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General Discussion

Jordan Pierre
Jordan Pierre
16,601 Points

How many languages do I need to know?

Hello Everyone,

I am currently working on changing my career to doing some type of coding in the tech world. I'm still not exactly sure about if I want to be a front-end dev, back-end dev, iOS dev, ruby dev, etc. And I find myself switching tracks a lot. So my question is, should I learn a bunch of different languages, so I can be more versatile? Or should I try to pick one language and master that one language?

5 Answers

To be honest, I don't think you need to be a master at almost any language to be able to land a job working with that language and do really well in it. If you're starting out, no one is expecting you to be a complete guru at the language; they just expect you to get the job at hand done and be willing to constantly learn. Most of the work you'll be doing as a dev will most likely have already been done in some capacity, and we're lucky enough to be in an industry where helping each other out is the norm.

With that said, if you're dabbling between languages a lot, I would recommend you focus on one for a bit to a point where you feel really comfortable with it and can do some somewhat complicated stuff with. Just pick whatever seems more appealing to you. The main reason I recommend you to do this is because once you learn the ins-and-outs of one language, your second and third will be a whole lot easier. Much of the same rules you'll learn for one will apply to the next. So if you're dabbling at the surface of several languages too much, you won't get the change to get into the nitty-gritty of programming. Once you've learned how to do advanced stuff in one language, you'll find that the general concepts are the same from one language to another and you just need to figure out some of the specifics.

Jordan Pierre
Jordan Pierre
16,601 Points

Thanks Nick, I really appreciate your fed back.

Same here, Nick. That's very encouraging; I'm in the same boat as Jordan.

Is Javascript considered to be a 'real' language? :-)

Yes. I would absolutely consider it a real language. You'll find people that will bash on pretty much any language, but Javascript is one of the most widely used and versatile programming languages out there. I do most of my programming in JS.

That's really interesting, Nick. I'm taking any opportunity to pick industry professionals' brains at the moment!

How good do I need to get to land a Junior Frontend Developer job? And is Treehouse enough for this?

And how would I progress into Design from there?

Bonus Credit: If I go down the Backend Developer route (because maybe it's easier to land the first job as one of those), would that be sensible if my long-term aim is to work in Frontend Design and UX Design?

Haha pick away. I've only doing this for a couple of years but I had the same questions you had, so I'm happy to answer questions. Honestly one of the best ways to find out what you should learn and what kind of experience you need is to look at job listings. Just go to LinkedIn and see what people are asking as qualifications. For front-end devs, you'll see that experience with Javascript/jQuery is a biggie. Knowing front-end MVC frameworks like AngularJS or BackboneJS are becoming really popular and sought-after, and if you know Javascript, learning those is pretty easy (they're based on Javascript). Then you should have a solid understanding of CSS, preferably experience with Sass and be able to show some activity on your GitHub account. If you don't have one, set one up. There's a Git tutorial here that will give you what you need to get started.

I think it's a really good idea to have some knowledge of back-end development, but if you ultimately want to do front-end, focus mainly on that. Front-end is much easier to pick up if you don't have a CS background, in my opinion.

In terms of design, I suggest learning as much as you can about it. I just read a great book called Design for Hackers that's a great place to start. Then start designing stuff and try to put a portfolio together.

To be honest, coming from someone that is just getting done with the getting started/I don't know what the hell I'm doing phase, it's a lot of work, but none of it is particularly difficult. It just takes lots of time and practice.

Thanks so much, Nick, that's really encouraging and informative, and that's exactly what I need right now.

How did you get into it 2 years ago?

I started out as an IT coordinator at my university when I was still a student about 4 years ago helping out with SQL stuff on a database and doing updates to our website mainly through a CMS. That evolved into me becoming the webmaster for that site which got me started on learning a lot more web stuff. Once I graduated, I got hired at a web development agency as a project manager. At around the same time, I started freelancing, making WordPress sites on my own. And finally after more than a year of basically working two jobs (freelancing and my regular day job) I got a job as a front-end developer for a small start-up.

Cheers Nick. It sounds like the only real challenge for me is getting real world experience that I can demonstrate to potential employers. I'm not sure how I'm going to do that if I'm living outside of the UK. Any ideas?

PS: I learned about half of what I know if not more from Treehouse.

Not sure if this has been posted before but there is a kick ass youtube video on what you need to learn to get into the web design/developer industry. He goes through the paths for both front and back end developers.

Check it out here