There's no longer any doubt: coding is the most crucial skill of the 21st century. Developers are needed in every industry, and entirely new industries are being created from emerging technologies.

With this increase in demand has come an increase in learning alternatives, and we are proud to be part of that at Lighthouse Labs. Online 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.

But the question is, which learning method is best for you? Everyone has different needs, learning styles, and ambitions; there's no universal "best way" for learning to code. Obviously, we think our own program is great, but we recognize that it's not for everyone. And like we did with The HTML500, and our free HTML & CSS Essentials course we want to move forward digital literacy in Canada for all.

We've rigorously researched each to method of learning code (sources at the bottom), to create an easy way for you to compare your different options side by side. So with that in mind, we present:


The infographic you just read gives an overall idea of the learn-to-code landscape. Now, we'll get a little more into the details of each one:

Computer Science Degree

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With regards to coding, a computer science degree can be seen as the ultimate foundational prep course. The emphasis is theory, and students learn the underpinnings behind computer architecture itself. The languages they learn (Java, C#, etc) aren't used as frequently in the workplace, but students do gain a strong enough theoretical background to pick up new languages relatively easily. As our instructor Don Burks said in Mashable, a computer science degree is "great for people who want to build the next Windows or OS X", but "for someone who wants to build websites, apps, or startups, what they need is a practical understanding." When combined with one of the other options below, a computer science degree is a formidable asset for a coder.

Technical Diplomas

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Technical diplomas are the traditional way to learn about specific technologies. These diplomas are offered as trade skills by public institutions, and their graduates are often employed by large companies. The focus of these programs is usually on learning to maintain and operate within things that are created (i.e network infrastructure), as opposed to building new things.

Coding Bootcamps

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Coding bootcamps like Lighthouse Labs teach you everything you need to know to become a professional developer, and aim to do it as quick as possible. Unlike other programs, which are run outside of the tech industry, coding bootcamps are run from within the industry. This means students are immersed in work of a developer from day 1 of class instead of waiting until they find a job. The accelerated pace means it isn't for everyone, but for those willing to put in the hours, it's the fastest and most efficient way to learn to code.

Technical Certificates

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Many people who do not want to become a developer, but simply want to add the skill to their repertoire. Or maybe they know some code (for example, HTML/CSS) and want to supplement that with a technical certificate in another area (for example, iOS development). Others still aren't sure if a career in coding is right for them. Introductory technical courses, such as our own, can help them decide.

Paid Online Courses

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For those that are serious about learning to code but aren't able to commit to full-time or in-person learning, a paid online course is a strong option. Many of these courses offer online mentorship to help its students through their courses. For those who want to code, but aren't ready to quit their day job, this can be a great way to learn.

Free/Self-Directed Online Resources

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There are a ton of incredible online resources for learning to code. Most people that do any of the above options start with these, and we fully support that. We've even included our favourite ones in our prep course. However, for these courses to take you beyond "copy-paste" coding and have you code at a professional level is a rare feat. For most, this is the starting point, not the finish.

And that's it! We hope you enjoyed this comprehensive guide. Hopefully it helps give you clarity in yor journey on learning to code. If you think a coding bootcamp or technical certificate is the route for you, I suggest you apply to Lighthouse Labs now!