5 steps to become a self-taught developer

5 steps to become a self-taught developer


A good friend of mine is an engineer and knows some basic coding. But he’s really interested in learning it more in-depth. Naturally, being an IT recruiter, he came to me for advice. And it got me thinking about all the no-cost/low-cost ways to learn to code.

I recently found out from a Mercer Mettl survey that 70 percent of developers are self-taught. That surprised me, so I thought, not all developers need to go to college to becoming a professional.

Now, I’m all for getting a college education. But, in the world of developers, there are alternatives to going to college to learn it. And these options offer continuing education for those who already work in the space and need to keep up with the tech changes. And we all know how fast technology is and will continue to change.

Here’s how I would advise you, just like I would my friend, how to proceed:

Step #1: Take online courses
Start with some online coding courses that are free (via a trial) or very affordable. Some good ones are Pluralsite, Udemy and Codeacademy. Doing this type of course lets you get a feel for coding to see if you like it. You should know pretty quickly if it’s for you or not. And if it’s not, you haven’t invested heavily in something you don’t want to pursue.

Step #2: Do your research
Invest further by doing some research via YouTube and blogs. A quick Google search for “YouTube learn to code” resulted in 1.6+ million results. There’s no shortage of videos to help you either learn to code or figure out if you really want to learn it. And there a ton of bloggers out there talking about how they started their career as a developer, the ups and downs, how much they are making, etc. Many times, it’s best to hear directly from people in the field.

Step #3: Try out a bootcamp
Once you’ve lit the fire for becoming a developer, then consider immersing yourself into a coding bootcamp. But keep in mind, they can be pricey – upwards of $20,000 depending on where you live. So, it’s best not to spend your money on a bootcamp unless you KNOW you want to be a developer. There are several bootcamps out there that will defer your tuition until you get a job or offer a money back guarantee, so I would start with those.

Step #4: Test your skills
You may be a “book smart” developer after your online courses and the bootcamp, but are you ready to apply it to real-world situations? Use tests like this one that gives you 6 front-end challenges to code to see if you’ve got what it takes.

Step #5: Network, network, network
Having the chops to be a developer is one thing but landing your first job is quite another. The best way to do that is to network with like-minded professionals. There are many Meetup groups all over the country dedicated to developers, such as these in Atlanta. Most of the events are free to attend and can be focused on a specific programming language or be a general networking/idea-sharing event. Either way, you get in front of your local tech community and meet other techies. And who knows, you may even see me and our other IT recruiters at these events and we’re always ready to help IT professionals find their next gig.

About the author
Christy Cifreo serves as Sr. IT Recruiter for Synergis. She has 15+ years of recruiting experience, focusing on IT positions. Prior to Synergis, she began her career in the staffing industry at a small boutique firm specializing in CRM and ERP recruiting. She also spent time at GE Energy as a recruiting and vendor coordinator. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Jacksonville State University. In her free time, Christy enjoys spending time with family, wake surfing and playing tennis.