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Becoming A Self-Taught Developer

Posted By Wilton

February 19, 2019 | Industry Thoughts, UI/UX Development

Create.

Have Fun With it. 

We live in a time where people are realizing that a formal education isn’t always required to learn most of the skills they wish to possess. Whether acquired from textbooks, YouTube tutorials, or online articles, we can learn to do almost anything. At least that’s how I like to look at it, which is how I became the developer that I am today. 

A couple years ago, I landed a job as a Front End Developer for an award winning design studio. Prior to that, I didn’t have any work-related experience outside of freelancing nor had I finished my degree. How did I get the job? A portfolio and the experience I obtained through freelancing. 

Here’s my advice for anyone who’s looking at changing careers and doesn’t have the time or money for a formal education, or would like to make sure the career change is for them first.

Decide what career path you’d like to take in the development world. Web? Software? Video Games? Figure out what field you’d like to focus on. You may think you can start out learning it all (like I did), but that can be overwhelming. Scratch that. That IS overwhelming and you’ll drive yourself crazy. Figure out your focus, obtain all the knowledge and become an expert in that field, then expand (if you find that you still want to learn more in other development fields). 

Great! Now you know what you want to do. What next? Jump right into it. Let’s say you decided to embark on the journey to becoming a Web Designer and/or Developer. Your online resources will be your best friend. Udemy.com, Codecademy.com, and even YouTube tutorials created by fellow professionals will help you begin. Start out learning HTML, CSS, and JavaScript in that order. They are the basic languages that you will build on. Once proficient in those languages, you’ll be able to code a website from scratch and add in cool animations. Then, you can move on to other development languages such as PHP, jQuery, and a host of others. Of course, whichever mode of learning you choose to go with  go into much more detail on these steps and how they all work together.

If you decided on a career path in Software or Video Game Development, you’d want to follow the same steps, except with the specific programming languages for those fields. Like I mentioned, you can begin learning almost anything with your online resources. It’s all there, you just need to take the time to search for it.

So… what now? Build your portfolio. Create. Have fun with it. Develop your first functional website, program, or video game. Then do it again… but different. With repetition, you’ll gain more and more experience and expand on the knowledge that you’ve acquired. And along the way, continue to use your resources for assistance. 

Pursuing freelance projects is a great way to actively build your portfolio. Clients, future employers, and even your peers love to see your work. In most cases, it’s usually required to land a job, so make sure your best work is displayed there. 

Just like any other career path, the road isn’t always going to be easy. But as long as you continue studying, practicing, and keeping up with current trends, you’ll find that you’ll be more confident and comfortable tackling each and every project. 

Good luck and happy coding!

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