How to Learn Programming Without a Degree

Most high-paying occupations require years of schooling to earn a living, but programming offers several paths to gaining professional skill levels without a degree. Some students opt for a self-directed approach, with the support of online learning resources and communities. Others go to coding schools or bootcamps, where they pay tuition in exchange for structured guidance.

The best place to start when trying to learn programming is with a language that aligns with your long-term goals. For example, if you want to work in web development, choose a language like HTML or CSS. These languages are simple to understand, making them great starters for beginners. Then, you can move on to more complex languages as you become more proficient.

Once you’ve chosen a language, practice daily to master its syntax. Some people even suggest following a 2:1 ratio between conceptual learning and hands-on exposure. This means that after two hours of learning theory, spend an hour coding.

It’s also a good idea to learn how to use coding tools and editors to make the process easier. Try using a text editor with features that will make coding faster and more efficient, such as color coding, auto-complete, and find-and-replace. Also, be sure to familiarize yourself with your computer’s console (also called a terminal). This can help you navigate files and commands more quickly than the standard graphical user interface. And finally, don’t be afraid to Google problems and errors that you encounter while building your program. You’ll often find helpful solutions on forums and community websites such as StackOverflow.

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