How Long Does it Take to Learn Computer Science?

Want to begin a career in computer science but not sure how long it will take to learn the essentials? It generally takes between six months to a few years to master computer science, depending on your current skill set, intended application of the training and personal factors like availability and budget.

Key Insights

  • Computer science is a broad field that includes information systems, computation, and automation, and mastering it can take from six months to several years.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 21% growth rate in computer science jobs from 2021 to 2031, significantly above the average growth rate of five percent.
  • Top positions in computer science include Software Developers, IT Security Analysts, Data Scientists, and Product Managers.
  • Training for different roles in computer science, such as a Software Engineer or a Web Developer, requires different timeframes and involves different challenges.
  • Noble Desktop offers comprehensive computer science training through in-person or live online courses such as the Full Stack Web Development Certificate and the Software Engineering Certificate programs.
  • Salaries for computer science positions can vary greatly depending on the role, with software developers and data scientists often earning higher incomes.

Like many aspiring tech professionals, you might want to learn computer science but worry that it will take too much time. Computer science is a broad, complex field. While experts agree it can take a few months to a few years to master your computer science position, most beginners can pick up essential fundamentals in six months or less.

Of course, this depends on several factors. Keep reading to learn about how you can learn computer science and some resources to help speed the process along.

What is Computer Science?

Computer science is an immense field that encompasses the study of information systems, computation, and automation. Hardware and software design, machine learning algorithms, and data visualization fall under the computer science purview.

On the theoretical side, computer science includes information theory, algorithms, and computational theory. The practical side of computer science covers hardware and software design and implementation. While data science has emerged as a discrete discipline in recent years, many computer science pros still consider it a subcategory of the larger computer science field. 

Read more about what computer science is and why you should learn it.

What Can You Do with Computer Science?

Software Engineering Certificate: Live & Hands-on, In NYC or Online, 0% Financing, 1-on-1 Mentoring, Free Retake, Job Prep. Named a Top Bootcamp by Forbes, Fortune, & Time Out. Noble Desktop. Learn More.

Computer science classes cover a wide range of subjects, encompassing anything from web development and software engineering to data science. Tools like Python and Java are popular among numerous career paths in this growing field, and as far as computer science applications go, the sky’s the limit.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Computer and Information Research Scientist job outlook is especially bright: they estimate a 21% growth rate between 2021-2031, well above the average growth rate of five percent. Top positions for computer science professionals include Software Developers, IT Security Analysts, Data Scientists, and Product Managers.

Areas of specialization for computer science professionals include programming languages like Java, the development and application of robotics, and the development of new systems, tools, and programming languages. In our ever-more connected digital world, computer science generalists and specialists can thrive both now and in the future.

Average Time it Takes to Learn Computer Science

Since computer science is a broad field encompassing disciplines like web development and data science, the time it takes to learn it depends on multiple factors. These include your current skill set, how you plan to use the training you get, and personal factors like availability and budget.

While there’s considerable debate about how long it takes to learn computer science, estimates range from around six months to several years. Many students learn computer science fundamentals in under a year through immersive bootcamps or certificate programs. You won’t become an expert in a few months, but acquiring the basics this way can lead to entry-level employment.

Other Factors

If you want to launch a computer science career, the time it takes will be influenced heavily by your prior experience with relevant tools and skills. Training for a Software Engineer role will differ from training for a Web Developer position. Training to be a Data Scientist differs from these careers, too.

Consider some of the following factors when determining your timetable for learning computer science:

Time Constraints

An often-overlooked factor in planning a computer science education, your bandwidth for training will depend on your work and family situation. Time is at a premium for those who add a computer science course to a full-time work schedule.

If you enroll in an immersive bootcamp or certificate, you’ll need to factor in your current commitments. Can you handle a full-time workload, or will you need to take the course part-time over several months? Keep these considerations foremost in your mind as you select your training.

Consider examples like Noble Desktop’s Full Stack Web Development Certificate and JavaScript Development Certificate programs. These in-depth programs run for 14 to 17 weeks full-time or seven to ten months part-time. If you are available full-time, you can complete the work much faster. Certificate participants working full-time, though, will almost certainly need to attend such a program part-time.

Learning Style

There are three distinct learning styles: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. Your preferred style can influence what type of computer science course you choose and how long it will take you to master the materials.

If you’re mainly an auditory learner, you might benefit from video tutorials or seminars, although you can learn just as well in an in-person or live online setting. Unless you’re viewing a slide deck with no audio, almost any version of training that includes audio will benefit you.

Visual learners typically do well with video seminars and in-person or virtual training. An additional advantage for visual learners is the benefit they can get from reading online articles or blog posts about computer science.

Because kinesthetic or tactile learners benefit most from learning by doing, they often skip articles or video training. Video tutorials or classroom instruction with hands-on exercises can aid kinesthetic learners with their computer science training.

Ultimate Goal

Above other considerations, your ultimate goal in training for computer science will most likely affect how long it takes to learn. If you’re a novice, it might take longer for you to master certain fundamentals. On the other hand, any experience you have with programming languages can help you learn faster.

Computer science changes constantly, and yesterday’s requirements may be obsolete tomorrow. Consider this an advantage if you’re new to computer science. Whether you train now for an entry-level programming position or plan to become a Full Stack Web Developer, you’ll always be learning in this fast-paced, in-demand field.

Level of Difficulty, Prerequisites, & Cost 

Any challenges associated with learning computer science depend on the requirements for a particular position. While Web Developers may need to master JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, Software Engineers may need Django, React, and MongoDB expertise. It all depends on the sector and the company’s specific requirements.

Costs also vary. Some entry-level computer science positions require a degree, but a bootcamp or certificate program can prepare students for many other entry-level roles.

Programming languages like Python and JavaScript are freely available, and their libraries and frameworks are also free. Many students begin learning computer science by watching online tutorials or seminars, but most realize the need for formal training in the classroom.

Read on to learn more about how difficult it is to learn computer science.

Watch a Free Computer Science Online Course

Are you considering a career in computer science but not ready to dive into a full-length course? If you’re looking for a simple computer science overview or cannot commit to a full-length bootcamp or certificate program, check out the many online resources you can use to start learning computer science for free.

Say you want to study to be a JavaScript Developer or Full Stack Developer. Consider beginning with the Intro to Full Stack JavaScript seminar on Noble Desktop’s YouTube Channel. In this free introductory course, you’ll learn about topics like React and the JavaScript MERN stack development, among others.

Want to learn data science as part of a broader computer science curriculum? Your education can begin with Noble’s data science video tutorials. These include Get Started in Data Science, Intro to Python Fundamentals, and Exchanging Excel for Python.

Additional free online courses include:

  • Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) from the University of Michigan
  • Google’s IT Support Professional Certificate program
  • Neural Networks and Deep Learning from DeepLearning.AI
  • HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for Web Developers from Johns Hopkins University
  • The Java Programming and Software Engineering Fundamentals Specialization program from Duke University.

Read about more free computer science videos and online tutorials.

Learn Computer Science with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

If you want comprehensive computer science training in an interactive environment, check out the Full Stack Web Development Certificate from Noble Desktop. This in-depth program gives participants all the tools they need to build webpages and apps, plus training in hosting, server, and network environments. Featured topics include HTML/CSS, JavaScript, and MongoDB, to name a few.

Is software engineering your main goal? Consider enrolling in Noble’s Software Engineering Certificate program. Here you’ll learn front end development with JavaScript and React along with back end development using Django (Python), all taught by instructors with expertise in the field. Small class sizes and 1-on-1 mentoring mean you always get individual attention and gain essential skills in Flexbox, Grid, and Bootstrap.

If you focus your computer science training on the subcategory of data science, Noble Desktop’s Data Science Certificate gives you the skills you need for an entry-level position. This immersive program provides training in essential tools from Python programming to machine learning fundamentals. It’s a great way to prepare to work as a Data Scientist, Data Analyst, or Machine Learning Engineer.

High school students preparing for the AP Computer Science exam can benefit from Noble’s live online computer science NextGen Bootcamps. These summer classes offer an ideal way to learn disciplines like web development, Python programming, or data science in a beginner-friendly environment.

Key Insights

  • Computer science involves the study of information systems, computation, and automation.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 21% growth rate for computer science over the next decade. Top computer science positions include: Software Development Engineer, Data Scientist, Web Developer, and Product Manager.
  • Computer science roles can take months or even years to master. However, the barrier is much lower for some entry-level positions.
  • Consider multiple factors when deciding on a computer science training program, including:
    • Your current skill set
    • How you’ll use your training
    • Time constraints
    • Your learning style
    • Your goals
  • You can receive comprehensive computer science training through an in-person or live online course with Noble Desktop.

How to Learn Computer Science

Master computer science with hands-on training. Learning how to code in JavaScript, Python, and other popular languages can pave the way to a job in tech, such as web development, data science & analytics, or software engineering.

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