Entering a programming state of mind

How long does it take to learn JavaScript?

Artur Meyster
© Shutterstock / GaudiLab

While it may take two weeks to a month to learn HTML and CSS, it will take a bit longer to learn JavaScript. So what is the best course of action? This article explores some paths to gaining expert JavaScript proficiency.

If you are new to coding, you may wonder if you can get a grasp of a programming language within weeks. The answer is simply: no. It’s next to impossible to gain expert knowledge of all the programming languages in demand and obtain a junior developer job in such a short amount of time.

Luckily, many companies will hire junior developers who are still gaining proficiency in certain in-demand languages. One of those languages is JavaScript.

JavaScript is the most common language for making webpages interactive. To really grab the attention of visitors to your website, you will want it to have interactive features.

But how long will it really take to learn the basics of JavaScript? Let’s dive in and see.

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What is JavaScript?

Since 1995, JavaScript has been huge in the programming world. It has influenced many programming languages.

It is very different from HTML and CSS. While HTML and CSS are simple markup languages that provide structure and presentation to your website, JS is a full scripting language that controls many of the dynamic interactions on a webpage. If you look at your favorite webpage, you may notice responsive buttons, pop-ups, and alert boxes. Those were probably coded using JavaScript.

While it may take two weeks to a month to learn HTML and CSS, it will take a bit longer to learn JavaScript.

How long does it take exactly?

To answer this question it’s important to know that it’s hard to set a definitive point when you have a mastery of a programming language. If you are reading this article it’s safe to say you know English, but can you say you can define every word in the English dictionary? Unless you happen to work for Webster it’s unlikely, much like how many JavaScript developers may not know every aspect of the language but can still use it effectively.

Unlike HTML and CSS, JS will take months to learn. Most programmers will say that it will take at least 6-9 months to learn basic JavaScript and really be comfortable with it. Even then, you will still spend years gaining new skills and a deeper understanding of JavaScript, as well as many of the hundreds of other programming languages.

So is it hard to learn?

JavaScript isn’t exactly hard to learn, but if it’s your first programming language adjusting to the mindset required for programming can take a lot of time.

JavaScript is actually one of the easier programming languages to start with. In fact, there are several resources available to help you learn it with ease. We discuss some of these resources below.

However, JavaScript is updated often. Therefore, you will need to stay abreast of these updates throughout your programming career. In addition, because it provides a number of ways to accomplish the same task, advanced JavaScript can present a number of headaches to programmers.

As you become proficient, you will be cultivating a programming state of mind. That state of mind will help you learn other programming languages. In fact, you will see many similarities between JavaScript and other programming languages when you learn those as well.

How do I learn JavaScript?

There are many resources available that can help you learn basic JavaScript. It’s important to note, though, that you have to learn HTML and CSS in order to understand some of the concepts of basic JavaScript.

For starters, there are many books, both print and digital, that are awesome reference resources for learning and reviewing JavaScript. There are many excellent books on JavaScript. Some books like Eloquent JavaScript and the You Don’t Know JS series are available for free on some websites.

Once you’re prepared to put some of your chops to work, there are plenty of applications and sites where you can practice coding. Grasshopper, SoloLearn, Mimo, and Codecademy all provide awesome JavaScript tutorials and exercises to prepare you for the programming world with the basics. In addition, a lot of these applications and sites make learning fun, helping you easily retain the information.

When you feel that you are ready to take a step further, move towards sites such as freeCodeCamp, The Odin Project, Team Treehouse, and Coursera to get full self-paced courses. These will give you a better conceptual understanding of JavaScript and will help you through practices with the language as well. These sites often contain projects associated with the lessons. Once you become acquainted with these, you can take it a step further by building your own projects.

Finally, if you really want to gain the full-fledged experience and to open perhaps more doors to becoming a software engineer, another avenue for learning practical JS is coding bootcamps like Flatiron School, Lambda School, and App Academy. These bootcamps offer prep courses that not only provide instruction on basic concepts of JavaScript, but they also introduce you to the curricula of the bootcamps. If these suit your learning style, you can apply to accelerated programs at their respective coding schools. These schools will help you develop your skills and pursue a career in web development or software engineering.

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As we mentioned, many experienced programmers with years of experience in coding with several languages still continue to learn new JavaScript concepts.

However, with the number of resources available how quickly you’d like to learn the basics is up to you.


Artur Meyster

Artur Meyster is the CTO of Career Karma (YC W19), an online marketplace that matches career switchers with coding bootcamps. He is also the host of the Breaking Into Startups podcast, which features people with non-traditional backgrounds who broke into tech.

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