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5 coding myths that deter new programmers

I'm Fahim, a software developer turned tech founder. This article is part of my series: The Developer's Launchpad. I'll share my top lessons, hacks, and best practices for learning how to code and launching a new career - things I wish I would've known earlier in my journey. If you're starting out your own coding journey, this series is for you.

If you are exploring learning how to code, you have likely heard a lot of truths - and mistruths - about what it's like.
Today I want to separate the facts from the fiction, and explore 5 common misconceptions about learning how to code:

  • You have to be a math expert.
  • You need a degree to be a professional coder.
  • Coding isn't for everyone.
  • Coding is an antisocial job.
  • Learning to code takes forever.

Let's get started.

5 coding myths that deter new coders

1. You have to be a math expert.

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However, the reality is that the level of math you need to know may not be so intense. In fact, you don't need to know much beyond arithmetic, geometry, and basic algebra to start learning to code today. If you learn to code the right way, you should be starting out with problem-solving and logic skills - and strengthening those will surely make the math you need easier for you.
How much math you'll need to learn over time depends on your specialization. For instance, front-end web developers and mobile developers may not need much beyond the topics I already mentioned, but back-end developers would need to know more advanced math like calculus and trigonometry. Meanwhile, specializations like machine learning engineers and game developers require greater math skills (e.g., statistics, linear algebra, etc.).
That said, I realize that any notion of math in the coding journey is very burdening for people who struggle with math anxiety. As someone who has studied closely with peers dealing with the same hurdles, I can attest that with enough practice, it will get better!

You can find a breakdown in this blog post of how much math different developers need to know.

You need a degree to be a professional coder.

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There are various professions that require a degree - but coding is not one of them.
It's the heyday of learning to code, and you have various learning routes to choose from. Learning resources are plentiful, and you can find something that's right for your particular preferences and lifestyle. You can learn to code online, complete a coding bootcamp, or become a fully fledged self-taught developer through whichever means suit you.
Not every profession is as lucky. It's impossible to become a lawyer without a degree. In contrast, you can land a 6 figure job as a programmer without a degree (and you don't have to take out a loan to pay tens of thousands of dollars in tuition fees).

If you want to learn online, you can get hands-on while building your portfolio with Educative's 50+ Learn to Code courses and projects.

3. Coding isn't for everyone.

Some people want to learn coding. They start, they get stuck, and then they give up. Struggling and getting stuck is a normal part of the learning process - but too many people think it's a sign that they're not cut out for coding.
Every time we start something entirely new, it's going to be hard. Of course, this applies with learning coding. I've said it before and I'll say it again: you should expect road bumps, but don't let them discourage you.
No matter how daunting it seems, just remember that you already have the most important developer skill in you - and that's problem-solving. By learning to code, you'll be learning how to communicate with a computer to solve those problems for you.
Unfortunately, the myth that coding isn't for everyone impacts both new and experienced developers. We see it manifest in those who have imposter syndrome: a constant doubt of their talents and success, to the point that they feel they're imposters. If you experience imposter syndrome, know that you're not alone, and it can be overcome in time.

4. Coding is an antisocial job.

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Most non-programmers tend to assume that it's a highly individualistic job. The **** to perpetuate the imagery of an unsocial programmer: a quiet guy dressed in an underwhelming color palette with his head down in a cubicle.
I cannot stress enough how false this is. Take it from me. I've hired for various teams at Microsoft, Facebook, and my own company, Educative, and I can tell you that - all other things equal - employers want to hire the "people person."
The success of a software development project is contingent on teamwork. In fact, empathy and being a "people person" are some of the characteristics that make for great developers.
At the end of the day, programming is motivated by solving peoples' problems, and good software is born out of collaborative activities, from code reviews to pair programming, to talking out a bug with a coworker. Being able to work with and consider other people is exactly how you'll be able to build great software for the people who will use it.

5. Learning to code takes forever.

Learning to code doesn't have to take a long time. (If this is surprising to you, consider the fact that developers have landed jobs within a matter of months after coding bootcamps
The amount of time it takes, however, depends on how much time you have to commit to studying and practicing coding.

If you can commit a consistent effort of 15–25 hours/week, it could take you 6 to 9 months to learn - even without a coding background. But if you can only afford to learn coding part-time, just plan for your journey to take longer.

If 6–9 months seems long to you, think again. Imagine you went to a running coach and told them you want to run a marathon in 3 days - the coach would show you the door the next minute. Similarly, no magic tutorial will make you job-ready for a 6 figure salary in the blink of an eye.

Clearing the path to success

Believing a myth can be dangerous to the psyche. We tend to have confirmation bias and look for supporting evidence to validate myths that otherwise aren't aligned with reality. With a skewed view of what it takes to be a programmer, many aspiring coders unfortunately walk the other way.
If you're aspiring to code yourself, I hope today's piece helped clarify some concerns you may have been carrying. If it did, please share it with a friend who found it useful!

If you're interested in learning to code online, we've hand picked 50+ hands-on courses and projects to help you build a strong foundation for your career - check out our Learn to Code resources at Educative and get started with a free trial today.

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