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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. 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.

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.

In 2015 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 & 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. 🇨🇦

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Learn coding fundamentals.

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 a introductory course. Luckily in Canada there are many organizations that exist and run events purely to encourage you to overcome that first hurdle!

Beginner coding opportunities:

Learn To Code Online

Learning online often consists of tutorials, lectures and hands-on practice. You can find free courses that will cover the basics of most coding languages and concepts. Leveraging the free courses that are available online will help you gain a better understanding of what coding actually means and what approach will suit your learning style. There’s no right or wrong place to start when it comes to free basic online courses, but we find HTML, CSS and JavaScript work well as you can create webpages with relative ease using just those three languages.


Coding Workshops

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.


Introductory Coding Courses

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.


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Advancing your coding skills.

So you’ve covered the basics and you’re comfortable creating simple projects, have dabbled in a few different 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

The deeper into 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.


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.


Coding Schools

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 Developer, it’s time to make an investment in your education. At Lighthouse Labs, we offer two full-time 10-week Bootcamps in Web or iOS Development with an over 96% employment rate for our job-seeking graduates.

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.


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Growing As A Developer.

Alright! 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.

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
  • Surround yourself with programmers far better than you
  • Automate your daily tasks
  • Try finding freelance gigs or working as a contractor
  • Continue to create your own projects
  • Compete on HackerRank


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.