New to Learning Code? Check Out the Best Free Resources

No need to grab out your wallets to get started in this field

Photo by Dose Media on Unsplash

If you have access to a computer with an internet connection, you can become a programmer.

Despite what some people may say, you do not need to go get a computer science degree in order to get a job as a programmer. Nor do you need to drop $10,000+ on a coding boot camp, or even $10 on a course on Udemy!

Personal opinion: If you are going to spend money, stay clear of most boot camps. For the same price, or even far less, you can get accredited certificates or an Associate’s degree. You’ll also be closer to a Bachelor’s if you ever decide to go for one!

Nothing else is inherently wrong with any of those options. In fact, they may be the best choice for you depending on how you learn! Learning more can do nothing but help you, but we are here to talk about the free options.

Three of the best, free, online programs you can take to learn to code

While these are free, and online, they are also self-paced. This style of course requires high levels of motivation and personal accountability to complete. Many of these courses have large communities of current and former students that are an additional great resource.

CS50X by Harvard University

Starting with Harvard’s course run through Edx, CS50x is the most college-like experience amongst the three programs we will be going through. Using actual material used by the regular CS50 course, you can watch the recorded lectures, read the slides and notes, and even complete their weekly assignments (at your own pace)!

In addition to being the most like a college course, this program will also be more similar to material taught in a more traditional computer science program. It is a great option for beginners who are ready to dive in head-first into a challenging and rewarding program.

The Odin Project

The Odin Project is a project-based program focused around learning web development. Everyone starts off with the same Foundations course before moving on to either a full stack Ruby on Rails, or full stack JavaScript path — each made up of multiple courses to work through. Some of the lessons towards the end of the course will even help to prepare you for interviews and getting a job!

Special note: Unless you have a specific desire to learn Ruby on Rails, I would highly recommend at least starting off with the full stack JavaScript option.

free Code Camp

The last, but perhaps the best well known of the three is freeCodeCamp. They have recently switched to offering more project-based learning, much like The Odin Project, but still offer their legacy certificates.

Their program is structured into different certificates including Web Design, Back End Development, Machine Learning, and many others. Each certificate has many smaller projects with the occasional larger one to test your knowledge. After completing all required projects in a program, you will get a digital certificate of completion!

From Course to Career

Are these courses enough to land you a job? It depends. Growing your network, having a solid resume, and interviewing experience can all play a part as well. Many entry-level and even mid-level jobs will not expect you to know every last thing listed on a job posting, but will gladly accept a confident and eager to learn candidate if they are otherwise a great fit. Even after finishing any, or multiple, of these courses, the most important note I can leave you with is never stop learning. Learning will bring your career to new heights if you let it.

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JP Branski

JP Branski


A developer and author who likes to write a little bit about everything. Passions include self-improvement, volunteering, and continued learning!