(• Reading Time: 10 minutes •)
Can I be a self taught web developer?
Wondering if you're going to make it as a self taught web developer learning on your own? The answer is yes.
But I'll be honest with you, it's hard as a self taught coder. Really hard. You'll get discouraged, you'll struggle.
If you persist though, it'll pay off.
Don't just take it from me, read through these stories of others like you who started as self taught developers – complete noobs who absolutely had no idea what in the world coding meant – and then accelerated their career.
And even landed jobs.
I gathered these developer stories in no specific order but mostly to inspire you.
From an 81-year old developer to a former drug addict, to an engineer who landed at Amazon, you'll find self-taught coders of all backgrounds who have gone on to write programming books. And some now mentor other developers to this day.
I hope these amazing stories from others fire you up on your own journey.
It was rough but these developers overcame the odds.
You can, too!
Let's get to the stories.
A collection of self taught web developer stories
From zero to developer at 81 years old
Masako Wakamiya noticed the lack of fun game apps for senior citizens and created her own at the age of 81. It’s called Hinadan, and it’s inspired by a traditional Japanese doll festival. We met Wakamiya, now 84, in Kanagawa, Japan, and learned how this IT evangelist and digital creator is empowering other senior citizens to make the most of technology. See more
Frying chicken to web developer and mentor
I genuinely thought I would fry chicken for the rest of my life! Once I heard I could be a dev, I couldn't stop! The reason why I got into tech was because of a rapper. This rapper was being interviewed for investing several million dollars into a tech company. The interviewer asks the obvious question, "Why did you invest into a tech company?". He replied that he was learning how to code. This blew my mind. I had always thought that programmers were the rocket scientists and PhD holders of the world! I didn't know someone like me could have the opportunity to learn this! I was 30 and working in gas stations. I found myself at a fork in the road, I can stay in this life forever or it is time for a change. So I began learning to code on freecodecamp! The absolute best decision of my life... See more
Homeless to front end web developer
- 5 yrs ago I was homeless.
- 3 yrs ago I was lived in a closet.
- yrs ago I moved into a master bdrm.
- 1 yr ago I moved into my first apartment.
- In a few weeks im moving into my first house and purchasing a new car tomorrow.
- And all of this started with learning code... See more
The military -> web development
- At 13 without school
- At 18 addicted to drugs
- At 21 just finished military clerk obligations with no hope, no future, no desire to live
- At 23 starting military career, at 28 drop off
- From 29-42 logistics
- At 42 started web dev
- At 43 landed a jr full-time job
- You. Can. Do. It! 💪... See more
From prison -> software engineering
I went to prison as a teenager. After many years I was released, learned to program, and was hired as a software engineer. If you have a felony or have been to prison and want to learn to program reach out... See more
Confused after college to senior developer**
A year and a half into my first engineering job, I was promoted to Senior Software Engineer after starting at the company as an Apprentice Software Engineer. Did I sleep? Not much. Did I date? Nope. Did I fall asleep at work on my computer? Shh.. See more here and also here
From happy hour idea to developer**
I was just a guy in a suit in an office with a vague startup idea. Then I decided to learn to code. I overheard some guy at a happy hour bragging about how easily he was able to automate his office workflows by using a language called Ruby. I thought, “huh, Ruby.” I went home, googled it, and within 15 seconds, I was working through a random Ruby tutorial. A week later, I went to... See more
From the army to Amazon
[I originally created this as a short to-do list of study topics for becoming a software engineer, but it grew to the large list you see today. After going through this study plan, I got hired as a Software Development Engineer at Amazon! You probably won't have to study as much as I did. Anyway, everything you need is here. I studied about 8-12 hours a day, for several months. This is my story: Why I studied full-time for 8 months for a Google interview. The items listed here will prepare you well for a technical interview at just about any software company, including the giants: Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft... See more
Fashion -> software engineer
In 2015 I knew almost nothing about coding. Today, I’m a software engineer and a teacher at a code school for kids. When people find out I work as an engineer, they often ask, “How can I get a job as a software engineer coming from a nontraditional background?” Well, you can’t get more nontraditional than me. I was homeschooled growing up, and I’m a college dropout. When I dropped out, I signed with an agency and modeled for fashion brands. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but my sister was a software engineer and she loved it. So one day, I took Udacity’s “Intro to Computer Science” course. And I loved it. Coding became my biggest passion. I knew I would become a software engineer. I also knew it might be the hardest thing I ever did. But I resolved to see it through. I was going to make this happen... See more
From selling food to developer
How I went from selling food in the street to working for top firms in tech: At the end of 2006, I arrived at a crossroads in my life. My hopes of becoming a secondary school linguistics teacher had vanished in an instant, as several factors had come together and made it impossible for me to continue with my studies. Back in my hometown of Durazno, Uruguay, my wife was working long hours for a meager $160 (USD) a month. Yes, that’s $1,920 a year. We had sacrificed our time together so I could become a teacher and get a better job because we were dreaming of a better future. The problem with dreams is they tend to vanish when you wake up, and life’s alarm clock had just gone off. Because my career trajectory had suddenly... See more
From restaurant manager to web developer
How I Landed My First Job as a Web Developer: I loved coding but I had one major problem holding me back: I never committed to learning. For years I would start tutorials and classes that would teach me the basics of a certain language or technology (like Dreamweaver, Java, etc.). But I never made the time to pursue anything to an advanced level. I would spend hours researching...See more
Project management -> web developer
Finishing my second year as a developer has been a huge milestone for me. This is because I had no real experience doing web development — and not much programming experience in general beyond some basic C# and Java training I got from a few online courses. I also didn’t have a computer science degree since I graduated with a degree in IT project management...See more
From landscaping to developer
A few years ago, I was bouncing back and forth between landscaping jobs and restaurant jobs. I had just left college, and didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. I had a lot of ideas, but no direction. During that time, I started teaching myself programming. At first it was a hobby. I thought it was cool to be able to build things using nothing but my brain and some code. But then I started thinking about where my life was going, and saw this as a potential living. At first, I put the idea out of my head. I couldn’t afford real education. I already dropped out of college once because of money, and if I went in for computer science, I’d have to start over. I’d leave with 6 years of school and well over $50,000 in debt if I took that route. So that wasn’t an option...See more
Lessons from these self taught web developer stories
A common theme across these developer stories is that they took massive actions after getting fed up with their current state.
So what actions do you plan on taking?
No, not later.
Not next week. Today – Now.
There's definitely something you can do right now even if it's a step you'll take for a few minutes to push you in the right direction.
- If you're an absolute beginner, you can start with a short list of the top places to learn to code. Look through and choose one from there to commit to.
- If you're already familiar with coding, you most likely need to re-evaluate and find more efficient ways to learn to code so you can accelerate your growth.
- And if you want even more tips to guide you towards mastery, checkout lessons for beginners and junior developers.
Remember, the ball's in your court.
Thanks for reading
- FREE Cheatsheet: I help new programmers and junior devs focus on what matters instead of endless trial and error. If you're interested in boosting your confidence and skills, checkout our free cheatsheet.
- Follow on Twitter: Have a question, I'm most active on Twitter – feel free to reach out to me. My DM is open.
Heads Up - I love research so I tend to back my advice and approach with concepts from Behavioral Psychology and Neuroscience.