9 Ways Developers Prefer to Learn How to Code

How do software developers and engineers learn to code? According to the latest Stack Overflow Developer Survey, they rely on a variety of techniques, from online videos to books to advice from colleagues. For anyone who ever doubted whether their technique for learning code was “correct,” this is good news—virtually every approach is A-OK, so long as it works for you.

The Stack Overflow Developer Survey is comprehensive, pulling data from more than 70,000 respondents. Here’s how those respondents learn to code; as you can see, the total is well over 100 percent, since developers and engineers can (and should) rely on multiple methods:

When you break learning methods down by age, things get even more interesting. Younger technologists clearly prefer online resources such as video, with much less emphasis on coding bootcamps or learning from colleagues and friends:

Older developers (i.e., those between the ages of 55 and 64) also rely heavily on online resources, but they’re also more inclined to utilize books and physical media. This could reflect lifelong habits, as many of these developers began their learning journeys before many kinds of online resources became popular. Here’s the full breakdown for that age group:

Overall, the percentage of those learning to code online increased from 60 percent to 70 percent year-over-year. This could be a side effect of the pandemic; with in-person classes and training still gearing back up, developers everywhere are continuing to head online for their educational opportunities.

According to Emsi Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings, many tech-related jobs ask for a bachelor’s degree—but comparatively few want an advanced degree. Given the hiring pressures on many companies at the moment, recruiters and hiring managers are also willing to hire technologists who can simply prove they have the skills; as you’re applying for jobs, make sure that you have a portfolio or code repo of previous work, and that you can demonstrate your mastery in a testing scenario.