Should You Learn to Code With Codecademy? A Codecademy Review

By: Cameron Chapman

Category: Blog, Review

​​I taught myself the basics of coding from a bunch of online tutorials and free courses — back then, there weren’t really any interactive tutorials, just basic how-tos that you could try on your own. Nowadays, there are a lot of options when it comes to learning how to code, and Codecademy is one of them.

However, you may be asking: is Codecademy good for beginners, is Codecademy worth it, and what are the benefits to learning to code with Codecademy? We hope to answer those questions, and more, in our Codecademy review below.

If you’ve done any research about learning how to code, then you know that Codecademy is one of the largest online coding schools.

Codecademy offers plenty of advantages over the way I first learned to code, and I would have jumped at the chance to use a site like it when I was teaching myself.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Codecademy is good for everyone who wants to learn computer science or web development. To that end, I’ve put together three reasons you should use Codecademy, and four things you’ll want to look for when you get really serious about learning to code.

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Table of Contents

  1. TL;DR Should I Learn to Code with Codecademy
  2. What are the Benefits to Learning to Code with Codecademy?
  3. What to Look for in Online Courses if You’re Serious About Learning to Code
  4. The Takeaway: Should You Use Codecademy?

TL;DR Should I Learn to Code with Codecademy

Codecademy is free, easy to use, and has high quality courses. That being said, there’s no instructor support, a limited sense of community, and no career counseling or job placement help, so if you need additional support, Codecademy may not be for you.

Here are some of our reviews of Codecademy’s competitors:

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What are the benefits to learning to code with Codecademy?

There are some definite advantages to learning to code with Codecademy. They’ve helped more than 24 million students learn to code or improve their skill levels by providing a free learning experience for beginners.

Here are three reasons you should definitely consider using Codecademy to learn coding skills, especially when you’re first starting out:

Codecademy offers a structured curriculum and coding quizzes

1. Is Codecademy worth it (in terms of costs)? Yes, it’s free

Let’s get this one out of the way first. One of the biggest advantages Codecademy has over a lot of other companies that teach coding online is that they offer free courses while you explore skill paths and build code foundations.

You don’t have to sign up for a monthly subscription or pay by the class, although there is a Codecademy Pro upgrade. With Codecademy Pro, there’s access to real-world projects and members-only content — pricing starts at $19.99 per month for the pro plan.

For someone on a tight budget, that can be the deciding factor. And when a course is free, it automatically has a higher return on investment (since the investment is just time, not time + money), thus, it’s “worth it” if money is your main concern. Obviously, if you’re just starting out learning to code and you’re not sure if it’s for you or not, then trying out some completely free classes is an enticing place to start.

2. Is Codecademy good for beginners? Yes in that it takes care of all of the setup work for you.

One of the most annoyingly difficult things about learning to code is that oftentimes, the setup work is the hardest part. And that means that a lot of beginners never even have a fighting chance.

This isn’t the case when you’re learning front end languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. But if you’ve ever tried to noodle around with backend languages like PHP, Ruby, or Python, then YOU KNOW.

To even write a simple “Hello World” app on your local computer in Ruby you have to go through hours of computer set up installing Ruby, making sure all the “packages” are right, reconfiguring folder permissions, getting your server running, figuring out how to connect to your browser if you’re so inclined…

Just imagine hours of your day spent in the terminal trying to make sense of strange error messages you’ve never seen.

What Codecademy has done so brilliantly is make it possible for you to learn the syntax of a programming language via an interactive experience in your web browser. No setup time, whatsoever.

Yes, this IS learning to code with training wheels, but when you’re a complete beginner training wheels are 100% appropriate.

3. Codecademy covers a TON of languages and topics

Codecademy is nothing if not prolific, and one of their best features is just the breadth of their offerings. To date Codecademy courses include tutorials on HTML, CSS, Sass, JavaScript, Rails, AngularJS, ReactJS, Ruby, Command Line, Git, SQL, and Java. Not only that, Codecademy has courses for web design, web development, machine learning, data structures, data science, mobile development (including Android and iOS), and game development.

As with Coursera and edX, there is more than enough to keep you busy for a while, and more than enough opportunities for you to determine whether you like this whole coding thing and want to start learning different programming languages or exploring different career paths.

Check out this article on How to Decide Which Programming Language to Learn if you’re overwhelmed with your choices starting out.

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What to Look for in Online Courses if You’re Serious About Learning to Code

When you first start to learn to code, a site that’s free and has a super low barrier to entry is the perfect place to begin. And when you start getting serious about learning to code especially if you want to make a career change, this is what you’ll want to do next:

1. Find instructors or mentors who can support you

Codecademy Forums offer students a place to learn and share experiences

As much as we love interactive online tutorials here at Skillcrush, nothing can take the place of our real, live, human instructors and mentors who are there to help you as you’re learning to code (and the community of fellow students who back up that one-on-one experience).

Codeacademy’s answer to the need for community is their forums, as you can see from the image above.

If you’ve ever tried to teach yourself something like code, you’ve probably found that you’ll likely run into problems you can’t immediately figure out. That’s when having a dedicated instructor and classmates who are working through the same courses you are is invaluable.

Knowing that you have support at every step of the way, from instructors who work in the subjects they teach every day, and classmates who got the same class email you did that morning, gives a sense of community that makes it way easier to stay motivated and on track while you learn.

With companies like Skillcrush, you even have video chat office hours with your instructor and other students to get answers to your questions or help with pieces where you might get stuck.

2. You need to get off the web (and suffer through all that annoying setup stuff)

Remember all that miserable setup stuff I mentioned earlier? Well, guess what? That stuff comes with being a coder. Sorry!

As much as it’s fun to code in an interactive tutorial, at the end of the day, that’s not real life. Eventually, it will be time to take off those training wheels and learn how to write code the way professional developers do it.

And yes, that means you have to figure out how to install the languages and get them up and running and, no, it won’t be easy or fun, but if you’ve got a few friends in your corner (see #1) you’re going to be alright!

3. You need to learn to think like a programmer

Becoming a programmer or developer doesn’t just mean that you know how to write syntax (the rules for the language the code is written in). You have to be able to solve problems using code without anyone walking you through how to do it!

While knowing the technical specifics of a coding language is great, knowing how to actually apply that code to real-world situations is a critical part. This is where the rubber hits the road and you need practice!

Yes, after your time on Codecademy you’ll absolutely know how to write well-formatted JavaScript, Ruby, and who knows what else, and then it will be time for you to take your fancy coding skills and use ‘em to tackle some real life coding problems. Like, what time is it in Russia right now or how do you build an interactive quiz?

4. And tackle the not so exciting parts, too

Coding can be hard. It takes practice, it doesn’t always work the way you think it should, and sometimes you run into glitches and bugs that take a while to work out. That’s part of being a developer.

You need to learn to tackle the frustrating parts: to debug your own code when something doesn’t work right, to experiment with a new technique until you get it to work, or, in the worst case, to scrap something and start over with a different approach.

But don’t think of this as the bad part, this is the FUN part! The more you learn to enjoy the uncomfortable, the more successful you will be. And intentionally subjecting yourself to those types of experiences will teach you how to handle the hard parts of working as a developer so you don’t get discouraged and give up.

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The takeaway: Codecademy is a perfect starting point, but you’re going to need more if you want to get a job

If you’re just getting started learning to code, Codecademy is a great way to get a sense for what coding is and how it works. It’s also a great free way to see if coding might be something that speaks to you as a potential career option before jumping in with both feet.

However, taking advantage of lots of different learning opportunities, such as building real-world projects, is part of building your proficiency faster. When you’re starting to code, Codecademy should be just one of many good resources you have in your toolbox. Check out this roundup of 64 Online Resources to Learn to Code for Free for even more options.

Another great, free way to get started when you’re learning to code is to take Skillcrush’s Free Coding Camp to learn the basics of what a career in tech is all about, and learn to start talking like a programmer.

Aaand, when it’s time to take those training wheels off and level-up, you can start looking at paid, instructor-led options like Skillcrush’s Break Into Tech Course.

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Cameron Chapman

Cameron is a staff writer here at Skillcrush, and spends most of her time writing and editing blog posts and Ultimate Guides. She's been a freelance writer, editor, and author for going on a decade, writing for some of the world's leading web design and tech blogs. When she's not writing about design, she spends her time writing screenplays and making films (and music videos for rock and metal bands!) in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.