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Want to master the most popular coding language? This JavaScript guide will help you do it

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The technology sector undergoes significant changes at an exponential rate. Emerging technologies regularly disrupt various industries; whether it’s the latest car models, smartphones, artificial intelligence, or laptops, the cycle of innovation persists indefinitely. Meanwhile, the older versions of these technologies inevitably fall out of favor and become outdated.

But despite the emergence of modern programming languages—and although it was created in just ten days—Brendan Eich’s 1995-built vanilla JavaScript framework remains in style and demand. 

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Today, JavaScript is still the most commonly used coding language. HackerRank’s 2023 Developer Skills Report revealed that the demand to speak and use it is higher than the available expertise in the market.

Additionally, the demand for fluent developers is expected to grow by 25% in the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a programming language that helps developers make interactive and dynamic web pages.

“It does a lot of the work for you,” says Quincy Larson, the founder of freeCodeCamp. “Unlike coding in C or on an old mainframe, JavaScript is far removed from the metal and the hardware—the semiconductors and intricate computer components executing instructions.”

JavaScript’s power lies in its simplicity. With just a few lines of code, developers can accomplish a range of tasks, from creating dropdown menus on websites and running web servers—with the help of frameworks like Node.js—to writing mobile apps and building video games. 

According to Radix’s JavaScript Usage Statistics 2024 report, an astounding 98.8% of websites—approximately 50 million—utilize JavaScript as a client-side programming language.

Larson highlights the significance of Atwood’s Law in understanding JavaScript’s prominence. Jeff Atwood, the founder of Stack Overflow, a hub for all things development, famously stated, “Any program that can be written in JavaScript will eventually be written in JavaScript.” Larson interprets this to mean that if there is a definitive programming language, it will be JavaScript. “I predict it will be a standard part of the curriculum in schools within 20 years.”

So, is learning JavaScript worth it? A quick search on Indeed shows that a JavaScript developer in the U.S. can earn an average annual salary of around $109,000. So, if you’re considering a career in web development, JavaScript could be your golden ticket. But it’s not as simple as taking a single bootcamp. 

How to learn JavaScript

The first step in your journey is to master HTML and CSS. Consider HTML as the framework of a website, while CSS adds visual appeal. Together, they form the foundation of a basic website. Then JavaScript breathes life into it. 

JavaScript is instrumental in creating buttons, handling form submissions, and, overall, adding interactivity to a page.

1. Sign up for a free online JavaScript course, paid boot camp, or degree program

In the 1980s, learning to code was a tedious process. Larson points out that while today, most people can’t afford a personal tutor with a Master’s in Computer Science, online interactive projects offer a viable alternative. The tight feedback loop they provide makes them the gold standard for learning.

“Bill Gates would have likely borrowed books from the library and typed out the code verbatim,” Larson says, “Today, we have access to amazing tools that speed up the process.”

That’s one of the many things Edward Kim, the Vice President of Education at Code Ninjas, and Larson can agree on. Kim adds that having a “structured curriculum” is the best learning method. “Coding is a unique beast, and once you’ve learned the basics of JavaScript, there are trillions of ways to apply it. I’d also recommend finding free resources.” Here are a few ways to get structured learning.

5 free JavaScript courses

Consider these free, structured, self-guided course resources:

  • freeCodeCamp: Larson’s nonprofit organization offers 3,600 hours of online study, projects, and certifications.
  • The Odin Project: Their Full Stack JavaScript course covers conditions, loops, and more, enabling you to build a Tic Tac Toe game.
  • Harvard University’s CS50: Introduction to Computer Science: This 11-week course covers JavaScript, other languages, and fundamental concepts of algorithms, data structures, and web development.
  • Codecademy: A freemium coding site offers beginner-level courses that you can take at your own pace.
  • Learn JavaScript: Created by Google developers, this course provides hands-on practice and access to the first 77 lessons.

3 paid bootcamps and immersives

There are a lot of paid programs to choose from. Here are a few of the leading players:

3 degrees in computer science to learn JavaScript

Computer science degree holders can find work in just about every industry, holding positions such as programmer, web developer, clinical systems analyst, professor, software engineer, and applications analyst.

Larson views earning a degree as a “rite of passage” that can enhance your credibility with HR and hiring managers. “For 18-year-olds, I always recommend pursuing a degree, even if it means attending a community college for a couple of years to earn an associate’s degree,” he says. 

But, he also advises against drastic measures like dropping everything to pursue a four-year degree, especially for those with financial constraints or familial responsibilities. “If you’re considering a degree, don’t go into debt. It’s possible to secure a job without a degree,” he adds.

If you’re looking to check out more programs, Fortune ranked the best online master’s degrees in computer science to help in your decision process.

2. Surround yourself with fellow JavaScript learners, experts, books, podcasts, and challenges

After choosing a way to understand the fundamentals of learning JavaScript, the next step is to fully immerse yourself in learning. 

Consider signing up for JavaScript-related meetups and looking for other learning opportunities. Attending JavaScript meetups can significantly enhance your learning journey. If you have peers and people to talk to about code, you can get free feedback, ask questions, learn new skills, or even hear about new opportunities in the field.

Supplement your learning with books. You can also complement your learning with popular JavaScript books. Titles like Eloquent JavaScript by Marijn Haverbeke and JavaScript: The Definitive Guide by David Flanagan can provide valuable insights.

Listen to podcasts for downtime learning. Podcasts offer a convenient way to learn during downtime or when traveling. JavaScript Jabber and 20minJS Podcast cover various topics catering to all learning levels.

Challenge yourself with active problem-solving public challenges. Online challenges on platforms like CodeWars, HackerRank, and LeetCode offer a dynamic approach to mastering JavaScript. Games like “Capture the Flag” are designed to hone coding skills and bridge the gap between theory and practice, fostering a better understanding of the language.

3. Showcase personal JavaScript projects in a technical portfolio

One of the pros of learning the lingua franca of the web is that now you should be able to build your own website to host personal projects. Platforms like Dribble and Awwwards can spark inspiration for crafting a site that effectively markets your skills.

Alternatively, leverage established platforms like LinkedIn for professional networking and GitHub for peer code review. Many coders choose to use GitHub because of its vast, open-source community, which comprises more than 100 million users. By uploading your code there, you can potentially gain valuable feedback and increase your work’s visibility.

Try block-based coding if you are having trouble learning JavaScript

Block-based coding is a form of programming that employs a visual drag-and-drop interface instead of a traditional source code editor. By connecting various blocks, even early-stage developers can create basic programs without needing to learn a specific programming language.

MIT’s Scratch, a visual, block-based programming language, allows beginners and children to learn the basics of coding and, eventually, the fundamentals of JavaScript. You can use it to build games, create animations, and conjure up interactive stories.

“We teach our learners block-based coding first because it’s first teaching the logical and problem-solving skills on how code should work,” says Kim. “And that seems to facilitate it, at least for our young learners.

At Code Ninjas, the aim is to make coding as “fun as possible,” Kim says. The block-based, drag-and-drop method then turns into JavaScript, and then that snowballs into the video game design engine Unity—where his students learn either Python or Lua.

The takeaway 

The ever-evolving landscape of technology witnesses the rise and fall of innovations at an exponential pace. Despite the flux, Brendan Eich’s creation, JavaScript, is still a vital force in programming, continuing to shape industries at scale. 

With job opportunities burgeoning and salaries soaring, mastering JavaScript—through courses, degrees, challenges, and free resources—you’re not just learning a skill. You’re building the foundations for a lucrative career in the tech sector.

Finally, Larson advises that while learning the language is no small feat and could take thousands of hours, the best part is that ”you don’t need to spend a penny to learn it.”



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