programming, only 5% of people make it all the way through an online programming course, although 10% complete it if they pay for it.
It gets worse. Experts say that even if you complete an online coding class, you’re still not close to being prepared for a job in the industry. “The myth that anyone can wake up one day, attend a bootcamp and graduate into a six-figure salary is misleading,” said Daniel Daks, product manager at SkilledUp. “I have yet to meet a learner who has gone from complete novice to professional developer through a single learning product.”
Those who have made the transition say there’s another limiting factor: It’s very difficult to teach yourself programming when you have a full-time job. This explains why teens are often adept at programming; unfettered from adult responsibilities, they have lots of leisure time to hone their skills. Adults looking to replicate that experience may be better off quitting their jobs, so they can throw themselves into learning coding full-time, rather than putting in an hour here or there.
“It basically takes six to 12 months of doing it full-time,” said Chris Sunsong, a self-taught programmer. “Looking back, if I had made time to do it when I was fully employed elsewhere, I think it would have been futile.”
Sunsong, now 30, left his job several years ago to learn Ruby on Rails. To do so, he used free resources, such as Codecademy and Treehouse, to teach himself for eight to 10 hours a day, every day for nine months.
“I basically slaved away through every tutorial I could find,” he said. “I’d recreate a project, and when I hit a wall, I’d find a tutorial on that topic, and I’d keep on repeating it.”
After all that, Sunsong got an entry-level job as a programmer, which he loves.
Not everyone believes you have to quit your full-time job to learn programming, though. Ryan Carson, CEO of Treehouse, said most people can learn by devoting 30 minutes to an hour every day over a period of months.
“It’s definitely something you can do in the morning before your kids get up, or over lunch,” he said. “We’ve seen our students go through it in six to 12 months.”
Carson added that Treehouse’s completion rate is 30%, perhaps because it’s paid — Treehouse charges $25 to $49 a month — but also because the company has honed its instruction.
“We’ve been doing it for four years,” he said. “We’re starting to get to the point where we’ve finally cracked the secret.”
Joe Fusco’s experience shows that you can have a full-time job in an unrelated field, teach yourself coding and switch careers. Two years ago, Fusco, who lives in Rochester, New York, was working two jobs to make ends meet. “I started in the restaurant industry. I was a dishwasher,” he said.
He later left to become a bouncer at night, while working a security job during the day. Often, Fusco would pull a 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift, then have a two-hour break before his 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift started, where he made $10 an hour.
“After a year of that, I started to get burned out,” he said. “At that time, my daughter was on the way, so that kind of drove me to further myself, too, because hey, this wasn’t going to cut it.”
Fusco’s security job allowed him to put in some computer time; he snuck in a few hours here and there on Treehouse. After two or three months, he got a tech job at Phu Concepts, a web design and online-marketing company in Rochester.
However, there’s one big asterisk to Fusco’s story. Prior to teaching himself programming, he was one semester shy of completing a computer science degree. Fusco said he didn’t get much practical coding knowledge from college, but it probably didn’t hurt.
SkilledUp’s Daks said he believes the value of online programming courses is that it teaches you the basics. Beyond that, unless you already have a decent base of knowledge, you’ll probably need some help, Daks added.
“The essence of what makes Codecademy great for beginners is what limits it from taking intermediary learners to the next level: real-world conditions,” he said. “The next step often requires learners to transition to an educational format that embraces the various realities of a professional programmer. No longer can a learner’s missteps be predicted by generic tips or hints, and they often require some degree of personalized attention and increased commitment.”
Posted by mashable.com