How Long Does It Take To Become A Computer Programmer?

The simple answer? 

As few as six months of individualized, self-paced learning, or as many as four or more years in an accredited Bachelor’s program.

The more complicated answer?

It depends on you, your learning method, and your motivational support systems.

You have what it takes to become a computer programmer. You’ve already taken your first step in coding for beginners just by reading this article. Keep reading to learn about some of the common factors that can impact how long it will take you to become a programmer. 

#1 What Kind of Programmer Do You Want To Be?

Computer programming is a way of telling a computer what to do using instructions—known as code—to complete a task. 

Let’s break down how you might utilize those skills in a computer programming job: 

  • Front-end development – Think of front-end developers as hostesses or waiters at a restaurant. As a customer, this is who you interact with and who dictates the quality of your experience. Front-end programming accounts for everything web users visually see—the graphics, the user interface, and how they navigate the site.
  • Back-end development – These are the chefs in the kitchen. You don’t see them, but they’re working hard to prepare you a tasty meal, delivered to you by the waitstaff. Back-end developers write the code that powers the front-end, including the informational databases and servers.

  • Both job types require a full understanding of coding and software, but they typically rely on different primary coding languages, which take more or less time to learn. Front-end developers also require a more intuitive, creative eye.

    #2 What Qualifications Does The Role Require?

    The neat thing about computer programming is that many positions only require that you prove your coding proficiency. Stack Overflow concluded that nearly 70% of developers claim to have at least partially taught themselves to code and 13% said that had been their only form of education. 

    Each individual job’s requirements will undoubtedly impact how long it takes you to obtain the programming job you want. So what are some common qualifications you may or may not need to secure a computer programming position?

    Bachelor’s Degree

    Some—not all—jobs will require, or at least “prefer,” a Bachelor’s degree. These programs take an average of four years to finish. 

    Programmers typically receive degrees in:

    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Information Technology

    However, many students graduate with entirely different majors and find their way to programming later in life. University programs are useful, but they also overload you with many extraneous classes and projects.


    Your portfolio is especially important when you haven’t received a formal education in computer programming. This is your chance to prove that you can still problem solve and code. 

    No matter how you learned, you can work on independent projects before landing an in office position or remote tech job, such as:

  • Design your own websites – The best way to learn is by doing. All you need is an idea, a working computer, internet access, and the drive to succeed. Whenever you get stuck, tons of online resources and programs can help address your specific concerns. 
  • Copy existing code – This may seem like plagiarism, but as long as you are forthright about what you borrowed from existing sites and what you adapted and altered, you’re in the clear. Many beginner programmers learn by seeing what others have done. You can make a similar project with your own spin on it (as long as you give credit where credit is due).
  • Work on Open Source projects – By collaborating with others, you’ll learn from the more experienced programmers on your team. You’ll have played a part in creating the final product without the pressure of doing it on your own.

  • These freelance projects are perfect for coding for beginners because they have no timeline. You can fit them into your schedule in conjunction with your other responsibilities as you plan your coding career path.

    Relevant Experience

    The age-old catch-22: you can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job. 

    Luckily, computer programming is an extremely democratic profession. Similar to learning how to become a web developer, you do not necessarily need an undergraduate degree-- you just need to be able to prove your coding skills and knowledge of computer systems. Hiring departments tend to focus on a candidate’s knowledge and demonstrable skills—which you can teach yourself—rather than on formal education and prestigious job titles.

    When recruiters don’t see a degree listed on your resume, they’ll look instead at experience. But this experience doesn’t need to be a high-level position at a top-tier tech firm. 

    Many people who go through coding boot camps or online educational programs can secure a Junior Developer position within six months

    #3 What Skills Do You Need?

    With programming, knowledge is everything. Rest assured: there are endless ways to achieve this. 

    Yes, the traditional way has typically been a college or university program. But four-year degree programs require about 120 credits, or 40 classes, to graduate. Only a fraction of the degree requirements teach computer programming.

    Self-taught learning tools cut out the frills and bureaucracy. If all you want is specific computer programming skills, there are cheaper, easier, and faster ways.

    So what are some of those skills?

    Different Coding Languages

    No one expects you to know every coding language. Not only is it close to impossible, but it’s also highly unnecessary. 

    Depending on what kind of computer programmer you want to be, you’ll need an understanding of different primary languages. 

    For front-end (“waitress”) developers, you may want to focus on programming languages that cater to the design, layout, and navigational aspects including but not limited to:

  • HTML – HyperText Markup Language creates the visual interface of web pages. It is more accurately a combination of two languages, hypertext and markup. Hypertext connects the various pages of a website to each other. Think of the way a hyperlink in an article takes you to a different page. Markup is for writing the webpage code itself, including the text and structure.
  • CSS – Cascading Style Sheets is used to shape an existing web page, increasing its aesthetic and presentation value. 
  • JavaScript – This language is an absolute necessity for any front-end programmer. It allows users to effectively interact with the site by navigating seamlessly between pages and utilizing the software functions.
  • Processing – Processing represents the visually stunning aspect of a web-based application or web site. This language is instrumental to the creative and artistic components.

    With the right work ethic and learning tools, you could learn each of these languages in the span of a few months. 

    Most back-end (“chef”) developers also have a grasp on front-end programming tools, but they have their own specific languages as well including, but not limited to the following:

  • PHP – Hypertext Preprocessor (originally Personal Home Pages, hence the acronym) is known as a server-side language. It is a specific web development script that is relatively exclusive for back-end programming.
  • C++ – This is one of the most widespread and generalized coding languages. It is commonly used as a back-end script but has many other functions.
  • JavaScript – In addition to front-end development, this language is used frequently in back-end development as well because of its role in practical navigation and software functionality.

  • You don’t need to master all of these languages to be a successful computer programmer. It’s much more beneficial to focus on two or three specific programming languages that you can dig into, rather than have a minimal understanding of all of them.


    Computer programming requires a general understanding of how databases operate—these collections of information store data collected by the website. 

    In addition to knowing how they work, you should be able to:

    • Create and insert entries
    • Update, edit, or delete records
    • Organize the database for optimal use in a project

    Foundational Mathematics Skills

    At its core, programming is a form of math. The code (the equation) reads the inputted information (the variable substitutions) and performs a function based on the outcome (the answer). 

    Basic math is used in nearly every program. Whether it’s simple addition and subtraction or the more complex creation of algorithms, you’ll need to apply logistic and mathematical principles. 

    #4 What’s Your Learning Style?

    This may be the most critical factor in answering the question, how long does it take to become a computer programmer?

    If you work best in a university classroom’s highly structured environment, you’ll likely spend at least four years completing classwork and another six months or so securing a job. 

    However, other options will significantly decrease the time it takes for you to reach your programming goals:

  • Bootcamps – These short sessions, typically a few months or even weeks, are jam-packed with basic computer programming skills. They can be somewhat limited in scope, but will still provide a foundation of solid information.
  • Online programs & learning tools – These are similar in that you learn the specific skills and concepts required of programmers and developers, but their self-paced nature means you dictate your schedule and completion timeline. 

  • How Can Disney Codeillusion Help?

    No waiting around for some far off (and expensive) bootcamp start-date. No year-long university application process only to wait another six months for Fall enrolment. Advance your coding skills and programming skills at a pace and timeline that work for you. 

    If you want to begin your journey towards a computer programming career, you can start whenever is best for you with Disney Codeillusion. 

  • Self-paced curriculum – Learn and practice in the immersive world of Disney—on your own time. You set the pace, you carve your path, you reap the benefits. 
  • The right information – Disney Codeillusion lessons cover four of the most important coding languages for computer programming: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Processing. Explore the magic of Web Design specifically, along with Game Development and Media Art.
  • Engaging educational experience – Disney Codeillusion creates an adventure-like role-playing experience, blending fun and excitement into your learning. The more you enjoy something, the more likely you are to finish it—and fast.

  • Becoming a computer programmer takes time, but it shouldn’t take forever.

    Don’t delay, start today!


    Career Karma. How Long Does it Take to Learn Coding?

    UserSnap. Is a college education necessary to become a great web developer?

    GeeksforGeeks. Frontend vs Backend.

    Stack Overflow. Developer Survey Results 2016.