5 years? 2 years? 5 months?

Or perhaps, it's an intense three-day haze, where sleep is a myth, and your body's composition seems to be tipping towards 70% coffee.


Estimating the duration required to master coding is not a straightforward task. This is because it largely depends on various factors and, more importantly, what you mean by "_knowing how to code_". If by this you imply acquiring a basic understanding of coding, then with full-time commitment, one could expect to gain proficiency in around three months.

If this rate of learning is sustained, by the five-month mark, one can potentially consider themselves an amateur developer, capable of working with specific technologies and transforming their concepts into functioning code.

When you reach about a year, you've likely cultivated a broader understanding of IT development and become ripe for entry-level developer positions.

My insights have been distilled from numerous years of observing and nurturing the growth of students in their coding journey. Keep in mind, the time it takes for you to learn will largely depend on certain pivotal factors and subtle nuances that you'll need to consider carefully.

Why Knowing How to Code Does Not Mean Being a Developer

I want you to consider "knowing how to code" as a means to an end rather than an end in itself.

Let's illustrate this with an analogy, likening coding to baking. Suppose you love to whip up a batch of brownies over the occasional weekend. Does that make you a baker?


No, not really.

Yet, a baker performs the same task.

While the folks at work may think you the MasterChef of Brownies, I hate to be the one to tell you that the professional is on a whole different level.

A baker's expertise, honed over years of kneading dough from dawn till dusk, extends beyond the culinary arts.

Thy also have an extensive repertoire of recipes that include bread, baguettes, croissants, quiche, scones, cupcakes, and a wide array of other delicacies.

Furthermore, they understand inventory management, customer service, pricing strategies, and more.


Much like the baker, the profession of developer is not simply limited to the completion of their main tasks. It's about bringing a whole set of skills and abilities together.

Being a developer is really about:

  • Understanding which tool (programming language) is appropriate for which task
  • Diving into an existing code base and comprehending how it functions
  • Breaking down problems and devising effective solutions
  • Facilitating seamless handovers of work to colleagues

The multifaceted role of a developer demands substantial time investment in learning and gaining practical experience.

When discussing timelines, it's important to differentiate between "knowing how to code" and your ultimate aim of becoming an employable software developer.

So, bearing that in mind, let's delve into some of additional factors of consideration.

Before Asking The Question, Consider these Points

What is your starting point?

Everyone embarks on their coding journey from different points.

Some individuals might have a slight head start on their coding journey.

Anyone who as a kid dabbled in game modding or has already practiced some HTML and CSS, will have a leg up over someone who is opening a code editor for the first time.

However, remember that every journey begins with a single step. If you are just venturing into the world of coding, don't be discouraged. We all have to start somewhere.

How will you learn to code?

It is difficult to define a general duration for learning to code when different courses, from university majors and bootcamps, each require degrees of personal investment from their students

Furthermore, other aspects can influence your learning process.

  • Do you have direct support from a mentor or instructor?
  • Are you part of a group of fellow learners, providing mutual motivation and encouragement?
  • How high-quality are the educational resources at your disposal?
  • These considerations can significantly impact the pace and effectiveness of your learning journey.

What Do You Hope to Achieve?

What does it mean for you to 'know how to code'? The definition varies widely among individuals. It could be:

  • Developing a game from scratch, bringing your creative ideas to life.
  • Transitioning into a professional career as a programmer, contributing to the world of tech.
  • Building your own blog, providing a platform for your thoughts and insights.

Remember, your goals will shape your learning path and the time it takes to reach the milestone of 'knowing how to code'. It's not a one-size-fits-all journey, but a personalized adventure tailored to your ambitions and aspirations.

The Three Levels: A Learn To Code Timeline (From Scratch)

The proposed timelines here are based on three key factors discussed earlier.

You're a complete beginner following an intensive, full-time course of learning to become a Professional Developer.

Level 1: At Least Three Months To "Knowing Code"

This stage marks the commencement of your coding adventure, filled with exploration and the initial baby steps into this new realm.

Post three months of intensive learning, you can confidently claim to have 'learnt to code'. This implies gaining proficiency in a handful of technologies and comprehending their practical applications.

Bear in mind that this period necessitates intensive training, with coding becoming your daily rhythm. Be prepared for a marathon of coding sessions from dawn till dusk (which might mean bidding temporary goodbye to your weekend brownie-baking sessions!).

3.2. Level 2: At Least Five Months To ‘Knowing How To Use Code’

Three months have passed, you have a good handle of HTML, CSS and programming fundamentals in a language such as JavaScript.

You comfortable with the basics of a front-end framework like React. You can also build out a simple backend and database.

You're well on your well.

If you maintain this vigorous pace of learning, it will roughly take an additional two months to truly nurture the skills that characterize an amateur developer: Applied expertise.

Being a developer is not just about putting lines of code into a text editor. It's about building things that work.

While the first three months laid the technical foundation, it's during this stage that you start to hone in.

You code a personal website and really start to really beef up your portfolio.

You'll also dive deeper into a particular language or stack, uncovering its intricate details and idiosyncrasies, thereby initiating the process of specialization.

You may start contributing to open source projects, working on real, live codebases and collaborating with other developers. It's a great way to gain experience and to learn coding best practices.

By this point, you're still relatively new to the developer's sphere, but the journey continues, and it only goes upward from here.

3.3. Level 3: At least a Year To “Knowing How to Develop”

After about a year of continuous learning and practical engagement, you're ready to transition from the realm of code manipulation to the artistry of development.

Welcome to the stage of 'knowing how to develop'. This stage is about seeing the bigger picture and may involve the following.

  • Comprehensive Project Involvement: You're now capable of taking on full-fledged projects. This could involve designing and developing a sophisticated web app, a mobile game, or a complex software solution. You'll not only write the code but also plan, manage, and coordinate the different aspects of the project.

  • Mastering Development Methodologies: You'll begin to understand and utilize various development methodologies such as Agile, Scrum or DevOps, adapting your workflow to become more efficient and organized. You're also comfortable collaborating with other developers, sharing your work, and utilizing tools like Git for version control, Slack for communication, or Jira for project management.

  • Debugging and Problem-Solving Mastery: Bugs and roadblocks are inevitable in the world of development. At this stage, you're not only adept at resolving these issues but also proficient in preventing them through effective coding practices.

  • Diving into Specialization: Your endeavors to specialize have borne fruit. This could be a specific field that resonates with you, such as back-end development, front-end development, full-stack, mobile app development, or even an ultra-specific area like AI programming, data science, or game development.

  • Understanding of System Architecture: You have a firm grasp on system architectures and can design the structure of software systems, considering scalability, security, and performance.

  • Keeping up with Industry Trends: The tech world is dynamic and ever-evolving. You're in tune with the latest technologies, programming languages, and industry trends, ensuring your skills remain relevant and cutting-edge.

After a year of relentless learning and practice, you're no longer a coding apprentice but a skilled craftsman.

But wanna know something.. Although, your journey has led you to this pivotal juncture. This is still just the start of a lifetime of continuous learning.

Decoding Varied Opinions of Coding Schools/Bootcamps on the Time it Takes to Learn Code

Choosing a suitable coding course can indeed be a daunting task, especially when different schools and bootcamps present contrasting views on the time needed to learn coding.

This variety of opinions is largely driven by the fiercely competitive nature of the training market. Every institution is looking to outshine others, using convincing arguments and captivating taglines to lure potential students.

In such a scenario, the onus falls on you to take a proactive role in gathering and assessing the necessary information. Here's a handy approach:

Get in touch with these institutions and discern their objectives, curricula, and outcomes. Arm yourself with a notepad, a pen, and a set of critical questions such as:

So grab your phone and pen and paper, asking questions like:

  • "What will be my learning milestones during these X months of training?” By asking this, you're looking to understand the specific skills and concepts you'll learn at different stages of the course. It'll give you a good sense of the pace at which you'll be learning and the depth and breadth of knowledge you'll acquire.

  • “How will this course accelerate my career aspirations?” This question is about connecting the dots between the course and your professional ambitions. You want to know how the course content and structure align with your specific career goals, whether it's becoming a full-stack developer, a data scientist, or starting your own tech business.

  • “Will I be job-ready as a developer after completing your course?” This directly addresses your employability post-course. It's important to know if you'll have the necessary skills and knowledge to start applying for developer jobs right away. If possible, ask them to clarify what "job-ready" means to them, as interpretations can vary.

  • "Can you provide examples of past student successes or testimonials?" This can help you gauge the effectiveness of the program and its track record in helping students achieve their goals.

  • "What kind of support will I have access to during the course (mentorship, tutoring, peer interaction)?" This question aims to understand the level of support you'll receive outside of the structured learning materials.

  • "What real-world project experience will I gain during the course?" Practical experience is an important part of learning to code. Understanding what opportunities you'll have to work on projects will give you a sense of how much hands-on experience you'll get.

  • "What kind of commitment is required (hours per week) to successfully complete this program?" This will help you understand if the program fits into your current lifestyle and schedule.

Gather the questions and answers (with a healthy dose of skepticism) from all prospective schools in order to settle upon the one that best meets your personal aims within the time frame suggested by the organization.

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