The Best Online Coding Courses for Self-Taught Programmers


So you want to learn to program? Great idea! Learning to code will help your career regardless of whether you want to become a software engineer or use your skills in another field. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to go back to school or spend 20 thousand dollars on a boot camp to learn to code. In this article, I list the best online coding courses that will help you become a self-taught programmer.

Why Take Programming Courses?

Let’s start with the basics. The best programming courses give learners valuable skills and knowledge in an accessible, understandable format.

No single course can teach everything you need to know as a programmer, but each one can build your knowledge and add new skills to your portfolio. Learning online means you can go at your own pace, which is essential if you have a lot of other commitments.

And yes, it’s possible to become a software engineer without a degree. The vast majority of companies hiring programmers do not require a computer science degree.

According to a 2017 study, only 25% of tech industry job ads even requested a computer science degree. In other areas, like data analysis, marketing, and design, employers asked for a computer science degree in less than 10% of job postings.

The Best Online Coding Courses for New Programmers

The first programming course you ever take could be the most important class of your life. Take an intimidating class, and you may give up on coding altogether.

I’ve experienced this first hand. When I was in college, I enrolled in an introduction to programming class. The teacher taught us Java, which I found impossible to learn, and I quit. I almost gave up programming for good, but years later, I found more beginner-friendly resources and ended up learning to code and getting a job as a software engineer at eBay.

With that said, here are a few beginner-friendly programming courses, so you can get started on the right foot as you begin your journey learning to code.

1. The Self-Taught Programmer

Get it here

The Self-Taught Programmer course

Of course, if you want to learn to code, you can’t go wrong with The Self-Taught Programmer! This course was made for self-taught programmers by a self-taught programmer (yours truly).

Based on my book, which Book Authority named as one of the best programming books of all-time, it goes above and beyond it with tons of bonus material.

Here is what you will learn:

1. Start to program in Python 3 and build your first program.
2. Learn Object-oriented programming and create a powerful Python program to get you hooked.
3. Learn to use tools like Git, Bash, and regular expressions. Then use your new coding skills to build a web scraper.
4. Study Computer Science fundamentals like data structures and algorithms.
5. Finish with best coding practices, tips for working with a team, and advice on landing a programming job.

2. Programming For Non-Programmers

Get it here

One Month logo

Next up is Programming For Non-Programmers by the folks at

The title of this class is what makes it perfect for new programmers. Regardless of whether a course is for people that want to become software engineers or those that simply want to learn to program to improve their career, they should all treat their material like they are teaching non-programmers.

What I mean is that when you are teaching new programmers, it is important not to assume they have prior knowledge, which can lead to frustration when they don’t.

This course does an excellent job of assuming students have no prior knowledge and taking things slow.

The Best Web Development Courses

Web development has always been one of the most popular fields for self-taught programmers. Boot camps, in particular, heavily focus on web development.

For example, Hack Reactor, one of the most famous boot camps, whose parent company just got acquired for 165 million dollars, teaches web development.

If you are interested in web development, here are some online coding courses to help you get started.

3. Free Code Camp

Get it here

Free Code Camp

Free Code Camp has become a force of nature. Their articles and videos are everywhere and for a good reason. They create excellent content.

While I’ve been a strong advocate for Python as the best programming language for beginners to start with, Quincy Larson (Free Code Camp’s creator) is an equally vocal advocate for starting with JavaScript.

In any case, both arguments have merit, and the decision comes down to what field you want to go into as a software engineer, and your personal preferences.

So if you know you want to go into web development, you can’t go wrong with Free Code Camp.

4. The Web Developer Bootcamp

Get it here

The Web Developer Bootcamp course

Next up is the Web Developer Bootcamp by Colt Steele. Before we get into his course, can we talk about his name for one second? Colt Steele has to be one of the top ten coolest names of all time. Honestly, I’m not sure it’s possible not to be successful with a name like that.

Anyways, Colt’s course is fantastic. He is a former boot camp instructor and is using this course to teach at scale. His course teaches web development and the programming language JavaScript,

Currently, over half a million people have enrolled in his class.

You may also enjoy his interview with CodeNewbie, which I listened to the other day.

5. Intro to HTML and CSS

Get it here

Udacity logo

This course was brought to my attention by one of the members of my Facebook group Self-Taught Programmers.

It is a free three-week course on HTML & CSS. This course is an excellent prerequisite to a more in-depth web development course, like the Web Developer Bootcamp.

HTML & CSS are markup languages, which means they are not programming languages, so this course will not teach you how to program. However, you can use them to build websites (with limited functionality), so if you are considering web development, but you aren’t sure if it is for you, this is an excellent opportunity to get a feel for what building a website is like.

6. JavaScript Essentials

Get it here

JavaScript Essentials course

Speaking of free resources, JavaScript Essentials is another class I found by sifting through recommendations in the Self-Taught Programmers Facebook group.

This one is short and sweet, but if you are looking for a quick introduction to JavaScript, it is worth checking out.

The Best App Development Courses

The next most popular field for self-taught programmers is app development.

App development, of course, means creating mobile applications for phones. If you are interested in app development, these courses will help you get started.

7. The Complete iOS App Development Bootcamp

Get it here


Angela Yu is another well-known programming instructor on Udemy.

Like Colt Steele, she based her course on her in-person app development boot camp in London.

Her course teaches Swift, which is one of the best programming languages to learn first. In addition to Swift, you will learn IOS 13, which is Apple’s mobile operating system, as well as the fundamentals of app development.

By the end of it, you will be building apps. You will even learn how to code augmented reality apps.

Currently, her course has over one hundred thousand students enrolled, and more than thirty thousand reviews. If you are interested in app development, you can’t go wrong with the Complete iOS App Development Bootcamp.

8. Become an iOS Developer

Get it here

Udacity logo

Another consensus choice from the Self-Taught Programmers Facebook community.

Become an IOS Developer is one of Udacity’s Nano Degree programs, and to be honest, I have no idea what that means.

This course doesn’t require any prior coding knowledge. At the end of the nano degree, you complete a capstone project and code an app that you come up with.

You can also consider taking Udacity’s free Swift for Beginners course as a prerequisite.

The Best Data Science Courses

In the past, web development was the most popular field for self-taught programmers.

In 2020, however, data science, not web development, is the biggest growth area in programming. This leads me to wonder if there is a massive opportunity for self-taught programmers to focus on data science?

If you are interested in taking that route, the following courses will help you get there.

9. Machine Learning

Get it here

Coursera logo

This excellent course is available for free on Coursera. Offered by Stanford University, it covers machine learning, the technology that powers self-driving cars, web searches, speech recognition, and much more.

Over two million students have enrolled in the course, which is a testament to just how popular data science is becoming. On top of that, it has over 30,000 reviews with an insane 4.9 stars out of 5 stars.

10. Deep Learning Specialization

Get it here

Coursera logo

Deep Learning Specialization is another Coursera course. You may be thinking, another Coursera data science course?

Well, the consensus in the Self-Taught Programmers Facebook group appears to be that Coursera has the best data science courses, as their name always comes up whenever anyone asks for data science course recommendations.

Deep Learning Specialization teaches you the foundations of Deep Learning, one of the most valuable skills in tech right now.

The Best Online Coding Courses for Computer Science

If you want to become a software engineer, it is crucial to study computer science. Not only will computer science knowledge make you a better programmer, but you will also find it challenging to get a job without spending time learning it.

Most programming jobs make candidates pass a test called a technical interview before hiring them, and most of these technical assessments focus on computer science. Specifically, they focus on data structures & algorithms.

These online coding courses that focus on computer science will make you a better programmer and help you prepare for when you are ready to interview for your first job as a software engineer.

11. Computer Science Theories 101

Get it here.

Computer Science 101 course

Computer Science 101 is a Udemy course by Kurt Anderson.

He starts off by analyzing algorithms, including Big-O notation, which is essential to master if you want to pass a technical interview. Later, he covers a variety of data structures, like stacks and trees, as well as sorting algorithms.

While not super comprehensive, it is a great place to start on your computer science journey.

12. Computer Science Algorithms

Get it here

Computer Science Algorithms is a free class from Khan Academy.

It starts with an introduction to algorithms and covers concepts like recursion, sorting, and searching. Each lesson also has challenges to help you further understand the material.

Be warned, however, that this is not the best place to start if you’ve never taken a computer science class before because it dives into complicated subjects rather quickly.

The Best Soft Skills Courses

What exactly are soft skills? They are the skills aside from programming that will help you have a successful career.

I am wrapping up this list with a suggestion that isn’t an online coding course but will still help you have the career of your dreams as a software engineer.

13. Learning How to Learn

Get it here

Coursera logo

As a software engineer, constant studying doesn’t stop when you get your first job. Programmers are continually learning, no matter how many years of experience they have.

Technology is always changing, which means you should always be learning. If there is one skill that ensures a successful career as a software engineer, it is knowing how to pick up new skills quickly.

That’s where Coursera’s Learning How to Learn class comes in. It teaches you how to learn more effectively, which will be invaluable in your career.

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my list of the best online coding courses for self-taught programmers.

Whether you are just starting or you are already well into your journey learning to code, these resources will help you improve your career.

Looking for even more programming classes? Check out Coding List: a website that helps you find the perfect programming course.

And remember, always be learning my friends!

Published by Cory Althoff

Cory Althoff is the author of The Self-Taught Programmer, which Book Authority named one of the best software books of all time.

Join the Conversation

  1. gravatar
  2. gravatar


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *