Software Development
The Best Online Programming Course Providers of 2013
Posted 12/16/2013 6 minutes
By Brad Zomick
By Brad Zomick

The year 2013 has been a great one for the growing IT and programming sector. As more and more of life’s day-to-day work and personal activities are being simplified by software and web technologies, the need for programmers has also risen tremendously. In fact, while the U.S. unemployment rate hovered in the 7% range for most of 2013, tech professionals fared much better with an  unemployment rate of just roughly half the national average.1

Web and app development languages dominate the list of the most popular programming languages2 as mobile and responsive design become the norm. Moreover, average programming salaries are increasing by 5% to 10%, significantly better than the average 3% most other sectors can expect, according to the Robert Half Technology Salary Guide.3

In short, it’s a good time to learn to code. So, without further ado, we bring you the best online programming course providers of 2013!

Team Treehouse

Treehouse is a learning platform that provides the full package, a great option for newbie coders who want to learn how to build websites from the ground up. Treehouse has a library of 1,000+ high quality videos, with a strong focus on HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby, PHP, mobile, and responsive design. The platform also includes business and marketing courses for those who plan on starting their own website or app. Treehouse offers very structured learning paths, which serve as guides for those with little experience. Lessons come with quizzes and coding challenges to help reinforce new concepts quickly. When you get stuck, there’s an active forum, where ongoing discussions between instructors and your fellow learners can always be found. The icing on the cake is the job board, where employers post jobs that are exclusive to qualified Treehouse members only. (Full Review)

Subjects Covered HTML, CSS, Javascript, User Experience, WordPress, Ruby, PHP, iOS Development, Android Development, Business.
Format Video, quizzes, coding challenges
Amount of Content 11 learning paths with 1,000+ videos
Price Basic Subscription is $25/month; Pro is $49/month. Discount now available: Get an Annual Basic subscription for $250 (2 months free) or an Annual Pro subscription for $490 (2 months free)

Code School

For people looking for a highly engaging and fun learning experience, Code School is worth a look. It was designed by Envy Labs, an agency that creates training platforms for the likes of Github and Cisco. Thus, expect its teaching methodologies to be among the most advanced in self-serve online courses. Code School offers structured learning paths for HTML/CSS, JavaScript, Ruby, and iOS. Each course within the path is set up as a game with a unique storyline and theme song. Meanwhile, modules within each course are set up as levels with coding challenges built in, and the only way to move on is to unlock a badge that requires you to “beat the level.” Courses on Code School are very challenge-heavy, which ensures that you adequately practice what you learn. While there are a some beginner content (available for free), Code School is better suited for those who are already familiar with the basics. (Full Review)

Subjects Covered HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Coffeescript, Node.js, Backbone.js, jQuery, Ruby, Rails, Git, SASS, iOS, Objective-C, Responsive Design
Format Videos, Challenges, Quizzes
Amount of Content 4 learning paths with 36 courses and 1700 challenges
Price $29/month

$290/year

Learnable

Learnable is another course provider that is backed by a respected parent company—Sitepoint, in this case. Primarily known as a book publishing house with a strong focus on web development and design, Sitepoint invited all of its best authors to provide instruction on their area of expertise for the Learnable platform. There’s ample material for all user levels at Learnable, but beginners may be put off by the lack of structure, as there are 80 courses plus Sitepoint’s very extensive book catalogue to wade through. Still, Sitepoint’s publishing background is a plus for those who like to learn via reading text: Learnable courses are a hybrid of video and text, complementing the available books already published by Sitepoint. Most courses include working files for practice and have active discussion threads. There is also a weekly Q&A session, conducted old-school style via a chat room administered by subject matter experts, a great learning method for those who like to read! (Full Review)

Subjects Covered JavaScript, jQuery, PHP, CSS3, HTML5, Node.JS, Photoshop, WordPress, Ruby, Responsive Web Design, Mobile, Android, iOS, Marketing, Business, Blogging
Format Video, articles, downloadable exercise files, books
Amount of Content 80+ books, 55+ courses
Price $29/month

$180/year

Thinkful

Thinkful

Thinkful.4

Thinkful introduces a personal element to learning programming with live mentorship. Its platform is built around expert instruction from seasoned developers as well as an organic learning community . The learning experience represents a major change of pace, complementing the use of self-serve videos and text material; code editors and custom consoles for practice; and forums or discussion threads, whenever available. Thinkful programs have a set three-month curriculum that consists of a series of coding challenges and a personalized learning approach via a dedicated mentor as well as a learning community who you can go to for help. (Full Review)

Subjects Covered HTML, CSS, Javascript, Design Fundamentals, AJAX, UX, JSON, Jquery, Github, Python, Ruby
Format Curated Content from Codeschool (subscription included), Treehouse and others, Once weekly mentor sessions, office hours and assignments
Amount of Content 12-week course
Price Front-End Coding: $300/month
Ruby: $500/month
Python: $500/month

Frontend Masters

For those who are well into their journey to becoming a full-stack developer, Frontend Masters offers high quality training that significantly ramps up existing web development skills. Two things set Frontend Masters apart from the rest. First, they have assembled a crack team of some of the most seasoned web developers in the game. There is not one instructor who hasn’t worked on a recognizable product/website or authored a book on web development. Secondly, the courses are filmed from live seminars and include live questions from the audience. The videos are also remastered so that you can actually see your instructor next to the code being discussed, but in a more personal way than your typical “screen within a screen” setup.

Subjects Covered HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, JQuery, Backbone.JS, Node.JS, AngularJS, Responsive Design
Format Video, cheat sheets and additional resources via download
Amount of Content 13 courses
Price $39/month
$299/year (36% off)

General Assembly

General Assembly is new to the online education space but making ripples quickly. Within the span of a only a couple of years, they morphed from a NYC-based co-working space to a global education business, hosting online courses and live bootcamps for programmers, designers, and entrepreneurs around the world. Their online course product, Front Row offers both self-serve and live streaming seminars and courses. Recently, they launched Dash, a fun (and free) interactive front-end development tutorial that is similar to Codecademy.

Languages HTML, CSS, JavaScript, git, JQuery, Agile, Scrum, API, Responsive Design, Marketing, Business, and Design
Format 20-40 minute video seminars, daily live streams
Amount of Content 140+ seminars
Price Dash, free

Front Row, $25/month

PluralSight

If you are a software developer or network administrator, PluralSight is the cure for all your woes. Known as the site for “hardcore devs and IT training,” PluralSight has an expansive library that goes well beyond the prevailing trend of web technologies. Microsoft developer technologies like .NET, C#, SQL, and SharePoint are among the most popular courses in their offering. PluralSight has also succeeded in luring top authors in these niches, and given them a platform to provide training that has high production value, while staying relevant on the latest trends. Earlier this year, PluralSight’s portfolio doubled in size with the acquisition of Train Signal, its primary competitor.

Languages Sharepoint, Windows Server, SQL Server, ASP.NET, JavaScript, Networking, Windows 8, Exchange Server, .NET, Visual Studio, Java, C#, C++
Format Video, assignments, exercise files
Amount of Content 1,252 courses
Price Basic: $29/month, $299/year

With exercise files: $49/month, $499/year

Anyone Can Do It!

The best part is that programming is a meritocracy. You can get jobs and move up the ranks based on work you have done, not by what certificate or degree you have or who you know. Learn programming and write a ton of code, and you can land a job.5 In fact, the unemployment rate for computer science grads is almost 9%,6 which proves a degree is not worth much. Meanwhile, guys like Mark Zuckerburg didn’t even finish college and they are multi-millionaires. And then there’s David Karp who didn’t even bother going to college after creating Tumblr when he was in high school. In short, it is a good time to learn to code and anyone can do  it. You can start today by searching for an online course. Good luck!

Is this a career that sounds interesting to you? Let us know in the comment section or read some of our related articles below.

Learn Web-Development a curated collection

Footnotes
  1. Tech unemployment rate sees slight uptick. Boston Business Journal[]
  2. 10 programming languages that are in demand by employers. ComputerWorld[]
  3. Tech Salary Guide for 2014. CIO[]
  4. Screenshot source: Thinkful.com; archive.[]
  5. How to Get a Job as a Developer in Less Than Six Months – Learn With Jeff. Learn with Jeff[]
  6. Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings. Georgetown University[]

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