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How to learn code online and become a programmer in 2024

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Whether they go by the title coder, developer, software engineer, hacker, or programmer, those who can help create computer programs, apps, sites or systems are in hot demand — and you can earn a high salary writing code without a formal education.

Bloomberg calls the software development job market “the highest demand market in 20 years,” with the unemployment rate in this sector at half of the unemployment rate overall.

The newswire reports:

“While companies are writing bigger checks, they are also adopting new strategies to find engineers for an economy where software is penetrating even mundane processes. Companies are focusing more on training, sourcing new talent through apprenticeships, and looking at atypical pools of candidates who have transferable skills.”

As every single vertical of our professional and personal lives is moving online — to phone apps and functions, voice-activated artificial intelligence like Alexa and Google Voice, manufacturing and retail systems — anything involving a screen and digital communication.

While computers are replacing humans in many ways, someone must do the back-end work that creates and runs that technology. Programmers are the professionals that create software that runs our phones, computers, apps, websites, and systems.

If you have technology skills already or you simply want to learn, a career in coding and computer technology could be a safe bet. Keep reading to find out what coders do, how well this job pays, and how to get started in this growing field:

How to become a coder without a college degree

If you want to become a coder, there are two main avenues to get you there. You can either earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, or you can take steps to learn some basic computer languages and learn how to code online from the comfort of your home.

The fastest way to become a coder is to focus on web development since this is one area that is bursting with potential. Pretty much every business needs a website these days, right? With a solid background in coding and some basic experience, you can begin providing coding services in your area or online.

13 jobs that pay well and do not require a degree

Step 1: Take coding courses online. 

The good news about coding education is that all kinds of colleges and organizations offer free resources you can access online. 

You can take an introductory computer science course for free through Harvard’s edX, for example. And actually, Harvard offers all kinds of free online courses in technology such as data science, Python, and JavaScript.

Udemy offers coding courses for very affordable prices — some free, others starting at $17.99 — at every level, from beginner to advanced languages like Python and CSS, as well as job interview and career skills for programmers.

Step 2: Learn by doing by practicing coding from scratch. 

Spending time figuring out computer markup languages such as HTML and CSS on your own. Practice makes perfect, and that you’ll learn a lot by making your own mistakes and figuring out how to fix them. 

You’ll also want to learn how to use JavaScript for front-end web development, and a language such as PHP for back-end development. Remember that you can take free courses in these languages, but the best way to learn to use them is through experimentation on your own. In the end, employers are looking for proven skills more than a degree or certificate.

Python is a great, universal language to learn because it is commonly used and easy to understand and use. There is a large, free programming community and open documentation that makes Python a very accessible and flexible tool for all levels. 

Step 3: Build a few websites or apps on your own. 

Take the time to visualize, create, and build your own websites or apps. Try and fail, then try again. The best way to gain the experience you need is to try and fail on your own until you finally succeed.

Step 4: Look for new clients, either paid or pro bono. 

Once you have some products that showcase your own work, offer your coding services for free at first so you can get some experience under your belt. Find potential clients online through websites like and, or by asking people you know who might need help.

Step 5: Find junior programmer jobs.

Check out job boards such as, and CareerBuilder. Both feature an ever-changing roster of entry-level positions.

Coding for beginners — where to learn coding online

Whether you are a beginner, or an experienced programmer who is ready to learn a new language or coding skill, there are several solid online courses for you.


Coursera offers thousands of online classes, many of them from tenured professors at top universities, in a wide range of subject matters, from the humanities to life sciences and more. Many classes are free, and others less than $100 for semester-length programs.

Each of these programming and coding classes has a free 7-day trial, and comes with a sharable professional certificate of completion:

Google Data Analytics

In this course, you’ll learn: 

  • How to clean and organize data for analysis
  • How to complete analysis and calculations using spreadsheets, SQL and R programming
  • How to visualize and present data findings in dashboards, presentations and common visualization platforms

Google Project Management

In this course, you’ll learn: 

  • How to create effective project documentation and artifacts in various project phases
  • Foundations of Agile project management, with a focus on implementing Scrum events, building Scrum artifacts, and understanding Scrum roles
  • Strategic communication, problem-solving, and stakeholder management through real-world scenarios

Google UX Design

In this course, you’ll learn: 

  • How to empathize with users, define pain points, ideate solutions, create wireframes and prototypes, test and iterate on designs
  • Basics of UX research, like planning research studies, conducting interviews and usability studies, and synthesizing research results
  • Foundational UX concepts, like user-centered design, accessibility, and equity-focused design
  • How to create a professional UX portfolio that includes 3 end-to-end projects: a mobile app, a responsive website, and a cross-platform experience

IBM Data Science

In this course, you’ll learn: 

  • All about data science and what a data scientist’s job entails, plus methodology to think and work like a data scientist 
  • Tools, languages, and libraries used by professional data scientists 
  • How to import and clean data sets, analyze and visualize data, and build and evaluate machine learning models and pipelines using Python 
  • How to apply various data science skills, techniques, and tools to complete a project and publish a report 

Google IT Automation with Python

In this course, you’ll learn: 

  • How to automate tasks by writing Python scripts
  • How to use Git and GitHub for version control
  • How to manage IT resources at scale for physical and virtual machines in the cloud
  • How to analyze real-world IT problems and implement strategies to solve those problems

IBM Technical Support

In this course, you’ll learn: 

  • Day-to-day IT support tasks, including computer assembly, wireless networking, installing programs, and customer service
  • How to provide end-to-end customer support, ranging from identifying problems to troubleshooting and debugging
  • How to use systems like Linux, Domain Name Systems, Command-Line Interface, and Binary Code

IBM DevOps and Software Engineering

In this course, you’ll learn: 

  • How to develop a DevOps mindset, practice Agile philosophy and Scrum methodology
  • How to create applications using Python language, using various programming constructs and logic, including functions, REST APIs, and libraries
  • How to build applications composed of microservices and deploy using containers (e.g. Docker, Kubernetes, and OpenShift) & serverless technologies
  • Tools for automation, continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD) including Chef, Puppet, GitHub Actions, Tekton and Travis

IBM Mainframe Developer

In this course, you’ll learn: 

  • How to identify the different architectural families, explain the enhancements for each architecture family and the functions of an operating system
  • How to explain the concept of a Sysplex and describe methods available for z/OS security
  • How to define the IOCP statements for the IOCDS and explain the concept of activation profiles
  • How to describe the process of IPLing an operating system


Codeacademy is a leading, recognized site for developer, coding, web and app development, data science, machine learning and related skills. Courses typically run 6 to 10 weeks, and are taught by experienced industry leaders.

Price: $19.99/month for unlimited access.

Codeacademy reports 45 million students have taken its courses.

Codeacademy’s monthly fee includes courses in:

  • HTML & CSS
  • Python
  • JavaScript
  • Java
  • SQL
  • Bash/Shell
  • Ruby
  • C++
  • R
  • C#
  • PHP
  • Go
  • Swift
  • Kotlin
  • Web Development
  • Data Science
  • Computer Science
  • Developer Tools
  • Machine Learning
  • Code Foundations
  • Web Design
  • Game Development
  • Mobile Development
  • Data Visualization
  • Cybersecurity


edX is a platform on which nearly 200 top universities offer a wide range of academic and continuing education courses — including from Harvard, Berkeley, MIT, University of Texas and more. 100% free. 


Simplilearn is another leader in online learning in digital developer skills, but a level up from Codeacademy. Simplilearn offers master certificate programs taught by leaders from major tech companies like Uber, Google, Microsoft and Facebook.

Simplilearn courses are self-guided, come with 24/7 assistance and support, and practical assignments, learning tools and guides. This is closer to a more traditional academic training with exams and a certificate award.

The Simplilearn website is robust, and each course description describes the real-life applications for the skills being taught, as well as salary and job market data. Courses start at around $700 each, and include lifetime access, as well as use of related courses for free.

Course topics include blockchain, digital marketing, big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, full stacks developer, ITIL and Six Sigma.

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Udemy is an incredibly popular online learning platform that offers courses on a wide variety of topics, including on programming languages like C++, C#, Java, React, JavaScript, and Python.

Python is a particularly valuable coding language to consider learning, used in everything from software development, data analysis, automation, and data visualization. One of the best Python Courses currently available on Udemy is their Complete Python Pro Bootcamp for 2024.

The course is designed to help you master Python in as little as 100 days. Each day, you'll be given anew project designed to teach you new skills, from building websites and games to apps and data science.

Why we love Udemy's Complete Python Pro Bootcamp for 2024:

  • Well structured course that break down coding into easy to digest pieces. Broken up over 100 days with roughly 1 hour spent per day.
  • Project oriented approach: Each day has a coding challenge to apply what you have learned and builds upon previous days as you continue through the course.
  • Tons of great reviews: More than 216,000 students have completed the course, which has a score of 4.7 out of 5 stars based on more than 47,500 ratings.
  • Covers a wide array of topics from creating websites, apps, and games from one of the students I know (Garrett!).

Coding for beginners — where kids can learn coding online

If your child is interested in coding, you can find kid-friendly coding courses online.

Free options like Google’s Code Next aim to teach coding and computer skills to teens in underserved communities. However, anyone can access their free online curriculum and learn coding at home.

Paid options like CodeMonkey are affordable and don’t require any experience to get started.


CodeMonkey offers online coding courses for students in kindergarten through 8th grade. The curriculum uses real programming languages but does it in a way that feels like playing a game. The program uses animation and drag-and-drop style navigation to help children learn.

CodeMonkey offers a free, 14-day trial with no credit card required at signup. Courses are self-directed, made to go at your child’s pace. You can upgrade for as little as $6 per month for one child or $12 per month for up to three children.

Families who homeschool can set up a homeschool account that supports up to five students and two teachers starting at $20 per month. 

It takes less than a minute to set up an account. You can register as a parent and create and account for your child, or your child can set up an account with your permission.

Once registered, your child can start taking courses, which range in difficulty from beginner to advanced.

CodeMonkey is a great option for its affordability, ease of use, and the fun way it teaches complex coding.

Get started with CodeMonkey to introduce your kids to coding >>


codeSpark is an app built to teach kids ages 5-10 coding (though any age can use it) through fun game design. coSpark includes:

  • Unlimited coding challenges
  • New skills introduced weekly
  • Hundreds of education puzzles
  • Access for up to 3 children

codeSpark uses word-free technology so kids can learn to code even if they don't yet know how to read. The company uses funds from its at-home subscription to fund computer science programs at low-income schools.

codeSpark costs $9.99/month, and you can cancel at any time.

Use code FT14 for a free, 14-day trial on codeSpark >>

How long does it take to become a coder?

Some online coding courses can be taken in as little as six weeks, though they may only teach you entry-level coding skills. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field typically takes four years. 

These videos tell you more about what to expect:

Going back to school at 30 or 40: Is it worth it for single moms?

What kind of tasks do coders/programmers do?

We already mentioned how coders use source code to get computers to do what they want using their own language. However, the tasks involved in speaking with computers are more complex than that.

Tasks can also vary widely depending on the type of work a coder does most. A coder who works for a computer programming firm may work on a specific project for years, for example. A self-employed coder may instead focus on helping a startup build an app.

If you plan to work as a self-employed coder who operates their business from home, you will likely want to focus on code used to build websites, including HTML and CSS. Learning to understand and use these languages can go a long way toward helping you secure clients who need this type of help, and you can learn a lot of these skills on your own.

Still, coders from all industries perform many of the same tasks no matter what kind of work they do. The main workplace tasks of coders include:

  • Use computer languages to build websites and applications
  • Use computer languages to help clients with front-end and back-end development of their websites and programs
  • Write computer programs in a variety of languages including Java and C++
  • Update existing programs per client or employer specifications
  • Create and test new code for various projects

Keep in mind that this list is not all-inclusive. Coders who are self-employed and working from home may find themselves taking on additional tasks such as marketing their business. Work-at-home coders also need to do their own bookkeeping (or hire it out) and communicate with their clients directly.

The good news is, coding is mostly solitary work. Whether you get a coding job you can do from home, work as a self-employed coder, or pick up a full-time job in a physical office, you won’t have to interact with people all day long. Most coders work independently on their projects once they know what their clients or employers want, which can be a huge plus if you’re not huge on working in teams (right here — that is why I for years I have written at home, all by my lonesome — and loved it!).

What skills do you need to be a programmer?

This may seem obvious, but the main skill you need to become a coder, developer or programmer is a broad understanding of at least a few of the most popular computer languages.

You don’t need to become an expert on every language out there since technology is always changing, and new source code is created all the time, but you need to be proficient in at least a few that are used frequently in your area of coding work.

It also helps to have a general curiosity about technology and its applications. You don’t need to be obsessed with computers, but you need to feel comfortable working with one for the bulk of your workday.

Additional skills you’ll need include:

  • Problem-solving skills that allow you to troubleshoot and solve problems on your own
  • Self-reliance and discipline since you’ll mostly be working alone
  • Logic that allows you to assess and understand computer languages that may seem complex or confusing to others
  • Attention to detail since computer languages must be correct to work how you want them to
  • Patience to deal with numerous tedious and lengthy processes, especially since coding can be a painfully slow task on its own
  • An excellent memory since you’ll need to pull all sorts of information from the depths of your mind
  • Communication skills that allow you to effectively talk to clients and employers to gain insight into their needs

While some coders work for computer programming and design firms, others work in industries such as finance and manufacturing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that 5% of computer programmers are self-employed. Because so many businesses need the help of coders, professionals who work in this field are not limited to a specific industry.

How much do coders/programmers earn?

Salaries for coders can vary a lot depending on their level of skill and the type of jobs they take on. However, the fact that technology continues to take hold of our lives means that these workers are often paid handsomely for their knowledge and expertise.

Also, keep in mind that experts in some computer languages can earn a lot more than others. According to Glassdoor data, a senior Java developer can earn between $82,000 and $158,000 since that particular computer language is in high demand. An expert in Python could expect to earn $96,000 or more, but someone who mostly works with SQL may top out at around $88,000.

The lesson here? Become an expert in the coding languages that pay the most!

This sounds like a lot of money either way, but there are many factors that go into those salaries, ranging from how efficient you are to the coding languages you know, your experience, and even where you live. Coders in coastal cities and state capitals may earn more than rural coders due to an increase in demand for their skills as well as the higher cost of living in those areas, for example.

Also, note that self-employed coders could earn a lot more — or a lot less — depending on the type of work they do and the amount of work they take on. If you can fill your work calendar with clients and focus on one task such as building websites, you could earn a nearly unlimited income.At the end of the day, it’s a great time to become a coder since the demand for computer skills only seems to increase each year. The BLS notes that jobs with computers will increase 13% during the decade the ends in 2026, and that’s twice the pace of all other jobs combined.

Pros and cons of being a coder/programmer

Becoming a coder is a smart move if you love computers and working alone, but that doesn’t mean this job is perfect. Some of the main pros and cons of coding work include:

Pros of becoming a coder:

  • You can build your own business and work at home
  • Coders earn excellent wages for their skills and expertise
  • Coding jobs should be in demand for decades to come
  • You may not need a college degree to work as a coder

Cons of becoming a coder:

  • You will do almost all your work on a computer and by yourself (could be a pro or a con)
  • Technology is always changing and adapting, so you need to be a lifetime learner
  • You may earn less if you only become familiar with source code that isn’t in high demand

Coder vs programmer?

When trying to determine the difference between coder vs programmer, the answer depends on who you ask. These terms can all be interchangeable, according to some. Others argue there is a difference in skill level and expertise (see below). However, all these titles can all be referred to as a programmer. Roughly, it goes like this:


Coders are the least experienced level of programmers and are usually beginners skilled in just one coding language. Typically, a developer or programmer (see below!) creates the code, and assigns the task of code writing to a coder. Some people are offended by the term “coder” and prefer “junior developer or “junior programmer.”

These are some programmer jobs available with Microsoft:

  • Jr. Software Developer
  • Backend Developer
  • Front End Developer
  • Salesforce Developer
  • Full stack Developer

Programmers and software developers

The titles “programmer” and “software developer” are often used interchangeably and are more experienced than coders — typically capable of writing error-free code in a minimum of two to three coding languages.

Programmers and developers often oversee a software development project from start to finish, and are held responsible for the design and project management of developing an application.

A developer tends to be formally educated in computer science or engineering, whereas the other job titles may not require any formal education at all — but proof of competence.

The following related jobs are available through Amazon:

  • Software Development Engineer
  • Senior Software Development Engineer
  • Senior Software Dev Engineer
  • Software Development Engineer – Amazon Web Services Systems Manager
  • Technical Program Manager
  • Front End Engineer

Other coder names

Beyond the coder vs programmer issue, there are other coder names you should be aware of. Here are the major ones:


A hacker is someone who creates something new using code. This person is also a programmer, but not all programmers are hackers. Hackers are considered more innovative and creative than a developer.

Software engineers

Software engineers rank higher than programmers and developers, and are typically fluent in at least three programming languages and are responsible for high-level design and architecture of a product.

Engineers oversee the programmers and developers, who implement the more detailed aspects of the design. A software engineer is often responsible for setting up servers, tackling security, networking, hardware devices, etc.

There are many, many computer languages to work with and understand. For example, coders need to have a grasp on programming languages you have probably heard of such as Java, Python, JavaScript, and SQL, PHP, C++ and with other languages that are more obscure. With so many languages in use, coders need comfortable with the demand to stay current on tech and be constantly learning.

Software analyst

Someone assigned to document, dissect, and understand the need for the software. Usually, someone working directly with users to qualify and quantify their needs, but is not usually adept enough to know how to solve it.  Mostly the folks who can communicate well, but lack the technical capabilities to deliver.

Architect / Designer

Someone who has strong development experience. They also have conceptual skills to see the larger picture of how the software fits into the company’s larger systems and goals.

Heavily involved in the ‘why’ and not just the ‘how’. A software architect/designer has strong leadership, communication and management skills. This rule often combines the Developer and Analyst skill sets, and also has a lot of experience in the trenches with programming/coding.

What jobs use coding? 25 coding jobs you can get if you know how to code in 2024

According to a recent Glassdoor ranking of the 50 Best Jobs in America for 2022, several jobs for coders rank at the top of the list. Here are some of those jobs with their median base salary and the code languages you might need to learn.

  • Full Stack Engineer ($101,794) – HTML, CSS, JavaScript, plus a back-end language like Ruby, PHP, or Python
  • DevOps Engineer ($120,095) – Python, JavaScript, Ruby, Perl
  • Machine Learning Engineer ($130,489) – Python, R, Java, Javascript
  • Data Engineer ($113,960) – Python, Java, Scala
  • Software Engineer ($116,638) – Python, Java, C++, Scala
  • Java Developer ($107,099) – Python, Java, HTML, CSS, JavaScript
  • Back End Engineer ($112,384) – Python, Ruby, PHP, Java
  • Cloud Engineer ($118,999) – Python, Golang, Ruby, Java
  • UX Designer ($97,047) – HTML, CSS, JavaScript
  • Front End Engineer ($81,136) – CSS, HTML, JavaScript

These are some other jobs that use coding:

Where to find coding jobs

Remember how we said coders were in demand? They are, and you should find work much easier as a result.  Here are some of the best places to search for your first coding gig:

  • Check out job boards such as, and CareerBuilder. Both feature an ever-changing roster of entry-level and advanced coding positions, some of which are seeking remote workers.
  • Create a profile on and/or Use the platform to find coding work for individuals and businesses.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile to note your renewed focus on coding. You want to make sure your profile shows up in searches if someone is looking for a coder in your area.

To market yourself to potential clients, create a website that showcases who you are, and what you offer. Coding skills in action!

How to get coding jobs: Can I get a job coding from home?

Because most coding jobs only require a computer and internet access, coding is one of the best high-paying jobs you can do from home. In July 2022, there were nearly 140,000 remote developer and remote programmer jobs listed on

To build up your resume during and after training, consider applying to internships and taking on freelance coding jobs for clients through freelance sites like Upwork and Fiverr. Having these real life experiences will make you a more attractive candidate than someone applying to a job with just a coding certificate.

More work-from-home career opportunities:

Bookkeepers can earn a salary, or build a business earning $60+/ hour, which can be more than $100,000 per year. Entry-level bookkeeper jobs can pay $20/hour. Bookkeeper Business Launch is the top-rated online video course to help you start and run a successful, 6-figure bookkeeping business. Learn about other six-figure jobs.

Or, learn more about how to become a bookkeeper, including how to start a bookkeeping business and find bookkeeping jobs.

If you're good with numbers, you may also be interested in a career in medical billing and coding.

If you’re great with words, detail and grammar, you may also be interested in a proofreading career, which can pay $15-$30 hour from home, on your schedule. This post outlines what it takes to get started as a proofreader and how to find clients.

I’ve got even more work-from-home job opportunities here in this post.

How long does it take to become a coder?

Some online coding courses can be taken in as little as six weeks, though they may only teach you entry-level coding skills. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field typically takes four years.

What skills do you need to be a programmer?

This may seem obvious, but the main skill you need to become a coder, developer or programmer is a broad understanding of at least a few of the most popular computer languages.

How much do coders/programmers earn?

According to Glassdoor data, a senior Java developer can earn between $82,000 and $158,000 since that particular computer language is in high demand. An expert in Python could expect to earn $96,000 or more, but someone who mostly works with SQL may top out at around $88,000.

What jobs use coding?

These are some jobs that use coding: Computer Programmer, Web Developer, IT Support, Data Analyst, Project Manager, and UX Designer.

Can I get a job coding from home?

Because most coding jobs only require a computer and internet access, coding is one of the best high-paying jobs you can do from home. In July 2022, there were nearly 140,000 remote developer and remote programmer jobs listed on

One Comment

I am trying to break into this industry but would love to talk to someone that can give me unbiased information from types of coding, salaries, languages being used in my area etc. do you have any recommendations of where I can start?

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