By November 30, 2017

How To Become a Self-Taught Programmer?

Most people wanna learn programming but most of all have lots of obstacles in the way. I don't have. I work full time. I don't have money to pay for college. I can't go to a coding bootcamp.

There are a lot of paths to learn programming, but not all of them are available for most people.

Of of the simple solutions you could use is becoming a self-taught programmer. By becoming self-taught, you can learn for free, at your own pace, and at home.

But… How do you become a self-taught programmer? Watch this video and find out!

Transcripts Of Video

John Sonmez: 

Hey, what's up? John Sonmez here from I'm going to talk about a topic today on how to become a self-taught developer. How to become a soft—how to become a self-taught developer or becoming a software developer, teaching yourself to code, however you want to phrase it. I don't have a specific question, but I get asked this a lot, and I'm going to make this video too because I'm getting a lot of pushback from some of you that I'm promoting coding boot camps. I've got a book, The Complete Software Developer's Career Guide and actually in that book, I give you the three paths. I say college, self-taught and boot camp and I gave you the pros and cons of each one, right? Am I little bit biased towards the boot camp? Yeah, but that doesn’t mean that self-taught isn’t a good way to go. It's just that the only reason why I recommend boot camp over self-taught is because it provides you a little bit of structure and it sort of cuts out the noise. I want to tell you if you do want to become a self-taught software developer, how you can do that because it's basically what I did and it's definitely possible, especially today.

Here's the thing. Let's start from the very beginning on how to do this. The very first thing that you want to do is you want to figure out what it is exactly that you want to accomplish because a lot—this is a mistake, right? I coach a lot of developers. By the way, if you want my coaching, you can check it out at It's expensive but I don’t need to. I don’t need a personal coach. I could just tell you this if this is what you're trying to do, okay?

A lot of developers that I'm coaching, one of the biggest mistakes that they make is that they're trying to learn so many different things and they're scattered in their approach. I talk about this a lot but this is really, really important. If you're going to be self-taught, the key thing is focus and discipline. This is why that it doesn’t work out for a lot of people, especially today because there's a lot of distractions, a lot of noises like the squirrel over there.

In order to do this, you got to start with a very, very clear goal in mind. There are so many different things you could learn, so many technologies. What I want you to do is I want you to just work backwards and I want you to go and pick a job description for the kind of job that you'd like. Maybe you do some research and kind of get some general idea of what kind of field, what kind of technologies you'd like to use. Once you've figured that out, then you go and you look for jobs and you look at the job descriptions and you see what they have in common. You see what technologies and languages like what would it take to get this job instead of—because if you're looking to become a software developer, that's a very amorphous term. What does it mean to become a software developer? When have you arrived? If you say, “I would like to get this kind of a job,” that's a better question. If you say, “I would like to get this specific job. What would it take for me to get this exact job?” Now, we've got—now, you can even call up to hiring manager, you can just say, “Hey, what would it take to get this job?” or you can call someone at the company or you can email them or ask them and say, “Hey. You know, I'm not applying for this job right now, I'm not ready, but I just want to know like if I were trying to get this job, what would I need to know exactly, like I read the job description. I have some questions about the job description. What do I need to know exactly? Like if I knew this, this and this, would that be like what you're looking for?” You see what I'm saying? You might even be able to get them on a Skype caller phone call and get them to give you some of the information. Now, you've got somewhere to go. Now, you've got a goal in mind.

Another way to do this would be to say like let's say that you want to be able to build an app. Well, if you think, okay, I want to be able to build an Android app and I want it to be able to do this stuff and you envision or you see an app out there that's already on the app store and say, “I want to be able to create that,” that's a goal. Now, you can work backwards from there. From there, now you work backwards and you have a skillset. You know exactly what you need to learn and now you can make a plan to learn that.

That's what's key. I know it's not free and it's not maybe what you want to hear. You want to explore these different technologies and learn all the stuff, but that's how you do it. That's how you become a self-taught software developer and that's where you start. That's not where you finish. I'll give you a couple resources. One of them, my favorite resources, Pluralsight. You can check it out here. I'm an author on the site. I did 55 courses for them and I taught a ton of topics. You can find a lot of courses. I mean for like 30 bucks a month, I think is what it costs now. You can get access like thousands of courses. Just sign up for that so that you can have the resources that you need.

Obviously, books. My book, The Complete Software Developer's Career Guide, talks about all this, getting started as a software developer, getting your first job, all of these things. If you want to become a self-taught software developer, you probably want to get that as well. There's ton of YouTube tutorials and free stuff out there. One resource a lot of people have been recommending is freeCodeCamp, in which it has a ton—it's basically self-taught. It's not really a code camp because you're self-teaching yourself. You're getting a little bit more guidance.

There's plenty of resources. I don't really need to recommend the resources. Instead, like I said, the key thing is just focusing on having that goal and then I'll tell you, once you do that and once you have the skills required and you start applying for those jobs and you finally get that job, it's not done. Now, you go when you fill in the rest of the stuff. Now is where I start to learn some of the computer science stuff and the algorithms then now is where I would start to like broaden my skill set a little bit. You want to have what they call as a T-shape knowledge where you have—it's like a T. You have really deep knowledge in one area, but you've got a broad base. First, get the deep knowledge in one area so that you can get the job. You're going to learn a lot from just having a job and actually working in the industry and then you broaden that base out and maybe you can pick more specialties that you're going to go into.

Becoming a self-taught software developer is not the easiest thing in the world and it's mostly because of the noise. We've got so much information out there. You've just got to be able to sort through the information, and the best way to do that is just to have an objective. If you have a target, you're going to be able to aim at that target and you're going to know. It's still going to be hard. You're still going to have to learn. You're still going to have to devote the time, but that's going to get you closer and closer to the goal because you're going to know which direction you're supposed to move.

Like I said, I could give you all kinds of pieces of advice on how to do this, but if you just do this one thing you'll figure it out. If you have an actual target and you actually have a goal and, like I said, you're trying to become a developer to get that job or to build that app, then you're going to know which way to go, or if you need some help along the way, if you want to invest in some coaching, I could coach you on the help along the way. That would be more valuable to me just telling you to pick a damn goal because that's—most people don’t focus and pick a goal, but try it first. If you're having trouble, if you want to become a self-taught developer, pick the goal and see if you can figure it out.

Most people will be able to figure it out on your own. It might take you a year. Some people, it takes six months to get a job, honestly, like I've got plenty of success stories on my channel where people have done that. I also know people that have spent four years studying and they're not quite ready yet because they keep on switching technologies and they don’t have a goal. They just think that someday they're going to be just feel like they're a software developer and they can start applying for jobs. That's not going to happen. Don't go down that road. That's the dead end.

All right. That's all I got for you today. Make sure you click that Subscribe button below and click the bell so you don’t miss any videos. I'll talk to you next time. Take care.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."