Can I Learn to Code on My Own?

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Many people start working in one field only to find themselves changing careers to something completely different – for example, from restaurant owner to doctor, or from marketing specialist to web developer. If you’re keen to enter the lucrative field of coding, is this something you can pick up on your own? Here are five questions worth asking now to answer the question, ‘Can I learn to code on my own?’.

When it comes to learning coding, you can teach yourself. Says 2018’s Stack Overflow Developer Report, ‘(A)lmost 90% of all developers say they have taught themselves a new language, framework or tool outside of their formal education.’ You would then use online resources, which could include tutorials such as Google’s Python Class, or video-based learning like Udacity’s free Introduction to Computer Science.  Alternatively, you can learn online via a mentor-led bootcamp, where you receive expert advice when you get stuck. HyperionDev’s bootcamps are an example of this kind of mentor-led learning.

To decide whether you’re better off doing it all yourself or whether you’d benefit from mentor-led learning, consider the following five questions, as put forward by Course Report:

1. Do you have prior coding experience?

Those with a computer science background or a knowledge of programming will find it easier to fly solo and teach themselves another language. If your knowledge is fairly minimal, you’ll learn quicker with a coding bootcamp. (Quick recap: an online coding bootcamp is a structured, mentor-guided learning platform that replicates an in-class experience. You’ll find that you need to put aside between 5 and 30 hours per week to study coding this way.)

2. Will you be able to set up your own curriculum?

If you don’t have a mentor, you’ll need to decide what you should and shouldn’t be learning. You will need to put together your own curriculum. Can I learn to code on my own? You can, if you feel comfortable drawing up your own learning plan that will meet the needs of potential employers.

However, if you don’t feel comfortable putting together your own curriculum, there are definite benefits to enrolling on a mentor-led online bootcamp. You’ll know that the structure of the course has been carefully devised to reflect the latest industry standards.

3. What is your learning style?

In the past when you’ve given yourself a project or a self-study, have you finished and stayed motivated? MOOCs (or ‘massive online open courses’) tend to have less than a 15% completion rate.

Most people learning to code will go through a number of psychological stages. Think about how you’d cope with each of these stages bearing in mind your learning style. The Footnotes, a career portal website, outlines these stages:

The Honeymoon: This is the first magical introduction to code.

The Cliff of Confusion: You’re getting a little stuck and need help. If you’re on a bootcamp, you’ll make good use of your mentor during this phase. Says Masood Gool, Lead Mentor at HyperionDev: ‘Learning to program can be a daunting task. Sometimes you may feel you’ve been thrown in the deep end. Coding mentors are there to smooth this process, provide individualised feedback and guide you along the path to success. This allows you to customise your learning path to achieve your goals.’

The Desert of Despair: This is a fairly long and lonely stage. You’re sitting alone and you’re really stuck. Again, if you chose the route of a mentor-led online bootcamp, this is the time to speak to your mentor to guide you through this hellish desert.

The Upswing: Things are now starting to come together. Enjoy it. You’ll build even more confidence with practise. Eventually, you’ll have great pride in the work you do and the code you write.

4. What are your time and commitment pressures?

You may reach the same end point whether you choose a solo study option or a mentor-guided program, that is, becoming a successful developer, but you also need to think about time. The chances are that it will take you longer if you’re doing it by yourself. It’s a matter of calculating how much it will cost you (e.g. lost salary) to take longer to qualify. Here’s a nifty Return on Investment (ROI) Bootcamp Calculator to help you visualize how your time and commitment investments will play out over the upcoming years.

5. Is a network of fellow programmers important to you?

Do you have a group of people you can consult for support or opportunities? If not, a mentor-guided online experience will help set you up with your fellow classmates who will be of use to you in your coding career.


Think about these questions honestly. Perhaps write down the answers to structure your thinking. Your responses should answer the question, ‘Can I learn to code on my own?’.  If you decide that you’d prefer a mentor-led online course, HyperionDev offers three 6-month part-time Online Bootcamps in Web, Mobile and Software Development. Book a free trial now!