Why go for self-taught programming?

why go for self-taught programming

Between 2016 and 2018, the Google Play Store observed an average of 6,140 App releases every day. While in 2018, India saw 1,200 new tech startups, 8 of which were able to join the $1 million evaluation.

Software, in the form of Mobile Apps, Small Business Productivity and Enterprise Solutions, is driving the economy forward. The results can be seen in everything from the rapid digitization of payments, to the upsurge of the gig-economy that was insignificant 10 years ago.

Who is driving all this change? Software Companies. But well, the Software Developers working with them.

Software Development offers pay-scales well beyond national averages with decent growth opportunity and a multitude of options to choose from while making a career.


Why do programmers self-teach themselves?

Degrees Don’t Matter So Much

Contrary to popular belief, learning software development has more to do with efforts-at-the-personal-level, than going to a college.

In fact, a survey of 50,000 developers from 178 countries by Stack Overflow, highlighted that

  • 69% of developers were partially or fully self-taught
  • only 43% had a BA or BS degree
  • nearly 3,500 participants were fully self-taught

Going by these stats, it is pretty evident that the trade doesn’t necessarily depend upon clearing a college degree. But at the same time, it requires enough dedication to reach a substantial level. Today, people from all walks of life are becoming programmers.

Interestingly, Tikhon Jelvis, Lead Data Scientist at Target wrote in his Quora answer

“The single worst programmer I ever worked with had a PhD in CS—a hard worker who put out such bad code with such consistency it was almost impressive.

On the flipside, one of the best programmers I ever worked with had a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, of all things.”

It’s About Practice

I’d say all programmers are self-taught because, without personal efforts, you’d get nowhere even if you were being taught by the best teacher in the world. If you’re a computer science student, the condition still stands for you – you will have to put in the work if you want to be a good programmer.

Everything is On the Web

Secondly, gone are the days when learning to code was an issue due to a lack of resources. Quality resources, MOOCs, tutorials and videos are available online, and mostly for free.

Hence, in case you’re someone from a non-CS background, this is super-beneficial for you. You’ve already spent on your previous degree, why spend more? You can scout the internet for precious resources or look at the following.  

CodeCademy – Learn the most popular web scripting technologies such as PHP, Phyton, SQL, Ruby and more.

Free Code Camp – Get certified by learning and building projects for non-profits. Covers trending web technologies like Node.js, React.js, and Databases.

Coursera – Coursera is a MOOC platform serving free Computer Science courses for everyone. You can choose to pay to get a certificate but learning is mostly free.

Github – Github is originally a code hosting platform but it offers tons of knowledge and code issues resolutions for the open source community.

MIT Open Courseware – You can learn the code Computer Science concepts from MIT’s own study material on C, JAVA, Python and more. Recommended for programmers with some coding background.

Learn What You Like

Now, considering that you’re going to learn on your own, you can decide what to learn. You don’t have to opt for a low-level language like C (it’s something that colleges make you do). You can instead start with a high-level language like Python, which is comparatively closer to English, and hence, much easier for beginners.

This is also where I’ll address the common misconception that one has to begin to learn to code with C. No you do not. All you have to do is learn to code, you can do that in a language of your choice. Once you’ve mastered one, you can work on a few others to make your skill-set versatile.

Is the Effort Worth It?

It’s finally time to address the elephant in the room – is being a self-taught programmer worth it?

Yes, it is.

  1. If you enjoy solving problems and good at finding information and are not too averse to learning how to program, this could result in being a life-changer for you. Most people who are fond of solving problems and applying logic, fall in love with code and programming. This can potentially lead you to feel more fulfilled and happy with your life.
  2. If you are good at what you do, you will find employment – be it a part-time job, be it a full-time job, be it a freelance project. Hence, your hard-earned skill will help you earn, and will let you earn well. Your subject of interest (and fun) will help you earn, what else can you possibly ask for?
  3. Many world-renowned people are self-taught programmers. I’ll unveil the list for you:
  • Elon Musk: The man wrestling with the world’s problems taught himself how to code when he was merely twelve years old. A few days after his parents bought him his computer, he built a video game called Blastar.

self taught programmer

  • Mark Zuckerberg: The man behind the world’s biggest social media platform, Facebook, had taught himself coding during his middle-school. He was proficient with his programming skills, having built an artificially intelligent music player during his high-school years. (P.S. Microsoft tried to buy it but he declined. You can read more, here.) He was a computer science student before he dropped out, and had built Facebook in his college dormitory.

self taught programmer

  • Bill Gates: Do I even need to elaborate? This man learned to code during his lunch hours at middle-school. He had written his first program at the age of thirteen, which was, by the way, for playing tic-tac-toe.

self taught programmer

  • Margaret Hamilton: The amazing woman who wrote the software that lead to Apollo’s successful moon-landing. She graduated in mathematics and taught herself code. She led to the rise of the era of software development.

self taught programmer

  • Steve Wozniak: The co-founder of Apple. He taught himself Fortran programming when he was in high-school, and went on to single-handedly build the Apple I (Apple’s first computer).

self taught programmer

Basically, the question is not whether if self-taught programming is worth it, the more important question is whether you’re up for it.

Do you think you’ll be able to enjoy the learning process and will you be able to commit to it? To provide a straight answer to that, I’d say, we’re all capable of doing it. It’s a matter of desire and attitude – I can vs I don’t want to.

For the ones who do want it, programming holds the potential to completely transform their lives.

I hope I’ve provided you with adequate information. If you still have queries, drop them in the comments below! I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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Editor-in-Chief; Electronics Engineer; Science enthusiast since the age of 7 and tech enthusiast since the age of 17. My new venture, Ionizer, allows me to challenge myself, learn and grow, as I write about new researches, new innovations, new gadgets; and voice my opinions, both popular and unpopular, about the same. Apart from Science and Tech, I enjoy reading thrillers; and food, with a lot of heat.