By John Sonmez June 21, 2018

Top 5 Online Coding Certifications (2018 UPDATED)

Whether you're choosing a language-specific or platform-oriented credential, it's worth looking at my top five online coding certifications for software developers.

I've talked several times before about attending to coding boot camps, doing nanodegrees but I've never actually talked about the best online programming certifications that are out there.

Nowadays, the entire programming workforce is changing so much and there are A LOT more options for those who want to become developers that, if you really want that, you should consider all possibilities.

Developer and programming skills are in high demand, and this isn't changing anytime soon. This is why achieving a developer certification can help you keep an edge in the market by making you stand out among your peers. And the programs are getting stronger each day, especially with those online certifications.

So… What are the top 5 online programming certifications?

Transcript Of The Video

John Sonmez: Hey, what is up? John Sonmez here from SimpleProgrammer.com, and I am going to be talking about today the top five, that's right, top five online programming certifications. So, this is a tough one. I was trying to research this and try to figure this out, because a lot of you've been asking me, “What are the best places to get online certifications? Does it make sense?” I've done some videos on whether or not you should get certifications, and whether certifications are valuable, but the kind of certifications I'm going to be talking about here are more … It's different. It's changed a little bit, as education has been democratized, as we're seeing more online education, we're seeing the traditional universities and college structures sort of crumble. I predict in the next 10 years, they'll completely crumble.

And so, getting these online certifications has become more important, because these are more like little degree programs. In fact, as I talk about some days, you'll see that they are actually smaller degree programs. So this can be really important, this can be good for a couple of reasons. One, getting an online certification or degree is going to give you the knowledge that you need to actually succeed as a software developer. There's a lot of information, a lot of good knowledge out there to become a software developer. It's not really hard today, right? It used to be difficult, but now, there's so many resources, so much information out there on how to become a programmer and learn programming, that the biggest question is what to do, right? It can be overwhelming, but having some kind of a structured program can help you.

Again, this is one of the things … I believe strongly in being a self-taught programmer. In fact, I talked a lot about bootcamps; I think I've done some videos on bootcamps, you can check that. And that's sort of where I'm recommending now, is because it has that structure. Because the thing is, what I used to say before we had the bootcamps, before we had all these online programs, was that you basically … You could be self-taught — you don't need to spend all this money, you just figure out what you need to learn and you learn it — or you could go to college, and college is more for the person that needed the structure, that they couldn't set their own structure.

But now that we've got these online certifications that are sort of mini degrees, and we have these online bootcamps and things like that, and bootcamps, it sort of combines the best of both worlds, because it's very on the ground, focused, it still requires you to really do the bulk of the work of teaching, of teaching yourself, essentially, but it gives you a structure, so that you can know that you're learning the right things, and you've got a progression, which … A lot of people struggle with that. I mean, again, one of the reasons why I talk about why it's so hard to be successful as an entrepreneur, especially, is because you don't have a structure, you have to lay out your own structure. I mean, that's one of the things I struggle with every day as an entrepreneur, is I've got to decide what I've got to do. I can't be looking over there and be like, “Oh, squirrel,” you know? So this is important.

So let's get into it. What are the top five best online programming certifications, at least in my opinion, what I've found here? And by the way, if you disagree with me, if you've got more info, leave it below, leave a comment, let's get … Let's make this useful for people, right? This is what my point is for doing this video.

The first one I have here is Udacity. I used to call this “Udicity.” Udacity, you can check them out here, okay? Udacity. So, they offer nanodegree programs, they came up with this idea, and so what is it? What is Udacity, what is a nanodegree program? Essentially, it's a smaller sort of segmented piece of degree. You can think of it as technical training certification, but they've kind of given you the stamp on it that says that, okay, this is official, you've gone through these requirements. And what they've done is they've broken this up into smaller pieces, so I'm going to look up here … So, for example, they have a lot of different little microdegree programs. They have this Deep Learning Foundation, so they started creating these foundations ones where you can build off of that. Artificial Intelligence, VR Developer — that one sounded cool, I wanted to do that myself — Android Basics, Predictive Analytics for Business, Self-Driving Car Engineer. So there's a lot of really kind of cool stuff here.

Now, these programs, what it is is they're very specific, they're more focused, as you can see here. And what they have is they have some sponsors from different companies, so Google has an Android Basics; Front End Web Developer's sponsored by AT&T, Google, and GitHub, and whatnot. Now, these are not free. They do have some free courses, I do believe, but most of their courses cost some money. So let's say you wanted to become an iOS developer, right? They've got an iOS Developer course. They have a timeline for six months. Okay, now this is kind of a bigger one, and you can start the nanodegree; they have this Nanodegree Plus, which includes a job guarantee or 100% refund. Now, that's a pretty damn good guarantee, right?

So, if we wanted to just say … Okay, let's just say Start a Nanodegree. What would we be looking at here? If it comes up, we'll see. Okay, it doesn't have the … I'm not seeing the price either. But I believe these were around 500, 600 bucks for some of these programs. It depends on what the program is and how long it is. I mean, that one's obviously a pretty long program. There's just a ton of stuff here, and their website is very well designed for you to navigate. If you click the Explore button when you go to their website, you can sort of see … “What do you want to do?” “Oh, I want to build websites.” “Okay, and then what's your level of experience?” “I'm a beginner.” Okay, so then it's got this course here, and it tells you what the base salary is. It uses Paysa to figure that out for programmers, and for whatever it is. I'm not so sure how great that is, but … But they've got a bunch of free courses there to kind of get you started.

Basically, what they want to do is they want to get you started on their free courses, and then you go into the paid ones, but again, when they have that guarantee, 100% guarantee on a job, that's … To me, that seems like a no-brainer. It seems pretty valuable. Now, I've heard a lot of good stuff about their courses. These are good, comprehensive courses. If you look at these courses, if you look at the syllabuses, and you look at what they're teaching, this is good stuff, okay? And a lot of times, like I said, they're getting their content from companies like Google, from Microsoft, or … I don't know if they have Microsoft in there, but like AT&T, GitHub, and stuff. It's sort of this mutual thing, where that company's getting some branding, and they're getting to use the branding from that company.

If I was going to learn VR, I'd probably go here and click the VR Developer and sign up for this, and it says it has a six-month timeline, so it's a serious commitment, it's not like this tiny small thing, but it's going to get you that specialized knowledge, and it has a capstone project at the end. So you're really signing up for a program that's totally online, but I like it. I think it's good, it makes a lot of sense to me, and they're constantly expanding. I'm excited to see what Udacity does, and it's amazing that they have so many different specialties in there that you can select.

The next one is Coursera. Now, Coursera's a little bit different, because Coursera is more … And we'll put the link here. Coursera is more designed for university programs that already exist, and putting them online, so you'll find a lot of more higher-level, kind of professional, higher degree program classes on there that have actually been brought online. Some of them are free, some of them are paid. There's a lot more, I think a lot more free courses on Coursera, but there are some paid ones as well. But it's probably worth paying for these things; these are longer, these are more interactive type of classroom type of online settings on most of these, where you're going to enroll, and then you're going to be working with other people in more of a classroom setting, but still online.

The programs that you get, again, these are more like technical certification type of degrees, just like the Udacity ones, and … Let me see here, bring up what they have here. So, Coursera, so they've got a bunch of different courses here, and you can see, it's a lot … It's combinations of videos, of reading, of lectures, so this feels more like the traditional college environment, but online. And like I said, more of these are going to be courses that are created by college professors, so if you prefer more of the college experience, that might be something to consider. And it's broken down, these are fairly long programs, but at the end … Now, the way Coursera used to work is that they would give you … The course would be totally free. Now, some of them still are, I think most of them are, and then to get the certified degree, like the certification, then you would pay some amount that the … The verified certificate, I think it was like $49. It might be a little bit more expensive now, might depend on what course you take.

These courses have the clout of … For example, the Learn Python one is from the University of Michigan, so you've got that higher education program backup behind it. So, I don't know, between Udacity and Coursera, is an employer going to say … You kind of have to ask the question, is an employer going to say, “Well, you took a course that was created by Google. Is that more valuable, or is it more valuable to have a course that was created by MIT or University of Michigan?” I don't know. It sort of depends on … But I think these are valuable. Again, really good material here. I wouldn't recommend these if I didn't think it was good stuff, and I've looked through a lot of these courses, and they are really, really good.

Next we have Bloc.io. This one is a little bit different. This one is more of … You pay a tuition. This is more of a bootcamp. I think the tuition right now, at least recording this video, is $19,500; they've got some financing and stuff. And they've got these different programs, so they've got a 108-week pace, a 54-week pace, and a 36-week pace, and it's how many hours a week, so you could do 15 hours a week, 20 hours a week, or 40 hours a week. If you do 40 hours a week, in 36 weeks, you can basically go through this whole program, and you can essentially become a software developer.

And this is not bullshit, this is good stuff. I looked at their program, and this is … Again, so if we were to look at Udacity and Coursera, those are more like, “Okay, I kind of know what I want to learn, I want to focus on this specific thing,” whereas this, they have career tracks, so they have, like, a software developer career track, and it's taking you through all the stuff that you need to know in order to become a software developer. So this is more structured in terms of an overall educational experience; this is going to be more like getting a degree, whereas the Coursera and the Udacity are going to be more like specializing in a specific thing.

So you're going to kind of want to think about what do you want to do, right? Do you want the full packaged knowledge and go through one of these programs, or do you want to focus? Like, do you know you want to be a VR developer? If you want to be a VR developer and you know it, you probably want to go through, find the courses on Coursera or Udacity, and get those certifications, as opposed to just a software developer career track on something like this Bloc.io. So, really good stuff. I've heard a lot of good things from people that have graduated from Bloc.io, so I would recommend it. And again, I've looked through their curriculum and their programs, I've looked through it on all of these, and this is good stuff. It really is quality.

One of the things that I always recommend, too, is this is one of those things where you don't want to … You don't want to skimp, okay? So, Bloc.io, I know some of you think, “Oh, $19,500, that's a lot of money.” That ain't shit, okay? If you get a job as a software developer making six figures, that's not shit compared to that, right? Now, I don't want you to go into debt and all this stuff, I've talked about this a lot, but at the same time, this is a serious, good investment that makes a lot of sense, that you can do, as long as you're going to do the program. So it's really, really going to be cost-effective for you to do something like this. I recommend it, it makes a lot of sense to me. If I were starting out today, I'd be doing something like this. Honestly, I'd probably be doing something like the Bloc.io, and then probably taking some courses on Coursera or Udacity for the things I wanted to specialize and know better, but I'd want to take something like Bloc.io to get my full … You know, make sure that I've covered all my bases here.

Okay, the last one I'm going to … Or no, actually, there's two more. So, next I'm going to talk about … I'm going to just use an example, but I'm going to use UC Berkeley Extension, and this is just an example for traditional school programs. A lot of colleges are now bringing stuff online, and they're bringing these sort of mini degrees online. The UC Berkeley one, for example, they have a certificate program, and the estimated cost of getting one of these certificates is like $3,600, in this case. This is a real certificate from UC Berkeley, and this is a certificate in Software Development and Programming.

So this makes a lot of sense if you kind of want that … You know, it's not going to be … It's not an associate degree, it's not a bachelor, right? They don't want to bite into their own market. Eventually they'll have to, because this is the way that things are going to go. I guarantee you, education is going this direction. There's no way you're going to sustain that old model. It just doesn't make sense, it's kind of dumb here. But if you want to get something from UC Berkeley or one of these colleges, you can check most colleges now and see, do they have an online program? It's going to be a lot cheaper, and they're going to have some kind of a certificate program.

Now, the value of the certificate program is probably going to be better, honestly, than the traditional degree, because it's going to be focused on programming, right? You're not going to have all these extra things. It's really important to specialize, especially today, and to have the up-to-date knowledge. So these are kind of good, especially when you consider the cost. I mean, this is pretty damn cheap, $3,600 to get the certificate in Software Development and Programming. And again, I looked at their curriculum; it's good stuff. It's actually up-to-date stuff, imagine that for a college.

So, colleges are having to kick it into gear. They're having to come online, they're having to figure this out, and they're starting to put out these programs. You've got to look for them. They're not going to advertise those as much; when you go into the school, they're not going to say, “Oh, you could learn online for a quarter of the price.” No, they're not going to tell you that, but you've got to look and see. And again, you're not getting an associate's degree, you're not getting a bachelor's degree in this case, but you're getting the same education, maybe better for a software developer, in a more compressed format online. So definitely check those out. I just used UC Berkeley as an example, because I found that one, but there's a lot of them out there.

Now, the last one, the fifth one I'm going to put here, is a company called Thinkful. Now, I know there's a lot of other ones, but these were the five that I sort of narrowed it down, because they have different styles of how they do this. Now, Thinkful is really interesting. Thinkful is, again, another online coding bootcamp, and the way that Thinkful works is that they've got a flexible … Sort of like $9,000 for six months, or full-time, which is $14,000 for four months, and it's a program that you're going to graduate in either six or four months, and you're going to study 20 or 40 hours a week.

But what's really cool about this, this is why I like Thinkful, is because you have a mentor. In fact, I know one of the mentors on Thinkful. He's a really awesome mentor. I'll actually mention him, it's Jason Humphrey, and he does an awesome job. He's got his own students, and I've heard from him specifically on how this works. What's cool about this program, again, is this idea that you're going through this entire program, they have this … It's a bootcamp, web development bootcamp, for example, but you've got a mentor. And so, like on the flexible schedule, they've got three mentor sessions per week, and for the full-time, a daily meet with your mentor, which is pretty damn cool. If you think about this, if you get stuck, if you need help, this makes a lot of sense.

Now, for me, I tend to be someone that I can figure out stuff on my own, and I'll go research, and a mentor is not really … I've never really had mentors learning stuff and growing up. But a lot of people really thrive well in that space, and if you're one of those people that's like, “Man, if I have a question, could I ask someone?” having a mentor can be extremely valuable, so that could be worth the money alone. Again, some of these prices might seem high to you, but for me, if I can get through a bootcamp, $14,000, four months, and I have a mentor that's going to meet with me daily to help me learn whatever I need to learn, that's pretty damn awesome. I mean, that's … To me, that's well worth it, because you're much more likely to get a job.

In a lot of these programs, too, they have some kind of guarantees and stuff on the jobs, or refund. I didn't give all the details on that; you can check them out on the sites. But it's becoming more and more, I mean, these programs are becoming good, right? And I've given you five of ones that I recommend, that I have checked out the curriculum, that I've looked at it, that I've gotten … I get a lot of emails from people that say, “I did this bootcamp,” or “I did this Udacity program,” or “I did this Coursera,” or “I did Bloc.io,” and so that's my filter.

There's a lot of bad stuff out there as well, so that's one of the things … I think I was going to go on this tangent, but I didn't, but I'll wrap this up and I'll say this one last thing, which is make sure you don't cheap out on this shit, okay? This is not something to cheap out on. Don't bargain-hunt a bootcamp, okay? If a bootcamp that is really good is $19,500, like the Bloc.io, and you could find one for $8,000 that's a bargain, it's less than half the price, pay the extra money and get the one that's good, but this is your education, this is … I mean, this is the difference between getting a job and not getting a job, right? You don't want to waste $8,000 trying to save. There's certain things where you can save money on and it makes sense, but I would pick a bootcamp based on what is the most quality thing, and what are the graduation rates, the acceptance rates, how many of the graduates get jobs, essentially, afterwards. That's the things that I would look at, that kind of criteria.

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There's a reason why I created this shirt. If you're learning to become a programmer, one of the things that you're going to have to learn to do is to stop focusing on results and start trusting the process. This is the key, I call it the secret of life, is because it's … You just have to know that if you keep on going, if you keep on doing it, you're going to get there, but you've got to trust the process. Too many people focus on results so much, and they give up too far along the way, so I have to remind myself, and I like to remind other people, trust the process. A really, really key point in my life.

All right, again, if you liked this video, if you want to get more videos like this one, definitely click that subscribe button below. I do a ton of videos on this channel on all kinds of things, not just technical, mostly on soft skills, to be honest, on personal development and improving yourself as a person, and that's key, key to success no matter what you're trying to do in life. All right, it was great talking to you. 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."