We all know that coding is a skill-set in high demand. You may have read headlines on how coding is the next blue collar job and how people are upgrading their skills to stay ahead of the curve.
You get it, you’re convinced - you want to learn to code. Now what?
Over the past few years, there has been a steady stream of resources and alternative forms of education that have risen to fill the demand for tech skills.
The ‘learning to code’ landscape
Online programming courses and coding bootcamps have helped change the face of developer education - what was once only the domain of computer science majors and highly specialized tradespeople is now available to anyone with the will to learn.
However, with endless free online tutorials, video lectures, forums, in-person workshops and courses available to pursue coding, it’s not always simple to see your path to gaining the skills you want to acquire.
At Lighthouse Labs, we are often answering inquiries from the curious public who have heard about us and the importance of learning to code. We get emails from people of all backgrounds wondering where to start, asking anything from what resources are available to introduce their kids, to whether or not 65 is too old to learn software development (hint: definitely not 🙅).
Answering these inquiries is what inspired us to create this resource - not because we don’t love speaking with curious coding newbies, but because it’s surprisingly difficult to find a clearcut list of actionable steps you can take to reach your desired level of programming skills. Are you wanting to become a web developer? Are you looking for full-time or part-time coding classes?
Clear steps to reach your goals
The first, most important piece that we ask someone interested in learning more about coding is why. What is your end goal, and what is motivating you to succeed? Before you decide where to start, consider what you want to achieve with your education and what you are hoping to be able to create with the new programming skills you gain. Everyone has different learning styles, ambitions and available time. Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn the basics, an aspiring Developer ready to start a new career or a seasoned Programmer looking to expand your knowledge, we’ve compiled resources for you to grow your technical capacity.
Previously, we released Learning To Code In Canada: A Comprehensive Guide, which explored the different schools and programs available for those looking to learn to code. Our goal in this updated guide is to break down the different approaches and provide connections to resources and organizations to help you expand your coding knowledge. In an effort to show off the amazing talent and opportunities provided in our country, many of the resources below have been built by or contain material created by Canadians. 🇨🇦
If you want to learn how to code, there are three main stages:
- Learn coding fundamentals (beginner)
- Advancing your coding skills (intermediate)
- Growing as a developer (advanced)
Let’s get you started!
Knowing where to start is often the biggest hurdle when you begin learning to code. Depending on what you’re hoping to achieve and your individual learning style, you can start in-person at a workshop, try a little HTML & CSS online or dive head first into an introductory course. Luckily in Canada there are many organizations that exist and run events purely to encourage you to overcome that first hurdle!
There are three main options for beginners who are looking to start learning how to code.
All three are great options and offer a ton of knowledge. Let’s dive into each option below.
Beginner coding opportunities
The following is a list of online coding courses that we recommend to jumpstart your coding career:
Learn the basics of coding. This 5-hour introductory course will get you started with HTML and CSS. Build a solid foundation to stand on with this free introductory course.
Learn the fundamentals of building a mobile app. In this 5-hour free course you’ll learn how to build a music app for iOS.
This is the perfect introduction to Python for any coding beginner. Gain a fundamental understanding of Python and learn how to build a calculator, a word game, and a math game in this free 10-hour course.
Separate from Lighthouse Labs, freeCodeCamp offers courses on basic HTML HTML5, CSS, applied visual design, applied accessibility, responsive web design principles, CSS Flexbox, and CSS Grid. Students can also get certifications from this site that cover Java, Regular Expression, Bootstrap, jQuery, JSON, Python, Machine Learning, and more.
Bento’s mission is to help you become a self-taught developer. They offer over 200 coding tutorials on languages like HTML, CSS, Java, Python, Django, Ruby on Rails, Node, and more.
These are basic Ruby tutorials, ranging from beginner to advanced.
Udemy is an online learning platform that offers a wide range of courses - not just exclusive to coding. You will find a mix of paid and free courses on there but it will be quite self-directed in terms of developer and coding classes.
Similar to Udemy, Lynda offers thousands of self-directed online courses reaching farther than coding. Here you will find a mix of paid and free coding courses to choose from.
This paid learning service focuses on mobile development offering courses on iOS and Swift, Android and Kotlin & Dart and Flutter.
Learning in isolation can be tricky and programming in pairs has endless advantages. When you attend a workshop, you’ll have Developers who will act as your mentors and work with you through your coding challenges. There are plenty of community groups and organizations that offer free or low cost one-off workshops for you to try learning to code in-person. These workshops are often delivered by people with years of experience, so it’s a great chance to get exposed to the realities of the profession and learn some different styles of problem solving.
The options listed below are where you can find some of the best coding workshops in Canada that could help get your coding career started:
Get involved with the programming community through these interactive workshops. Running in major cities across Canada (Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Victoria, and Ottawa).
What started as Ladies Learning Code has grown to Canada Learning Code which also includes men, kids, and teens. They run in-person workshops across Canada.
Canada’s largest learn to code event. Free to all who register. A great event to help you dive into HTML with a ton of other new coders. Held in major cities across Canada including Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Saskatoon, Victoria, Halifax, London, and Ottawa.
Held specifically for kids between the ages of 8-15. These free code clubs help kids learn to code. They offer online and mobile coding workshops across Canada.
Check your local public library!
Libraries are a place of knowledge. Many of them will offer free coding classes or workshops to local library members.
If you’re serious about learning to code, you may want to invest in your education with a local institution that offers in-person coding courses. Dipping a toe in by taking a part-time course allows you to push through challenges and expedites your learning. You’ll also gain access to mentorship which can help you develop your personal goals and programming style. The curriculum for these programs is often tailored specifically to allow you to progress quickly and gain some programming independence.
Below is a list of options where you can find established and recognized courses that might be the right fit for you to begin your career in code:
Local Community Colleges
Community colleges in your area may offer coding courses where you can learn how to code, learn coding languages, and prepare you for a career as a front end developer.
Extended studies at local Universities
Universities often offer data science programs that do a deep dive into the world of coding and more. These four-year programs will often cover statistical analysis, data visualization, machine learning techniques, programming languages (like Python), and much more.
So you’ve covered the basics and you’re comfortable creating simple projects, have dabbled in a few different coding languages or frameworks and have a solid grasp on programming fundamentals. You could be using these skills in a hybrid role, for communicating with your developer team, acting as a project manager or simply coding for pleasure. The best advice we can offer you is to never stop coding. Create a project from start to finish, contribute to open source projects, and push yourself outside of your comfort zone.
Intermediate Coding Opportunities
Online Courses & Challenges
The deeper into web development you dive, the more difficult it can be to determine the right resources to continue your education. You’ll need to reflect on what you enjoy about coding and what aspects you’d like to explore. Whether you’re ready to start publishing your own products or just want to expand your knowledge, here are a few resources to help you push forward.
Grow your skills by completing fun, realistic projects while receiving advice and helpful feedback. Here you will find hours of free online coding coursework that is laid out in an organized fashion to help you grow your skills.
Practice makes perfect! #100daysofcode by GitHub challenges web developers (and aspiring web developers) to code for at least an hour every day for 100 days.
Formerly known as Coders Without Borders, CodeDoesGood is a four-chapter coding course created by four Vancouver-based developers who aim to propel the tech community towards building solutions to real world problems.
Another GitHub challenge, this 21 step coding course includes learning programming languages like HTML, CSS, Node, Java, and Python, as well as resume and interview prep for full-stack developers, and much more.
Learn to build apps for iOS in these video tutorials shared by Stanford University on YouTube.
Go beyond the Python basics and start automating more things with this useful programming language. Follow the 21-chapter online coding classes and boost your programming knowledge.
On top of coding challenges, CodeByte offers interview prep for any aspiring web developer. Their website has both free and paid options.
Workshops & Meetups
Maybe you’ve hit a wall, or maybe you just want to meet other coders on your level. Attending workshops that cover more than just the basics or getting out to meetups to mingle with Developers of all levels can help you overcome roadblocks and discover the best next steps for you to accomplish your programming goals.
Look for the Intermediate workshops and meetups on this event page. those will help to propel your web development career further.
If you’re in Toronto or Vancouver and want to meetup with some like-minded developers to learn, code, and teach, this is a great option.
Offering coding tutorials, workshops, and meetup events around the world.
A global initiative, Women Who Code hosts meetup events in a number of countries in many different speaking languages.
Originally named the Vancouver Founders Meetup, this meetup is an open forum that hosts events to connect those in the start-up community and highlight the people and companies building great products.
A global conference that focuses on all things WordPress. Since Wordpress is the world's most popular CMS software, it’s a smart move to stay up-to-date on this platform and the possibilities available to programmers when using this system.
At this point in your pursuit of programming, you’re facing a crossroad. Are you interested in pursuing coding full-time, or are you happy trucking along as a coding hobbyist? If you’re looking to accelerate your learning in the hopes of working as a web developer, it’s time to make an investment in your education.
Depending on your learning style, depth of the material you want to cover and amount of time you want to spend in school vs. in the workforce, there are a few options for furthering your Developer career.
For more details on the difference between the coding schools that exist in Canada, visit our guide on Learning To Code In Canada for a breakdown on each of the following recommendations.
You can also choose from the following coding classes or coding bootcamp options below:
Learn more about coding bootcamps and the options available. Bootcamps are intensive, accelerated learning programs that teach skills like Full-Stack Web Development, Data Science, Digital Marketing, and UX/UI Design.
There are a number of Colleges and Institutes across Canada that offer beginner to advanced programming courses. Search for an institute that you’re interested in and check out their programming options.
Many technical schools offer accredited and advanced coding courses. They may even offer this type of learning online.
Pursuing a Computer Science degree through a university is a thorough and well-recognized way to start a career as a Web Developer. This would open other careers doors as well such as Data Scientist, Systems Analyst, Software Engineer, and more.
All right! You did it - nice. You’ve made it through Bootcamp or maybe you’ve been working in the industry and are ready to take on a new challenge. Growing as a Developer is essential for your survival.
There are more daily advances in this industry than an octocat can juggle, so you’ll need to be constantly honing your skills.
We’ve sourced some suggestions from our alumni and mentor community to help you continue to expand your programming experience.
The top two tips for growing as a Developer:
- Always be coding
- Connect with the Developer community
1. Always. Be. Coding.
This is it - just keep coding. Whether you’re working as a Developer, dreaming up your own side projects or contributing to others, your skills progression depends on how much you practice.
Find full-time employment
The best way to ensure you are frequently coding is by working full-time in a position that requires you to code. Simple as that!
Surround yourself with programmers far better than you
Like many things, if you wish to progress in an area it is best to surround yourself with people who can teach you new skills and who you can learn from. coworkers, meetup groups, online forums, etc. are all places where you can go to find these inspiring programmers.
Automate your daily tasks
Work smarter not harder! Try automating as much as possible as this will continue to push your intellectual boundaries as a programmer.
Try finding freelance gigs or working as a contractor
Expand your portfolio and you're coding knowledge by pursuing freelancing or contractor jobs. This is a diverse way to gain programming experience and see many different coding approaches out there in the world. It may even open up new and exciting opportunities for you or introduce you to a number of new, influential people in the coding community.
Continue to create your own projects
Side projects are a great way to keep your coding skills sharp. Whether it's for your own side project or if you are helping someone out by lending your services and writing code for free, it can help your career as a programmer as a whole.
Compete on HackerRank
This global platform hosts 11 million Developers and serves as a hub for coding practice and interview prep. It can even help Developers find work.
2. Connect with the Developer Community
You may be working on side projects or contributing to OSS, but if you want more - it’s time to turn to the developer community. Tapping into the network of programmers around you can be invaluable when looking for your next move. Connect with others in your area and you’re likely to find inspiration for whichever path you want your career to follow.
- Mentor at your favourite local coding school
- Attend advanced workshops
- Frequent meetups
- Participate in or organize a Hackathons
- Attend conferences
Start learning how to code
Learning to code starts with registering for a coding class. Whether that’s a free course, a community workshop, or a paid bootcamp or post-secondary education.
There is no right or wrong way to learn to code. Just many options to choose from. This may feel overwhelming, and you may be wondering which option is right for you. The answer boils down to your goals, and available time and money. Choose what best aligns with these three factors.
While each option presents its own unique set of benefits, all will provide you with at least a basic, baseline understanding of coding. Whether it’s online courses, workshops, or accredited post-secondary classes, we guarantee you will have the opportunity to have a bright future in programming.
If you have questions about the different learning options, feel free to reach out to us at Lighthouse Labs. We’d be happy to talk you through the process and set you up to meet your goals.
Lighthouse Labs makes learning how to code easy. Even if you are starting at the very beginning, our online learning platform provides guidance and all the necessary course material. Whether it’s full-time or part-time learning, all you need is an internet connection and an interest in programming! Check out our wide range of accredited programming courses and coding bootcamps today.