Coding for Beginners: A Simple Guide

Headshot of CareerFoundry contributor Eric Thompson.

Coding for beginners can be a life-changing endeavor. However, it can be daunting, with what seems to be a sea of unorganized information fighting for your attention. 

Don’t worry—with some guidance to organize those resources it becomes navigable. Here, we’ll be a way station to guide you along routes that’ll paint both the journey and destination for you.

Before pressing on, it’s important to make a distinction between coding and programming. While the two are often used interchangeably, there are differences between coding and programming to keep in mind. Programming tends to be a little more intensive, involving, at times, specific software and a deeper understanding of languages that may not be needed for coding.

If you’d like to skip ahead to a particular section, simply use the clickable table of contents:

  1. Why should I learn to code?
  2. Coding for beginners: A step-by-step guide
  3. Final thoughts
  4. Coding for beginners FAQs

1. Why should I learn to code?

Learning how to code opens up a plethora of opportunities. Those who know how to code are growing in demand, according to the US Bureau of Labor, as everything becomes increasingly digital, from tech giants down to the company that you already work at. With that demand comes good compensation; software engineers net, on average, $106,575 per year according to Glassdoor.

If you have dreams of working from home, becoming a digital nomad, or leaning into a healthy work-life balance, coding may be tailored just for you. Becoming a remote web developer, for example, needs only an internet connection to get a full work day in. 

You can go even further by being your own boss, creating your hours and rates as a freelance web developer. Your quality of life is more in your hands compared to a strict, in-office 9–5.

A few other benefits you’ll notice when you start learning to code are growing your problem-solving skills, a workspace that promotes creativity, and the knowledge to create personal projects on your own.

2. Coding for beginners: A step-by-step guide

There are oceans of information that promise to get you in the deep end of coding; it can feel like a whirlpool with resources coming at you from all sides. 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to something with the potential to be so life-changing. To simplify and add structure to your journey, here’s our step-by-step guide to assess and meet your needs.

A good way to think of this guide is to imagine yourself easing into the water, both in time and financial commitments. There’s a lot to consider, so start with a few questions before diving in, as well as ask along each step:

  • Start with the question “what is coding?”
  • How much time and money are you willing to spend on your journey?
  • What’s a comfortable speed and tempo for your journey?

Determine what your coding destination is

What are the areas that you’d like to find yourself in with coding? Be sure to be very specific here, as it will determine the journey that you take. 

Do you want to design websites, make video games, or develop an app? These tasks require different skills and programming languages, but coding is foundational.

Find beginner coding languages that best fit your direction

Once you’ve decided on your end goal, you can now look into languages that might be used in those industries. 

Ideally, if you’re coding for beginners it’s best to start with introductory languages. We’ll highlight specific ones in the FAQs, but these ones tend to resemble a spoken language in their syntax—the rules, structure, and readability of the written words in a coding language. A language that gives quick feedback is also the hallmark of a good beginner coding language.

Find free resources

The best way to test if coding is for you or quickly learn pieces of a new skill is to try free resources. The internet is packed with free coding resources, ranging from videos through assignments that you can do, with many offering paid versions for a seamless transition into a certificate.

These resources include but aren’t limited to:

Community and mentor

A coding community includes peers of varying experience levels that are also on track to learning how to code or have some experience in the field. Stack Overflow and Reddit are great places to find free communities.

A mentor is someone that is your senior that can give a depth of experience and context that might not be found in free resources.

Finding a mentor can be a little trickier, but LinkedIn is a good space to connect with those that have spent years in the industry. Think of a mentor as an unofficial teacher, someone to spend intentional time with that hones in on your needs.

Coding bootcamps

For more professional guidance and support, coding bootcamps, like a full-stack web development program, are a fantastic way to get a quality and structured education in the quickest way possible.

It usually takes 3-4 months at 40 hours per week to walk away fluent in a language with a strong portfolio. Be sure to interact with both your fellow students and teachers by contributing in discussions and “study buddy” programs to get the most out of your experience.


If you need a little bit more structured guidance, an independent tutor may be the breath of fresh air that makes the difference. While a lot of bootcamps and coding courses come with a dedicated tutor, many do not. 

These experienced teachers can help with some very specific problems in the workflow of a coding education. While private tutors can be pricey, they can certainly pay for themselves if they help you get into your desired career.

3. Final thoughts

You should be well on your way to establishing where you’d like to see yourself with coding and now have some resources to get you there. We’ve covered why you should learn coding, a step-by-step guide, and a litany of the more popular questions that are asked. You can now float in the seas of learning how coding for beginners works.

Again, think of our step-by-step guide as easing into the water. As you go through the free and low-commitment resources, you’ll get more of a feel of where you would want to end up. You’ll have a barometer to measure your comfort and commitment to coding with. If structure floats your boat, check out some coding bootcamps for the quickest and most efficient way to enter the industry.

Of these, the CareerFoundry Web Development Program offers one of the best possible starts. You can study flexibly online from anywhere in the world, yet still benefit from all the structure and guidance of classroom-based learning.

The course is broken down into six Achievements, so you’ll master all the essential coding skills in a logical order. What’s more, you’ll have a tutor and an expert one-on-one mentoryou’re not simply left to your own devices. Most importantly, the course gets you job-ready; you’ll build up an impressive web development portfolio throughout, and once you’ve graduated, your dedicated career specialist will help you find your first developer job.

If you’d like to read more about the world of coding, check out these articles:

4. Coding for beginners: FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions when it comes to learning how to code for beginners:

Can I teach myself coding?

Yes—free courses, resources, and communities are all around in the world of coding! 

With consistency and dedication, you can learn enough to build a strong portfolio to land a job or simply add coding skills to your repertoire. That said—this method of being a self-taught developer or software engineer is not for everyone. If you struggle with self-motivation, then, it’s recommended that you seek out a coding course or bootcamp.

Which coding program is best for beginners?

Some of the easiest programming languages to learn for beginners are HTML/CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Python, and Ruby. 

Based on their instant feedback, syntax, and dynamic type. Keep in mind, your needs will dictate which path you’ll learn first.

What jobs can coders do?

A non-exhaustive list of top coding jobs out there includes frontend developers, backend developers, full-stack developers, software engineers, machine learning engineers, cloud engineers, data analysts, data scientists, and many more. Any company that touches tech needs a coder in some form or fashion.

How long does it take to learn coding?

Getting to a place of having working code can take only a few weeks, while becoming fluent will take much longer. Becoming fluent in a language from scratch, enough to fill a portfolio of projects on your way to becoming a professional coder, can take at least 3-4 months of full-time structured learning and work.

The most popular coding languages are JavaScript, HTML/CSS, SQL, and Python. The Stack Overflow Survey of over 87,000 coders showed that these four languages remained at the top of the list between both professionals and those learning to code.

Is coding hard to learn?

Coding can be hard to learn as a new concept, but is accessible to everyone of all formal education levels. With all of the resources that exist, it’s not impossible if you break it into bite-sized, actionable steps and show up consistently to practice with a mentor and community.

Should I learn HTML or Python first?

Determining between learning HTML and Python depends on your intent for coding. HTML, when paired with CSS, is a fantastic frontend markup language that’s a pillar of the internet, while Python is a general purpose language with uses ranging beyond web development into scientific computing, AI, and gaming.

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