Surely, you’re curious to know that answer immediately. In short, it purely depends on the chosen programming language and the format of your studies. Read this article to find out more about programming languages and ways to study them.
Below you’ll also find answers to some of the most popular questions about programming courses, such as: “Why are some courses shorter than others?”, “Will a longer course give me a better competitive edge?”, and others.
What factors determine the complexity of a programming language?
The primary factor that determines the complexity of a human language is syntax. Some may say that English is easier than Hungarian, as the former does not have so many case suffixes. With programming languages, the situation is the same. In C, which is a simple programming language, a semicolon is used to separate statements. In Prolog, which is a difficult programming language, statements can be separated with commas, semicolons, or periods, depending on their type.
The second factor is built-in functionality. Again, let’s use human language as an example. Kuuk Thaayorre, the language of the Cape York Australian aboriginals, lacks the words for "left" and "right”. If someone wants to turn to the left, they will say North, South, East, or West instead. Similarly, some programming languages are more straightforward and others ask you to take a roundabout route. For example, you need only one command to run the simple program “Hello, World!” in Python. The same can’t be said for other languages.
What’s the easiest programming language?
If your goal is to start coding as soon as possible, consider these simple and popular languages! When comparing their popularity, we’ll rely on the TIOBE rating. This organization has been analyzing code since 2000.
After you learn your first programming language, it will be much easier for you to master subsequent ones. The more languages you know, the wider your employment opportunities and the easier you’ll adapt to the quickly changing technological requirements. However, to start an IT career, it’s enough to learn just one programming language.
Will learning a difficult programming language afford me better career prospects?
If you put a lot of effort into learning a difficult programming language, it won’t necessarily guarantee a better return on investment for you. For example, Prolog, invented in 1972, boasts strong formal and theoretical backing but has gained little industry adoption. LISP, meanwhile, was created in 1958, when information technologies were very different from modern ones. Both are difficult to learn. If you start looking for vacancies for programmers who specialize in these languages, you’ll probably find around a dozen openings in the U.S. for Prolog and fewer than 100 vacancies for LISP.
Another example is Haskell. The latest version of this language saw light in 2010. It lacks a syntax that resembles that of a human language. You can’t ask it to “add”, “calculate” or “erase” with imperative verbs. Instead, Haskell relies on a complex hierarchy of patterns that are too challenging for beginners. In the U.S., there are only around 560 job offers for developers who know this language.
These sorts of languages still matter, in that they push the boundary for what a programming language is, and influence other languages. There are shades of LISP in Ruby, and bits of Haskell influencing Java — but as a first-time learner, you’re probably better off choosing something more refined.
An ideal programming language is easy to learn, allows you to build many different types of digital products, and is popular among employers.
What factors determine the duration of studies?
The duration of studies depends on:
- The complexity of the chosen language
- The course type and amount of knowledge
As for the amount of knowledge, each course has its purpose and a description that explains this purpose. For instance, a free YouTube course about the basics of Java can provide you only with information about this language. At a Java bootcamp, you can get hands-on guidance from experienced developers. Plus, you’ll benefit from structure and accountability in your learning.
Where should I learn a programming language?
There are several options available. The most popular are enrolling in a university, learning on your own at no cost, or attending a bootcamp. Below, we’ll list the pros and cons of each path, and how much time you can expect to spend studying.
University: the longest path
You can learn programming languages as part of a computer science degree at university. A typical bachelor’s program lasts four years. Be ready to devote the first two years to general subjects and focus on programming only by the third year. You can combine work with studies, but such a lifestyle requires a lot of physical and intellectual stamina. You’ll most likely be able to start earning money only after graduation.
- You’ll get a formal STEM degree. Some niches in IT require it — for instance, research laboratories.
- You most likely won't study software engineering, but computer science. The latter is actually a different, more theoretical field.
- A university is a great place to make professional connections and look for internships.
- It’s expensive. In the U.S., undergraduate studies for in-state students cost around $13,000-$14,000 in public universities. For out-of-state students, the price exceeds $44,000. Private universities charge over $50,000 for both graduate and postgraduate programs.
- If you’re planning to become a developer, it’s not necessary to have a university degree.
- You may not enjoy studying abstract theory. It's great for those who like it and can be useful, but to force it on those who don't want it isn't very effective.
Enrolling in university is the least likely option for people who want to switch jobs and start earning money quickly.
Free tutorials: the most accessible path
Google and YouTube can help you find free tutorials for any popular programming language. Depending on your motivation and diligence, you might be able to complete your studies in a couple of months and try to apply for a job.
- It’s the fastest and most affordable way of learning to code.
- You’ll acquire the precious skill of learning new things without supervision.
Your education will continue throughout your IT career. You’ll need to master new tools and technologies. Your employers will help you — but it’s also important to know how to find the necessary knowledge online without third-party help.
- You can never be sure whether the information that you get from free tutorials is accurate and up-to-date.
- There are no home tasks and no feedback from teachers.
- It may be difficult to organize yourself to complete a course without any supervision.
- You won’t get a certificate, but you can create a compelling portfolio on GitHub to compensate for it.
There is no one-fits-all criterion that would enable you to choose the genuinely best course. Just find a mentor whom you enjoy listening to, and who explains things in a manner that you find accessible.
Bootcamps: the golden mean
A bootcamp normally lasts from three to six months for a full-time program, or six to twelve months for the part-time one, which is much quicker than getting a higher education. The curriculum will be focused only on coding. The knowledge that you’ll get will also be highly geared toward practical applications, which is not always the case with the university.
- You can be sure all the information is accurate and up-to-date. It can be taught in many formats — lectures, practical assignments, or group work.
- You’ll get a formal certificate.
- You can ask teachers questions. They check your tasks and provide feedback.
- You’ll be able to establish contacts with other IT people.
- The process of studying at a bootcamp resembles the real-life experience of working in IT.
- Bootcamps aren’t free. Prices can vary greatly. If you prefer to study in person, be ready to pay around $13,500, on average. Selected online bootcamps cost less than $5,000.
In order to choose a high-quality bootcamp, be sure to check student reviews and teacher profiles. Is the organizer an established IT brand? If yes, it should be a trustworthy source of information. Some bootcamps share the career paths of their graduates, which will help you plan your own future.
To get an idea of what a high-quality bootcamp is, check out Practicum. It offers on-demand courses on data science, software engineering, data analytics, quality assurance, and business intelligence. You’ll master the programming languages required for the career path of your choosing. Thanks to the high practical value of the curriculum, as well as an interactive approach to studying, Practicum boasts a completion rate of 79%. It’s an ideal option for beginners who want to learn from scratch and do it part-time, without quitting their current jobs.
Choose an easy programming language and attend a bootcamp!