How to Learn to Code for Free in 2024: The Complete Step-By-Step Guide
You do not need to be a student at a college or university to learn to code and advance your technology career. You can learn coding for free from the best free coding bootcamps and massive open online course (MOOC) platforms, both of which feature online coding courses with full curricula. Detailed tutorials are also offered by major tech companies like Apple, which directly benefit from boosting your coding skills.
Given the incentives, tech industry experts are often the ones designing and running free workshops on the most popular programming languages and the fundamental concepts of coding. In this article, we will survey free online coding courses, interactive tutorials, and other resources that cover how to code for complete beginners, intermediate learners, and even professionals at an advanced level. By using these resources to your advantage, you can learn to code for free.
Why Learn Coding?
You should learn to code because it will open you up to a slew of employment opportunities. You can become a software engineer, web developer, mobile app developer, or computer programmer. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for software developers will increase by 25 percent from 2022 to 2032.
1. Choose a Skill
To find the best free coding training, you first need to decide what you want to do with your programming skills. Which language you choose depends on your motivation to learn to code for free in the first place. The following are three common reasons why people want to learn coding for free:
- Learn a new programming language
- Build a project or customize platforms
- Start a career
Some people simply want to add a new programming language to their repertoire. This is especially common for programming professionals who want to pivot to another role or career in their field. Oftentimes, professionals recently hired need to learn the programming languages used by the new company, as they may differ from the ones they currently use or learned when receiving their education.
Some people learn to code for free because they want to build a project of their own, like a website, app, or game. Further, people may choose to learn to code for free because they want to customize aspects of a platform such as WordPress, Salesforce, or Amazon Web Services. People can also make careers out of these skills.
A final reason, and often one of the main reasons people want to learn to code for free, is to begin a coding career. With many roles in the tech field only requiring technical skills and key soft skills like teamwork, collaboration, and communication, almost anyone can transition into a coding career. Being able to gain the necessary skills for free alleviates one of the major barriers to changing to a tech career: spending thousands of dollars on the cost of tuition.
Learn a New Programming Language
Advancements in the science and art of computer programming have made it much easier for coding newbies to write simple, fast, and high-quality code. The highly functional programming languages listed below were developed with these criteria in mind. They are great options for beginners, students, or anyone trying to advance their careers.
|Language||Used For||Average Salary For This Skill|
|1. Python||Cyber security, machine learning, data science, web and software development, web and software applications||$96,000|
|2. HTML||Front end development, full stack development||$71,000|
|4. Java||Cloud software, machine learning, game development||$100,000|
|5. Swift||Software development, mobile application development||$106,000|
|6. Ruby||Backend development, UX/UI design, product management||$109,000|
|7. SQL||Data science, software engineering, cyber security, database management||$85,000|
|8. C and C++||Machine learning, cyber security, mobile application development||$96,000|
|9. PHP||Backend development, WordPress development, mobile application development||$78,000|
|10. Kotlin||Mobile application development||$108,000|
Build a Project or Customize Platforms
Choosing which coding skills to learn may come from wanting to learn how to complete a particular coding project like building a website, a mobile application, or even a virtual game. For projects like this, a range of coding languages and other programming tools and software may be required, and there are free coding courses available that can take you through each step.
Or, your goal in learning to code for free may be to learn the skills needed to program for certain platforms or operating systems such as WordPress, Android, Apple (iOS), Salesforce, or Amazon Web Services. In these cases, the programming languages may be designed for a platform or operating system in particular, like Swift for Apple products, or be used specifically by a platform but can also be universally used, like PHP for WordPress.
Start a Career
Many people who want to learn how to code for free have a career goal or transition in mind and hope to use their newly acquired skills to land a coding job. Coding careers offer lucrative salaries alongside attractive benefits packages and remote work opportunities, which can facilitate a desirable lifestyle for those with a passion for coding.
Careers in coding are in high demand today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for software developers will increase 25 percent from 2022 to 2032, the demand for data scientists will see 35 percent growth in the same time period, and the demand for information and cyber security analysts will grow 32 percent through 2032.
Common jobs that use coding include:
- Web developer
- Software engineer
- Cyber security analyst
- Data analyst
- Data scientist
- Computer programmer
- Game developer
- Mobile app developer
- Database administrator
- UX/UI designer
- Business intelligence analyst
- Cloud architect
2. Choose a Learning Format
Knowing why you want to learn coding skills will help you find the best way to learn to code for free. Today, there are thousands of courses available across a wide variety of learning formats to learn every coding skill. Some formats even offer entire curricula dedicated to landing a job at the end. Below, we break down the types of learning formats to learn to code for free:
- Free Coding Bootcamps
- Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
- Free Online Resources
Free Coding Bootcamps
One of the most comprehensive ways you can learn to code for free is through free coding bootcamps. Bootcamps provide intensive programs aimed at educating students for employment in coding careers like web development or software engineering after graduating.
The best free coding bootcamps are led by experienced instructors and involve curricula focused on programming languages, coding theory, coding tools, and programming best practices. A coding bootcamp may be the best way to learn to code for free for career switchers as they provide career services like resume review, career coaching, and interview prep. Below are the best coding bootcamps to learn to code for free:
- 42. No formal education or skill level is required for students learning to code for free with 42. This in-person, self-paced program lasts 18 months to three years and boasts a 100% recruitment rate. Students from around the world can apply for the programs, with 31 countries represented within the 42 network.
- App Academy Open. Offered by renowned bootcamp provider App Academy, App Academy Open is a free learning platform offering unrestricted access to the same comprehensive curriculum featured in its 24-week online software engineering program.
- Careers in Code. This 24-week program is offered for free via scholarships for women and minority groups interested in a career in tech based in the New York area. It aims to provide the skills necessary for internships and entry-level software development jobs after graduation. The program is held in a hybrid format on a part-time learning schedule.
- The Data Incubator. Aimed toward experienced programmers, this four-month coding bootcamp is offered as a fellowship program for aspiring data scientists. A few scholarships are available that cover the full tuition. This program goes a step further than most free coding programs by connecting its students with its hiring partners to help them land jobs after completing the program.
- Mississippi Coding Academies. This non-profit organization provides an 11-month full-time coding bootcamp program focusing on full stack web development courses. Held in-person, students gain valuable hands-on experience and learn from industry experts.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
MOOCs are courses offered by online platforms, oftentimes in conjunction with major academic bodies. However, today, there are also MOOC platforms that have no such partnerships and simply host courses and classes instructed and uploaded by professionals in the field.
Coding courses on these platforms offer targeted learning based on the specific skills you want to learn. For example, you could enroll in a robust full stack web development program that covers multiple coding languages, frameworks, and development theory, or you can take a course strictly focused on mastering one coding language, framework, or concept.
Below are some of the most popular MOOCs today, each of which offers hundreds or even thousands of online classes to learn to code for free.
Coursera boasts over 100 million registered users and is associated with over 150 universities from around the world, making it one of the most trusted ways to learn to code online. The courses featured on the platform are designed and endorsed by some of the most influential higher learning institutions and organizations in the world of tech.
Depending on the scope, a Coursera course can range in length from a matter of hours and days to a few weeks or even a few months. The course material is free and so are the audio and visual resources. However, you will need to pay for your certificate.
One of the best learning platforms around, edX offers courses in partnership with some of the most prestigious tech companies, colleges, and universities in the world. The courses run the gamut of programming skills, from programming basics and Python fundamentals for beginners to full stack development courses for professionals. A typical course on edX lasts about a month.
This United Kingdom-based MOOC is owned by The Open University and boasts six million learners. It offers thousands of courses from top universities and professional organizations designed for learners of all levels, from absolute beginners to experts. Learning is self-paced and materials include readings, videos, and quizzes.
The vast majority of Pluralsight courses are created and delivered by experienced professionals. Typically, courses range from a few minutes to several weeks or months. There are free online coding classes for beginners, intermediate learners, and experts. Most of the courses come with a 10-day free trial, which is enough time to complete many of the coding classes.
Rather than partner with universities and other higher learning institutions, Udacity partners with tech companies to create their courses, which are designed to help learners of any level gain key tech skills. To officially enroll in a program and earn a Udacity nanodegree, students must pay a fee. However, the curriculum and learning materials are accessible at no cost.
Udemy’s mission is to make quality education accessible to all. Today, Udemy is a truly massive MOOC, with over 64 million users and more than 210,000 courses available. At the time of writing, Udemy offers 2,906 free online IT and software courses, with 1,804 free coding classes online for beginners.
Free Online Coding Platforms and Resources
Online coding platforms and resources are designed for both beginners and more experienced coders. Learning to code for free through online resources or platforms is typically a hassle-free way to gain skills on your own schedule. The following free coding classes, courses, and platforms were selected because of their accessibility and self-paced material.
Android Training, developed by Google, offers Android courses comprised of user-friendly video resources specifically designed to give you practical, hands-on experience. The curricula are broken up into manageable units, each of which involves a series of interactive tutorials that help you build confidence and competence as you learn to develop basic applications using the Kotlin programming language.
The Apple Developer Training platform is designed for people who want to learn Swift, Objective-C, and Xcode. The courses are organized into a series of chapters, which are followed by exercises that test what you’ve learned. The courses will equip you with the knowledge necessary to earn Apple certifications for Swift, Xcode, or Objective-C. Apple also offers an iOS App Developer program.
Cisco Networking Academy
The Cisco Networking Academy provides a wide range of courses for IT professionals. While Cisco’s core business is networking, the online platform also features severalf programming courses. Along with coding education and guidance, it offers pathways to several badges and certifications.
Codecademy courses can take anywhere from just a few hours to several weeks to complete. The courses focus on a specific subject, which means you can work on one topic at a time and become proficient at that particular skill. You can earn a certificate upon completing a course, although not for free. Further, Codecademy offers extensive opportunities to collaborate with peers and instructors.
One of the best ways to learn to code for free is with freeCodeCamp. The platform has more advanced courses and most require about 300 hours of your time. Each of the courses is broken up into subjects, and the platform has a simple widget that helps you keep track of your progress. The platform also offers resources to help you prepare for job applications, including coaching for coding job interviews.
Launched in 2006, before MOOCs took off as a learning format, Khan Academy is a trailblazer in remote and free skills acquisition. This non-profit organization offers a broad range of math and science courses, among other subjects, to school-aged children from K-12. However, it has since evolved to offer courses for all ages.
This free coding platform gives access to material from over 2,500 courses that can be downloaded at your leisure. The courses are available through audio and video lectures, delivered by real MIT professors. The coding courses start with programming concepts before moving on to language-specific sections. Though now self-paced, these free courses are based on courses that, in their original form, took a semester to complete.
The Odin Project
The Odin Project is geared toward students who want to learn web development. It is essentially a one-stop shop for all things related to coding. The learning process is structured as a series of tutorials, blogs, and courses with projects designed to put your learning into practice. Despite being online, the platform gives you ample opportunities for collaboration, and course programs are regularly updated.
The Python Institute offers a manageable pathway to Python certification for anyone looking to advance their careers. For each of its three Python certifications, there are study resources and other important pieces of information available on the website. The Python Institute is associated with Pearson VUE, Cisco Systems, and Fundacja IT.
The downloadable resources on Python’s official platform cover a broad range of formats. There are audio and video resources, guides and essays for beginners, and an active online community of developers promoting information-sharing and extensive collaboration.
Upskill’s more than 200 free lessons focus on web development and programming and are designed to be completed sequentially. The courses are instructor-led, and you will have full access to the audio and video resources once you sign up for a free account. The lessons are regularly updated to keep pace with the latest industry trends.
Best Free YouTube Coding Tutorial Channels
Learning coding for free can be as simple as opening YouTube. There are hundreds of channels dedicated to teaching aspiring coders any programming language or coding concept. Video tutorials vary from standalone videos covering an entire coding language to whole playlists that function as courses. Below are 5 of the best free coding tutorial channels on YouTube.
|Derek Banas||1.26 million||Machine learning, data science, game development, Python, Java, PHP, MySQL, C++|
|LearnCode.academy||767,000||Web development, web design|
3. Start a Course
After choosing the skill or skills you’d like to learn, and deciding on which learning format works best for you, it’s time to choose a course. Factors to consider when choosing a free coding course include curricula, duration (hours, weeks, or months), intensity (full-time or part-time), pace (self or guided), and location (in-person or online). By being selective about what works best for your unique lifestyle and needs, you’re more likely to enjoy your program and complete it.
Bootcamps typically take months to complete, at a full-time and guided pace, and can be offered in-person or online. MOOCs are offered online, can take days or weeks to complete, and can be completed at a full-time or part-time pace as they as self-guided. Online resources can vary widely, from hours to months to complete, at various paces and intensities. YouTube courses are self-paced, online, and as intense as you desire.
Below is a list of courses offered by the various coding bootcamps, MOOCs, online resources, and YouTube channels listed above.
4. Join a Community
You don’t have to learn to code for free on your own. Programming communities exist on multiple platforms and formats to provide help, camaraderie, and advice for the times when you get stuck or are looking for insights into a programming language, programming job, or what a day in the life of a programming professional looks like. Joining a programming community while learning to code can propel your learning even further.
Becoming a part of a programming community can help make the learning experience more fun and interactive, not to mention much easier. Coding professionals love to lend a hand to newbies and provide assistance and advice when possible.
Some of the most well-known and robust coding communities you can join today are GitHub, StackOverflow, Women Who Code, CodeProject, Dev.to, and Python.org.
Joining a Discord community is a great way to interact with other coders from a wide range of backgrounds. These communities attract beginners to programming along with professionals currently working in entry-level, mid-level, and even senior-level positions across a wide range of tech careers.
In programming Discords, you can find discussions about industry news and trends, coding questions and solutions, and even job hunt help and career advice. The following are some top programming Discords that are active today, some with tens of thousands of members:
- Programmer’s Hangout
- Together C and C++
- World of Coding
- The Coding Den
Reddit is a busy place for programmers to come together to learn, vent, and help one another. Newbies to programming can find valuable tips and tricks in the following programming subreddits:
5. Build Portfolio Projects
The final step in learning to code for free is applying your knowledge to coding projects that help you hone your new skills. If you are learning to code to build a project or customize a platform, you will develop your coding skills by working on this project or goal throughout your learning.
For people learning a new programming language to add to their skillset or to transition into a coding career, creating and building portfolio projects helps them refine their skills and problem-solving and showcases their knowledge and creativity to current or future employers.
Developing a programming portfolio full of coding projects is a vital final step in this journey, and there are many online resources available to give you ideas or coach you through completing them. Some projects focus on one programming skill, such as Python project ideas. Other projects are more expansive in nature, helping you showcase your understanding of a career field, such as data science projects.
Should I Learn to Code for Free?
You should learn coding for free if you’re passionate about learning how to program, comfortable with math, good with computers, and equipped with problem-solving skills. The programming skills you can learn with the help of free online coding courses can take your career in any number of directions. If vocational versatility and high pay sound enticing to you, learning to code might just be the perfect next step.
The Odin Project does not give certificates for completing courses. However, certificates from online coding courses don’t matter as much to employers and hiring managers. A better way to show your skills is to have a strong coding portfolio. The skills learned during the Odin Project courses will help you develop a robust portfolio of projects that showcase your newly acquired skills.
You can learn coding in a matter of minutes, and even write small programs after an hour or two of instruction. However, it may take weeks or months before you can build web or mobile applications or apply programming skills to a broader range of uses. Some coding languages are easier to learn than others.
The easiest coding language to learn is Python, due to its simple syntax and “less is more” approach to programming. Python is a beginner-friendly language and even those that are just starting can write lines of functional code quickly and easily.
It is not hard to learn coding because there is an enormous wealth of resources available today, both free and paid. Coding classes in a wide range of programming languages are available in various formats so you can learn when it’s convenient for you. For example, coding bootcamps provide the structure that many students need to stay committed while massive open online courses (MOOCs), online learning platforms, and YouTube tutorials are great options if you are self-motivated.