Hey everyone! I’m Corbin, founder of Skillquest, and this is my guide to starting a coding education at all levels, all ages. I care a lot about fun, so all of these are the fun ways, which will keep you engaged and help you to learn the most. All of these are web base. No fancy software or hardware required. It’s a short road between here and starting your education, so let’s move!

Why Learn Code?

First off, let’s talk about why you should learn to code.

  1. The industry needs you! Between now and 2035, America will retire hundreds of thousands of tech workers, and currently can only backfill 10% of them.
  2. It’s great pay! The national average wage is a bit over $30k/yr. Software, data science, and cybersecurity all earn at or above $110k/yr on average.
  3. You don’t need a fancy college education. The industry needs you so bad that you have flexible education options. You can choose to self-teach, do a bootcamp, or of course go to college. No matter which way you learn, what gets you hired will be your portfolio – demonstrate what you can do!

Before you dig in, understand that you can start learning at any level, and ultimately you’re just a few minutes away from developing new skills! I’ve taught everyone from elementary schoolers to professional cloud engineers, and they’re all just curious people like you who say “yes” to the next challenge. So no matter where you start, you’re on a great path! Let’s go!

Step 1 – Starting Off with Visual Programming

Where should you start? If you’ve never coded before, no matter who you are, I recommend you start with a visual programming language. That will help you learn programming CONCEPTS without having to deal with SYNTAX (which is what commonly trips people up). If you’re young (12ish or less), visual programming will keep you challenged for a while. If you’re older, you may move on to a written language quickly. Either way, it’s a good first step, and the links below will teach you Scratch (an easy visual programming language).

If you want a short experience (~30 min to 1 hr), I recommend the code.org Minecraft tutorials. If that’s you, click the link and get started!

For longer experiences (several hours), go for the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Scratch tutorials. They’ve got story, personalization, and a lot of fun challenges!

Step 2 – Learning a Professional Coding Language

Next up, dip your to into your first “real” programming language. That is to say, one that professional programmers use – Python. Python is the perfect language to start with, because about 40% of new professional projects are written in it, and it’s easily readable. Many engineers only ever write Python in their career, so this can get you all the way! The links below start off slow, and get progressively more difficult.

Also, most people don’t know that programming is made up of 7 simple tools, and you can learn the first 5 in the first hour. So dive in!

To start off, especially for 12ish years or less, try out the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Python projects. It will walk you through the coding basics, and you can move onto a more complex project at any point!

Next, if you like games, take on this Replit tutorial that teaches how to build a game with Python. You’ll need an account, but Replit will let you write the code and run the program right on the website. You can continue with their content to learn even more!

Looking for an even more advanced challenge? Check out one of Skillquest’s portfolio-ready projects, like coding a bot to play the game Rocket League.

Step 3 – Build Things!

Congrats, you’ve tackled the hardest part of learning to code! Now, your powers will let you build anything out there. The links below will show you some portfolio-ready projects that you’ll need the skills above to tackle, but they’re things people will pay you for!

Whatever you do, make sure you save your work so you can show it off! The more people who see it, the more opportunities you’ll have to learn and develop career prospects.