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How to Learn Coding in Chicago

By The Fullstack Academy Team

Woman coding in cafe brick wall

Are you a creative individual with a desire to build new things? Do you have strong problem-solving skills? Is your attention to detail impeccable? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, a career in coding may be the right path for you.

By learning to code, you can unleash your creativity and solve real-world challenges with logic and ingenuity. Skilled coders have the opportunity to work in a wide range of exciting roles, such as web developers and software engineers, and these roles are in high demand.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for software developers is expected to grow 26% by 2032, much faster than the national average of 3% for all occupations. If you’re looking to take advantage of the growing demand for software developers, the first step is learning how to code.

If you’re based in Chicago, there are many coding resources available to help you learn how to code, including self-learning, online courses, and coding bootcamps. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the benefits of learning to code and the best places to learn how to code in Chicago.

What Is Coding?

In short, coding is the language we use to speak to computers. It's the art of writing precise instructions, step-by-step, that guides these complex machines through intricate tasks. Every click, every animation, and every piece of information you see on your screen is a direct result of code.

Why Learn Coding?

Learning to code isn't just about mastering a technical skill; it unlocks a wide range of rewarding opportunities, both personally and professionally. Here are just a few of the many benefits of learning to code:

  • Career Boost: Code is the backbone of the digital world, and as technology continues to advance, the demand for coding skills will grow along with it. From website development and app creation to data analysis and artificial intelligence, coding expertise opens doors to a vast array of high-demand, high-paying careers.

  • Creative Opportunities: On the surface, coding may seem like it focuses solely on logic and equations, but it’s actually a haven for creativity. Coding empowers you to tap into your imagination to create your own apps, websites, games, and more.

  • Enhanced Problem-Solving: Learning how to code will help you hone your problem-solving skills and strengthen your analytical thinking. You’ll learn to break down complex challenges into smaller, logical steps, helping you tackle challenges both while coding and other aspects of your life.

Tips for Choosing the Right Coding Education

The right pathway to becoming a coder will depend on your personal learning style, goals, and level of commitment. To help you decide which type of coding education is right for you, here are a few things to consider:

  • Learning Style: Do you thrive with independent exploration or structured guidance? Identify your preferred learning style to find an approach that will help you succeed.

  • Time Commitment: How much time can you dedicate to learning how to code? Be realistic about your available time and schedule flexibility.

  • Budget: How much are you willing to spend on a coding education? Before making financial decisions, explore free resources and scholarships and compare bootcamp costs to potential returns.

  • Career Aspirations: Do you dream of joining a tech giant or starting your own venture? Is there a specific role you know you’d like to work in? Choose an education path that aligns with your career goals.

  • Skill Level: Are you a coding novice or looking to level up your current skill set? Choose an option that aligns with your current skill level.

How to Learn Coding in Chicago

There are many ways to learn how to code, and the city of Chicago offers an abundance of high-quality coding resources and programs. Here are a few of the most popular ways to learn how to code in Chicago:

1. Coding Bootcamps in Chicago

If you’re looking to break into the coding field quickly, a coding bootcamp in Chicago is your best bet. These short-term, immersive experiences provide you with the knowledge and skills to thrive in many entry-level coding careers in just a few short weeks or months. Coding bootcamps focus on hands-on learning experiences and real-world projects to ensure you’re job-ready when you graduate.

The benefits of attending a coding bootcamp include:

  • Accelerated Learning: Bootcamps cram years of learning into weeks and months, propelling you towards job-ready skills quickly.

  • Immersive Experience: The intensive environment puts your entire focus on learning to code and building a portfolio of real-world experience.

  • Industry-Ready Skills: Coding bootcamps prioritize practical skills and project-based learning, aligning your coding knowledge with industry needs.

  • Networking Opportunities: Throughout bootcamp, you’ll build valuable connections with peers, instructors, and industry professionals who can help support your career journey.

  • Career Focus: Many bootcamps offer career services, resume workshops, and mock interviews, preparing you for the job market from day one.

While coding bootcamps are a popular choice for many aspiring coders, they aren’t ideal for every type of learner. Here are a few reasons why a coding bootcamp in Chicago might not be the right fit for you:

  • Fast-Paced Environment: Coding bootcamps pack a ton of information in a few short months, meaning they move quickly. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast-paced environment if you’re not prepared.

  • Time Commitment: Bootcamps require your full attention, and many recommend that you don’t maintain full-time employment while enrolled. If you’re not able to manage your time effectively, a coding bootcamp in Chicago can be overwhelming.

  • Financial Obligation: Like many forms of education, tech bootcamps are a financial commitment. However, many tech bootcamps in Chicago offer multiple funding options to help minimize the financial burden.

While there are many coding bootcamps in Chicago, the University of Illinois Chicago Coding Bootcamp powered by Fullstack Academy combines a prestigious education with a proven foundational teaching method to help you gain job-ready skills in as few as 16 weeks.

The UIC Coding Bootcamp

Built on a JavaScript curriculum, the UIC Coding Bootcamp is designed to provide you with the skills, knowledge, and experience for many entry-level roles, including Back-End Engineer, Computer Programmer, Software Engineer and Web Developer. Led by industry-experienced instructors, the immersive, online bootcamp is offered in both full-time and part-time options to accommodate your busy schedule. Plus, you’ll benefit from working with a Fullstack Academy Career Success Coach who can help you optimize your resume, practice for interviews, and prepare for a successful job search.

2. Self-Learning

If you’re a complete beginner to the world of coding and are looking to get your feet wet, self-learning can be a great option. With videos, step-by-step guides, and other free resources, you’ll be able to build an understanding of key concepts and basic coding skills that will prepare you for further education.

The benefits of self-learning include:

  • Freedom: Self-learning lets you choose your pace and customize your journey to fit your unique learning style and career goals.

  • Cost-Effective: There are many free online coding resources, from interactive tutorials to open-source projects, empowering you to learn on a budget.

  • Tailored Focus: Self-learning lets you laser-focus on specific skills and technologies that align with your career goals.

  • Independence: Self-learning fosters a sense of ownership and accomplishment, making your coding journey even more rewarding.

While self-learning can be great for beginners, there are several disadvantages to consider, including:

  • Endless Options: It can be challenging to find high-quality resources when there are so many options available.

  • Missing Community: Self-learning can be isolating, and you might miss the immediate support of instructors or classmates.

  • Lack of Motivation: It's easy to get lost in the daily grind or discouraged by roadblocks. Without external accountability, staying motivated and maintaining momentum can be a constant struggle.

  • Potential Learning Gap: Some self-learners might miss the structured curriculum and clear learning path, leading to knowledge gaps or uneven skill sets.

Here are a few popular, free coding resources to help you get started:

  • UIC Tech Bootcamps Intro to Coding: This free online course will help you learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript fundamentals.

  • Free Code Camp: This non-profit offers a comprehensive curriculum of interactive lessons and projects, covering everything from web development to data science.

  • Khan Academy: Learn the fundamentals of programming with bite-sized video lessons and coding challenges. Start with introductory concepts like HTML and CSS, then progress to Python and JavaScript.

  • Mozilla Developer Network: Access in-depth documentation, tutorials, and reference guides on a wide range of coding languages and technologies. Get lost in the wealth of knowledge offered by the makers of Firefox.

It’s important to remember that while many successful developers start with self-learning, many seek more structured education to ensure they’re job-ready.

3. Online Coding Courses

For those who want a more structured education, online coding courses are a popular choice. With a wide range of options, there are online coding courses to fit every learning style, budget, and career goals.

The benefits of online coding courses include:

  • Flexibility: Online courses bend to your life, not the other way around. Learn at your own pace with no rigid schedules or commutes.

  • Variety: There is a staggering abundance of online courses that cater to a diverse range of learning styles and skill levels.

  • Affordability: Online coding courses can be a budget-friendly option, with several free or cost-effective alternatives available.

  • Convenience: Learn from the comfort of your couch, your coffee shop, or even under a palm tree on vacation. All you need is an internet connection and the drive to code.

Some downsides of coding courses include the following:

  • Self-Discipline: Online learning requires high levels of self-motivation and organization. Without the physical classroom setting and dedicated instructors, staying on track can be challenging.

  • Limited Interaction: You might miss the camaraderie and networking opportunities of in-person classes. While some platforms offer forums and online communities, it's not the same as face-to-face interaction.

  • Information Overload: The sheer volume of available courses can be overwhelming, and it can be difficult to know which coding courses provide a quality education.

  • Lack of Support: Some online courses, especially free ones, might offer limited support compared to bootcamps or university programs.

Here are a few popular online coding courses in Chicago:

  • UIC Tech Bootcamps Intro to Coding: Learn the fundamentals of key coding tools and technologies like JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Plus, this intro course will prepare you for further education.

  • Coursera: Coursera offers in-depth specializations and courses on various programming languages and tech domains.

  • edX: This non-profit platform boasts courses from prestigious institutions like MIT and Harvard, covering web development, data science, and artificial intelligence.

  • Udacity: Udacity's project-based learning approach lets you hone your skills by building real-world projects.

Explore the UIC Coding Bootcamp

Have you decided if a coding bootcamp is right for you? Explore how the immersive, online UIC Coding Bootcamp can help you gain the in-demand skills and hands-on experience to launch a rewarding career in the field. Start your coding journey today!