Main image of article 8 Top Ways Developers Learn Coding and Software Development

What’s the best way to learn coding and software development? The answer is straightforward: Whatever works best for you. Some technologists prefer in-person classes, while others learn best by reading documentation online. 

According to the latest edition of Stack Overflow’s exhaustive annual Developer Survey, some 59 percent of developers learned how to code from online resources such as blogs and videos, outpacing those who learned via school (53 percent), books and similar physical media (51 percent), and online courses (40 percent). Stack Overflow drew this data from nearly 83,000 responses:

At first glance, this data suggests that many developers are self-taught, carefully sorting through different kinds of online media to learn what they need. When responses are broken down by age, though, things shift a bit. For example, a higher percentage of developers over the age of 45 learned their skills via books and school; younger developers (i.e., those under the age of 34) were much more likely to pick up their coding knowledge from online resources and classes.

If you’re just starting out, which programming languages should you focus on learning? That’s a tough question, but it could pay off to focus on the more popular ones, such as Python and JavaScript, that come with numerous job opportunities. These generalist languages open up opportunities in a number of industries, and are often the gateway to working in more specialized sub-fields such as finance and artificial intelligence (A.I.). The following data is taken from Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country:

No matter how you learned your skills, employers may ask you to demonstrate your mastery during the job interview, so make sure that you’re ready for a coding challenge (or two).