Is Coding Hard to Learn? (Plus How to Make It Easier!)

Updated on | Sign up for learn to code tips


Programming has a reputation for being a difficult and complicated discipline, but is that really true? Is coding hard?

You might think of the average programmer as being a glasses-wearing genius with a Mensa-worthy IQ, with perfect lines of code flying from their fingers. 🤓 If there’s any truth in that, coding must be difficult, right?

Then on the flip side, you may be hearing all this hype about how quickly you can learn to code and make loads of money, and wonder “Can anyone learn to code, really?”

So what is it? Is coding difficult to learn or easy? How hard is computer programming for the average person?

Opinions on this topic vary! And of course, it also depends on your coding goals and experience.

Tweets saying coding is hard
Tweets saying coding is fun

As with many things, the reality lies somewhere in the middle. Coding is hard and easy depending on the day! There are factors that increase the difficulty, and other tips and tricks that can make it easier.

So, if you’re wondering “Is learning to code hard? Can I learn to code?” — then this post is for you! We’ll look at some of the things that make coding easier to learn, as well as some reasons programming has a tough reputation.

Table of Contents

Disclosure: I’m a proud affiliate for some of the resources mentioned in this article. If you buy a product through my links on this page, I may get a small commission for referring you. Thanks!

Is Coding Easy to Learn? 5 Reasons It’s Easier Than Ever

Let’s start with some of the good news! Is it easy to learn to code? Well, while it may not be the easiest thing you’ve ever done, it is easier to learn programming than it’s ever been before. Here are five reasons why!

1. There are so many resources out there

Seriously—no matter what your learning style, budget, abilities, and preferences are, there’s something out there for you.

For instance, is it hard to learn coding for free? Not in this day and age! Check out these 113+ places to learn to code for free.

Is coding fun? It can be, yes! There are so many resources that gamify the learning process or take unique approaches, like these two:

  • 🥋 Codewars: With a martial-arts theme, the program is based on challenges called “kata.” Complete the coding lessons for beginners to earn honor and progress to higher ranks. 
  • 🐱 JavaScript for Cats: It’s like a book on a single webpage, broken down into sections about learning to code JavaScript…with cats.
Tweet: FreeCodeCamp is fun and easy
@Johncandevelop on Twitter: “O boy! @freeCodeCamp made coding so fun and easy.”

Start coding now

Stop waiting and start learning! Get my 10 tips on teaching yourself how to code.

Don't worry. I'll never, ever spam you! Powered by ConvertKit

2. There are lots of other people learning too 

You probably won’t have the greatest time if you’re just sitting in front of your computer, trying to learn by yourself. But you don’t have to!

There are tons of people out there who are also learning to code, and connecting with them offers benefits like accountability, community, crowd-sourced problem-solving, and more. 

For example, there are groups for women & girls who code, platforms like GitHub where programmers can collaborate, challenges like #100DaysOfCode, and more.

When you have people you can ask for help, friends to encourage you, and internet strangers showing you what’s possible, your chances of success shoot right up. 🚀

Tweet: Understanding code
@notkyogai on Twitter: “Today I had such a feel-good moment. I’ve been self learning Javascript for a few weeks now and I saw somebody post some code on twitter and I genuinely understood the function behind it. It honestly made me so happy to see that all my hard work is actually taking effect!”

3. You usually get instant feedback if you make a mistake

Unlike with learning a human language, for example, your code will often “inform” you if you’ve made an error. E.g. you make a tiny change and your whole page breaks! 😬

Plus, IDEs (software applications that provide comprehensive facilities to computer programmers for software development) often point out common mistakes/wrong spelling/wrong syntax as you’re writing code.

This means you can see what mistakes you’re making as you go, and you can onboard that feedback and correct your code immediately. 💪

4. Motivation 

Whether it’s the lucrative career options or the innovative apps and software you can build once you have tech skills, coding can really pull you in. Especially if you have a specific project in mind! 

Is it easy to learn to code when you have that kind of driving force behind you? It certainly helps! Coding might be one of those passions that completely sucks you in and has you lost for hours trying to learn the next thing.

man on desktop

5. Some languages are pretty easy to learn

When people ask me things like “Can anyone learn to code?” and “Is programming easy?” I generally recommend starting with HTML and CSS. Just about everyone can learn at least basic HTML!

Even if these beginner-friendly languages won’t enable all of the goals you want to accomplish with coding, it at least puts you on the map.

With other programming languages, like Python, the syntax of the code is actually structured pretty intuitively. That means you can pick up on how the language is written pretty quickly!

So—is coding easy? It can be, depending on the languages you learn and how you go about it.

Why Is Coding Hard to Learn? 8 Possible Reasons  

It wouldn’t be accurate to paint the picture that coding is easy, or that you can get to expert level without any bumps in the road. So, how hard is it to learn coding and what are some of the things that make programming hard?

Here are some factors that influence how difficult it is to learn coding.

1. Being a beginner at anything is hard

Children throw themselves into new activities all the time. Painting, dancing, swimming, reading, even walking—nothing fazes them. They try, fail, and try again. It’s their default way of being.

As adults, we’re not generally used to starting completely new things, especially in the context of work. When was the last time you taught yourself a brand new skill? 

Being out of our comfort zones in that way can feel really uncomfortable. Our discomfort can cause us to procrastinate, give up, or maybe never even get started. It can be a huge barrier to learning new skills.

Tweet: Everything is difficult
@sahilkhosla on Twitter: “Marketing is difficult. Designing is difficult. No-code is difficult. Coding is difficult. Selling is difficult. No matter what you try, it’s going to be difficult… AT FIRST. Starting is what makes things easier. What are you waiting for?”

To combat that, try to put yourself back in a mindset of being excited to learn new things about the world and ready to overcome challenges in your way. Embrace your inner child!

2. It might be completely different from anything you’ve done before

Coding is a truly unique skill with many different aspects to it. You don’t just have to learn a programming language (the actual syntax and grammar of it) — you have to learn how to think like a programmer. Is programming hard? You could say so; it’s basically solving problems all day!

And no one can really “teach” you how to solve problems. You have to venture out on your own and practice, learn, fail, and try again.

Tweet: Get comfortable feeling dumb
@ValentineOrga on Twitter: “Get comfortable being dumb while learning how to code. It might take you days to figure out something so simple. You might feel like the world’s greatest idiot but eventually, if you take the right processes, you’ll get it👍 Btw, This is for me. DEFI is hard😰”

3. It can involve math

Lots of people have a complicated relationship with math. Maybe you had bad experiences in school that left you with a mental block about being “bad at math.” Or you just find it hard/unpleasant. 

In a 2015 advice column, I answered someone who wrote in asking if being good at math is necessary to learn programming. Here’s a snippet:

“Programming is about problem solving and logic. Math is, too. There are definitely similarities between the two. Being good at math doesn’t hurt…but if a person isn’t good at math, it doesn’t mean they can’t become a programmer.”

Man doing math

Also check out this more recent article: Can I Become a Data Scientist Without a Background In Math?

4. Imposter syndrome can get the best of you 

The hardest thing about programming might not even be about programming. To a certain degree, learning to code is a psychological game. You might talk yourself into a self-defeating attitude, telling yourself you’re not smart enough and will never “get” it. (That’s not true, by the way!)

This type of self-doubt is actually far from uncommon. Listen to this podcast episode with Rebecca Lima, where we talk about overcoming imposter syndrome. 

5. It takes persistence and consistency to develop the skill

Learning to code isn’t something you can do in a few hours or even a few weeks. It takes consistency and practice. To get good at coding, you have to stick with it even when the shine wears off and you don’t feel like it.

Tweet: Consistency is hard
@iamthebuilder__ on Twitter: “Learning to code is easy. What is hard is trying to be great at it without consistent practice.”

Being disciplined about coding is hard, especially if you have other things going on in your life. It can be hard to find time to study and even when you do have time, you might be tired or want to do something easy and relaxing instead!

This is another aspect of learning to code that’s kind of a mental game.

Tweet: Sitting down to code is hard
@khushalchugh on Twitter: “It’s not the coding part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to code.”

6. Some programming languages are more complex

Here’s the flip side of what we talked about in the “easy” list. How difficult is coding HTML? Not very. But how hard is coding trickier languages like C++ that have more complex syntax? It absolutely takes longer to get the hang of!

Reddit comment: Starting to learn to code is hard
Reddit comment: “The beginning, when it comes to any programming language, is the worst: you don’t know the basics yet, you can’t make anything fun with it, you just have to grind until you start to understand.”

There’s nothing to say that you ever have to learn any of the hardest programming languages, though. It really depends on what you want to do with your skills. You may be able to learn one or two of the simpler languages and call it a day.

7. You might have a busy life

When you’re younger, learning is your whole job. You’re able to dedicate a lot more time and energy to it because you have few other responsibilities to compete with your studies. But when you’re learning to code as an adult, life has a way of getting in the way!

Few people know this more than podcast guest Josh Kemp. He was juggling a full-time job, his marriage and kids, and a broken hand while he was learning to code. But he set a goal of a tech job within one year, carved out three hours a day to learn (often from 10pm-1am or later), and made it happen.

8. You may be deterred by common misconceptions

Finally, let’s tackle some of the common mistakes and misconceptions that may lead you down the wrong path as you begin your journey in tech. Coding is hard, but you don’t need to make it harder than it is!

Let’s look at a few of these (and why you don’t have to worry about them). ⬇️

Thinking you need to memorize everything

Seriously, programming isn’t like studying for a test. If anything, it’s an open-book test where you’re allowed to use Google to your heart’s content!

Tweet: Code with Google
@SabitOlolade1 on Twitter: “If you’re learning to code, Google is your friend.”

Thinking your code needs to be perfect

If you’re a perfectionist, you’ll probably make coding more difficult for yourself than it has to be. Even senior devs make errors/bugs!

Instead of demanding perfection from your code right away, learn how to debug and be persistent.

Tweet: Code perfection
@WellPaidGeek on Twitter: “If you’re learning to code and doubt yourself, please know it took me 1 hour to solve a bug that was down to one minor typo. Give yourself more credit!”

Believing you’re the wrong kind of person

Tech is a field that welcomes people from just about any background. Seriously, just listen to the stories of these past podcast guests:

Tweet: Treat coding as easy
@Juriolli_ on Twitter: “I feel like coding should be treated as a easy-going skill, and not an obscure thing learnt by gifted people. Coding makes things clean and easy.”

Yes, Coding Is Hard Sometimes (But That’s a Good Thing!)

Instead of letting the difficulties of coding discourage you, look at the hidden bright side! If it were easy, everyone would do it, tech skills wouldn’t be as in demand, and the jobs wouldn’t be as lucrative.

More than that, it’s hard to beat the feeling when you finally solve a problem, find a bug, or do something you didn’t think you could do:

Tweet: coding assignment
@supersurewella on Twitter: “Y’all I figured out a difficult coding assignment and I felt like I was high- HIGH ON LEARNING!!!!”

Start coding now

Stop waiting and start learning! Get my 10 tips on teaching yourself how to code.

Don't worry. I'll never, ever spam you! Powered by ConvertKit

How to Make Coding Fun: 9 Tips

Is code hard to learn? Yes! Is coding fun? Also yes! You just have to learn in a way that makes it enjoyable and interesting for you.

Here’s how to make coding fun!

👨‍🏫 1. Learn in a way that suits your learning style

Learning success is not one-size-fits-all. Luckily, with coding resources, you’re spoiled for choice! You can learn to code via video tutorials, interactive tutorials, textbooks, YouTube vids, in-person classes, bootcamps, online degrees, etc. 

👪 2. Have a strong why / reason to learn. 

Use this to motivate you when it starts to get challenging. For example, Michael Pimentel transitioned from a low-paying glassblowing job to coding to support his wife and child in a high cost of living state.

🔤 3. Learn the fundamentals

When you’re learning any new skill, it makes sense to start with the right foundation and build from there. Consider dedicating some time to learning computer science fundamentals before (or during) your coding training.

Tweet: learn fundamentals
@muthuannamalai_ on Twitter: “Learning to code is easy. If you get the basics down then learn objects and functions.”

💻 4. Find what you enjoy / follow your curiosity

Choose a programming language based on where you want your tech skills to take you, what you’re interested in, or what kind of job you eventually want. Basically reverse-engineer your dream job. Nothing’s more fun than chasing your dreams!

❤️ 5. Build projects you’re passionate about.

You can combine passions while building side projects. For example, if you love knitting or playing soccer or anything else, you could build an app related to that hobby/passion. Or if there’s a problem in your life you’re trying to solve, try to build an app/website/calculator/tool that helps fix it. 

For instance:

  • Passion for cycling + data skills = build a searchable database of cycling routes in your country
  • Interest in fashion + web/UX/UI design = redesign your favorite brands’ websites

Masha Zvereva did this, combining her passions for people, technology, and content creation all in one.

Tweet: coding projects
@eminaergul on Twitter: “Best part of learning to code is when you drop the tutorials and start building something you’ve wanted to build, forcing yourself to google every problem you come across, having fun with it, and realizing you’re learning more than you did from the tutorial ¯\_(ツ)_/¯”

🤝 6. Make friends and join communities

Being active in your local tech community is one of the best ways to access new opportunities and make friends. Surrounding yourself with enthusiastic, friendly people is a sure-fire way to make anything more fun.

tech community

💬 7. Add comments to your code

Did you know that you can add notes right into your code, so it’s easier to read/remember what each bit does when you look back?

E.g. in CSS, put text inside /* */ marks. This tells the browser that they are notes and should not be rendered on the front end.

Example:

p {
   color: red; /* set the text color to red */
}

👩‍🏫 8. Get a mentor

Mentorship has played a huge role in Camille’s career. With the help of her mentors, she became a robotics engineer. Here are some tips for finding a coding mentor of your own.

🛑 9. If something’s not working for you, change it up 

It’s normal to have hard days that you just have to muscle through. But if you’re at a point where every day is grueling and you aren’t having fun anymore, that’s probably a sign you need to pivot in a different direction.

The first coding language or tech skill you learn doesn’t have to be the one you make a career out of!

Is Coding Hard to Learn? FAQs

Let’s wrap up with some frequently asked questions and answers about coding being hard!

Why is coding so hard for me?

Coding is like learning a new language and learning a new way of thinking. It’s a skill most of us haven’t used, so it’s a little like retraining your brain.

You only really learn by doing, but the doing part is difficult. It involves trial and error, frustration, learning new ways to solve problems, working through errors, and practice. All of that can be hard, but it gets easier the more you code.

Tweet: Learn to code cycle
@dev__brad on Twitter: “Learning to code isn’t easy, it’s a constant cycle of: ➡️ I can’t build this! Followed by ➡️ oh, I can build this! Every developer experiences this, keep going 🔥 #100devs”

How hard is it to teach yourself to code?

It depends on your ideal learning style and how dedicated you are. If you’re better at independent study and enjoy it, it won’t be as hard as if you really learn better with a mentor/in-person teacher. Bootcamps are also an option if you don’t want to teach yourself.

coding bootcamp

Does everyone struggle when they start coding?

It’s completely normal to struggle. All coders struggle at some point (even if they’ve been coding for years).

Tweet: struggling with code
Reddit comment: “Yes, it’s normal to struggle for a long time. First year of programming was hard for me. First student developer job was hard for me. My current job is hard.”

What’s the hardest thing about programming?

Learning the grammar and syntax of a programming language is often the easiest part of learning to code.

The hardest part is when you have to use that language to solve problems. Or understanding what the code does and why it does what it does in a certain way. Solving problems requires you to learn a different way of thinking: abstract thinking or thinking in algorithms, which takes a lot of practice.

Tweet: Coding is hard but worth it
@SanbajAnsari01 on Twitter: “Before I started learning to code, I used to think coding is hard. Now, I know coding is hard. But the burst of dopamine that I get after resolving all bugs, makes it all worth it.”

Can anyone learn to code?

Yes! Anyone with enough dedication and motivation can certainly learn to code. It takes time and effort and a new way of thinking (especially if you’re brand new to coding), but anyone can learn it. 

Is coding like learning a language?

It can be similar in a lot of ways. You’re learning new grammar/syntax and you have to write and understand it. You’re basically learning the language of computers. Coding is really all about solving complex problems with a language computers can understand.

That said, it has its differences too.

tweet-12
@GrumpyShtroumpf on Twitter: “I’m enjoying learning to code but it’s surprisingly different from learning a human language. No grammar book. You’re expected to self-teach most of it, but how? When you don’t know the words or the logic? And you need to get every detail perfect down to the semi colon.”

Is coding fun?

Even though coding can be difficult, it can also be fun! You can build pretty much whatever you want, work on projects that truly interest you and merge your passions, it’s super rewarding, and can involve a lot of creativity. As we outlined above, there are plenty of things you can do to make it more fun for yourself as well.

Coding is hard! But that’s one of the things that make it worth doing. If you love solving problems, odds are you’ll love coding.

tweet-13
@sumitsaurabh927 on Twitter: “Will learning how to code be easy? No. Will it be worth it? You bet!”

Are you sold on learning to code? If so, the first step is deciding what exactly to learn!

Check out our guides to in-demand tech skills, programming languages, and different fields within tech to see what feels right for you.