Whether you’re looking for a new career in tech or just hoping to develop a cool hobby, coding is a useful skill to develop.

But with every prospective ability comes the age-old question: How much time is this going to take?

The answer is widely disputed: a Google search of “how long does it take to become proficient at something” will give you answers that range from 20 to 10,000 hours.

Yeah, we didn’t think that was helpful either.

As a general rule, don’t expect to become coding proficient in less than three months of full-time study, and depending on your professional goals, preferred programming language, acumen, and personal passion, it could take longer. Learning code is kind of like learning a foreign language — don’t expect to become fluent overnight.

Luckily, while there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question “how long does it take to learn programming?”, here are a few general time ranges to consider for those who are dedicated to reaching their goal.

6 – 13 Weeks

An effective way to learn coding quickly is through immersive coding bootcamps, which are generally several months in length and take up about eight hours a day.

These can tackle anything from web development to software creation, and generally provide a secure foundation of coding knowledge that can be used in a variety of tech careers. If you have the time to devote to such a rigorous schedule, there are real advantages to programs like this.

Regular, hands-on assignments over the course of an immersive coding bootcamp allow students to put this research into practice. Even better, by devoting this much time to programming over such a short period, individuals can begin to pursue jobs in as little as thirteen weeks.

To see how a coding bootcamp can help prepare you for your dream career as a junior developer, check out this video.

Bootcamps are quickly becoming a preferred route to coding proficiency, but they’re not the only route. If your schedule doesn’t have enough wiggle room to let you attend an immersive, full-time course, you could also take the slightly longer path.

About 3 – 6 Months

With passion and focus, an hour or two a day can go a long way over the course of several months. Whether it’s through programs like our After-Hours Bootcamp, or utilizing online resources, it’s very possible to find a way to balance coding with your busy schedule.

There are many advantages with a more laid-back method of learning to code. For instance, in many cases, it may be a more cost-effective option. It’s also a better way to accommodate other areas of your life that you can’t put on pause.

Basically, you wouldn’t have to eat, sleep, and breathe coding. Instead, you’ll get a steady supply of coding experience, spread thin over a longer period of time.

Finally, spacing your learning across several months provides a generally more relaxed way to develop a new skill. Who wouldn’t want that?

The downside is, the longer you take to become proficient at coding, the longer it takes to make anything of it. There’s also a real risk, especially with self-guided study, that you’ll struggle to retain the information. In the end, you are in charge of your own progress — so personal discipline is definitely a deciding factor

2 – 4 Years

A university education is also an option worthy of serious consideration. By spreading lessons over the course of several years, college allows students the opportunity to experiment with different subjects.

College also provides rigorous structure without the intensity of an immersion program, which some individuals need to thrive.

Of course, a university study method has its drawbacks. Most obvious: it’s at least four times longer than the six-month mark, not to mention it can still be difficult to balance full-time work with college. 

A Lifetime

The fact of the matter is, whether it takes you weeks, months, or years to become proficient at coding, there will always be more to learn. With the tech field progressing at breakneck speed, people at all levels – from those who just started learning to code to experts who have been coding for thirty years – have something they can improve. So, if you’ve found yourself wanting to learn how to code, there’s no time like the present. Check out our course list, and you could learn coding in as little as 13 weeks.