There has never been a better time to learn to code or make a career change to software engineering. The demand for web developers is at an all-time high, and it’s only increasing. There are both free and premium tutorials online that teach you the skills to get a job as a developer — no CS degree required 🤓.
This article details the needed skills and the corresponding tutorials to learn them effectively. The illustrated guide is provided by Kamran Ahmed and can be found on roadmaps.sh or the GitHub repo — Kamran’s work is excellent so be sure to star the repo and subscribe to his newsletter to support his efforts. Don’t be intimidated by the map. It may seem like a lot, but I’ll break it down so you can learn each part step-by-step.
This article will be divided into the following sections:
These are all products that I personally recommend. For some of them, I do receive compensation if you use the links in the article. If you do find something you like, your support is appreciated.
1. Required Learning for Any Path
We will start with skills every developer needs to learn, and these will be used in all the paths — Frontend, Backend, or DevOps.
To be effective as a developer, you should be proficient with the command line, know how to version control your code with Git, and understand the fundamentals of the web.
The command line is how you run your code. You must be able to navigate and execute the required commands. The better you are on the command line, the more efficient you will be as a developer.
Pick a Text Editor
VS Code is the is the top choice for web developers, which makes it a great place to start — it’s personally what I use. It is free and open source, with tons of plugins to make you more productive. However, there are many excellent options available such as Atom, WebStorm, or Vim (for the hardcore).
The text editor is where you will write all your code, and the terminal is where you execute it. As a developer, this is where you live. Spend some time to pick the right editor, set up the plugins, and learn the hotkeys. Having the right workflow can dramatically increase your productivity.
Git and Version Control
Git is the tool used to save code and create different versions, allowing you to collaborate with other developers. The top place to store code and collaborate on open source software is GitHub.
2. Introduction to Programming
If you know that you either only want to work with data or exclusively on the backend, learning Python is the other option that is good for beginners.
There are plenty of high-quality free options to get started with coding. freeCodeCamp and Codecademy are excellent choices and are great to set your foundation.
If you want to speed things up, these are some great premium courses to go start from a beginner in JS and advance quickly.
If you are looking for a subscription option with courses that will take you from beginner to pro, a great option is Pluralsight. You must sign up for a subscription (free trial offered), but they have excellent content on almost everything.
3. Learn Frontend Development
HTML and CSS
HTML and CSS are typically learned together. HTML is the skeleton of the page that gives is structure, and CSS is the language that gives it style.
UI Libraries (React, Vue, Angular)
Modern UI development has gravitated towards a component model with 3 libraries as the primary ones used by professional frontend engineers— React, Vue, and Angular. You are better off knowing one of these libraries very well as opposed to trying to learn all 3. Then on the job, you will be able to pick up something different if the company uses a framework that you did not learn. React is the most popular, but Vue and Angular are both being adopted rapidly.
4. Learn Backend Development
The backend is where you communicate with the database, handle business logic, and send the necessary data to the frontend.
Working with a database is core to being a backend engineer, and I will also outline tutorials to learn SQL, NoSQL, and GraphQL. While NoSQL has become more popular, SQL is still by far the most utilized database type and is essential to learn.
The database is the permanent storage for the data of your application. Typically the backend will make a query against the database during an API call. There are 2 common database types — SQL and NoSQL.
PostgreSQL / MySQL
These are two top SQL implementations and likely what you will see utilized at most companies.
GraphQL itself is not a database but a query language on top of databases. Many people believe it is going to revolutionize app development and totally change how we build APIs. It is rapidly gaining adoption and being utilized by tech giants and top startups.
As a bonus, try Hasura. It allows you to generate GraphQL using a web UI and automatically builds a Postgres database for you.
Mongo is the most popular NoSQL database used with Node. It stores data in documents which are
Python is easy for beginners but also utilized extensively by tech giants and startups for backends, data science, and scripting.
Go is relatively new but has seen rapid adoption. It is a statically-typed language but is also incredibly developer-friendly. This makes it ideal for building services.
Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails was the go-to startup language for years. It’s ease of use and convention-driven language made it easy to rapidly build products.
5. Learn DevOps Engineering
DevOps manages the infrastructure of a company. They set up the processes to deploy your web apps and manage traffic to the site. DevOps engineers focus on allowing other teams to get code into production as fast as possible and make sure the servers are always up and running while and sending content to the end-user as quickly as possible.
The field of DevOps is very broad, and the choices they make impact every engineering team. Some essential topics to learn as a DevOps engineer include:
- Linux: Linux is used on 67%+ servers and is highly likely what you would use as a DevOps engineer. It is essential to thoroughly understand it.
- Security: Make sure your entire cloud is secured and encrypted. Also set up the APIs such that all content is served through HTTPS and not susceptible to common attacks.
- Command Line / Terminals: We introduced the command line in the first section, but it even more essential for a DevOps engineer. You must thoroughly understand how it works and the Linux commands and be prepared to SSH into remote servers. You will also be writing scripts and automating programs for the entire company.
- Automated Testing: DevOps sets up a system of automated testing so that all code that enters production has been thoroughly vetted and reduces the possibility of introducing bugs or regressions.
- Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD): Set up a pipeline for deployment so that code is automatically merged into production while reducing manual touchpoints for individual developers. Automated testing using plays a large role in CI/CD.
- Containers: Containers are a core part of infrastructure, with most startups and tech giants utilizing Docker and/or Kubernetes in some form. A container ensures that your code is always executed in a clean and reproducible environment.
- Cloud Providers: Understand how to manage servers in the cloud using one of the popular providers such as AWS, GCP, or Azure.
- Log Management: Having proper logging is essential. It allows you to diagnose bugs and find the root cause for any issues in your application.
Introduction to Algorithms — While not the most beginner-friendly book, it is thorough. Take this step once you really feel like it’s time to understand algorithms thoroughly.
Algorithms — This course is taught in Java, but the learning outcomes are still valid. You gain a thorough understanding of the most important algorithms in computer science. The course is taught by Princeton on Coursera.
7. Software Engineering Books
This selection is 5 books that will either make you a better coder in general or an essential book you will need at some point in your career, such as during interviews. Or, see a complete list of programming book recommendations.
If you are learning to web development, there is also a high likelihood you’re interested in startups. These are some of the top books about startups and the philosophies of those that are successful.
8. Job Advice and Wrap Up
By following these tutorials, you will be on your way to becoming a professional web developer. Make sure to start building real projects as quickly as possible and begin applying to jobs. Projects and deployed web apps are the best way to show a company that you will be able to contribute once you are hired.
Finding the first job is always a numbers game, so the more you apply, the better your odds are of getting an offer. It can take months though, so be ready for the long road. However, you will get one eventually and every job going forward will be much easier to get after landing that first role.
- Build a portfolio website and use the portfolio API to power the data. The ability to show you can build applications is essential to hiring managers.
- Apply to as many jobs as you can as long as they fit your skillset. Don’t give up! You will eventually find your role if you keep working. It’s a long and hard road, but well worth the effort if you are passionate about the field.
- Practice for the interview. Use “Cracking the Coding Interview” and websites to become comfortable with answering interview questions.
- Keep building projects — projects are the best way to learn and show that you understand how to build apps for the real world.