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Learn JavaScript

A Comprehensive Guide to Start Learning JavaScript

JavaScript is a popular programming language used in various fields, including web development and application development. In particular, Developers use this language to add dynamic elements to websites and apps. Because JavaScript is the only scripting language that’s supported by every single browser, it is a prerequisite skill for just about anyone who plans to work with websites. In this overview, you’ll learn more about what JavaScript is, what it can do, who uses it, and how to learn it to determine whether to add this skill to your professional toolbox.

JavaScript is one of the most popular programming languages in the world —and for a good reason! This language enables Web Developers to add interactivity to what would otherwise be static websites.

If you’ve always wanted to learn JavaScript but can’t figure out how to get started, this guide is for you. Here, you’ll learn more about the various ways to learn JavaScript, free resources to take advantage of, and the types of careers that commonly use JavaScript.

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a programming language that was created in 1995 by Brendan Eich. The language was originally intended to be a straightforward scripting language that could speed up input validation on websites. In recent years, JavaScript has exploded in popularity and is used for much, much more. This programming language is most commonly used for web, application, and browser-based game development. It is a foundational skill for anyone who wants to pursue a career in one of those fields.

In particular, JavaScript helps Developers add interactive components to the website, application, or game they’re working on. Part of what makes this language so popular is that it can be used on any browser. JavaScript is also free to use, making it widely accessible to anyone who wants to learn it. Similarly, the many libraries and frameworks that help make JavaScript so versatile, including React, Node.js, and Express, are also open-source.

Read more aboutwhat JavaScript isand why you should learn it.

What Can You Do with JavaScript?

Imagine visiting a website but being unable to interact with anything. Nothing moves or changes color when you hover over it, and as you scroll through the page, everything is just a static image or text. Sounds pretty boring, doesn't it?

Now, think about a website you’ve recently visited. It’s likely that as you scrolled through the page, graphics popped into view with a flourish. You may have noticed an image carousel that automatically shifted from photo to photo, or a button that changed color when you hovered over it. When you wanted to navigate to another page on the website, you clicked a hamburger menu that exposed clickable links to these pages.

All of this is made possible with JavaScript, which adds interactive elements to websites that would otherwise be entirely static. While HTML and CSS, two languages fundamental to web design, are static by design, JavaScript makes websites more responsive and engaging to viewers. This helps ensure visitors spend as much time interacting with a website’s various components as possible.

In addition to web development, individuals also use JavaScript to build mobile and web applications. In fact, popular social media sites rely upon JavaScript and its associated frameworks, like React, to build the user interfaces of their applications. Likewise, Developers use JavaScript to build browser-based games (Bejeweled, anyone?), making this language both a highly useful and enjoyable one to learn.

Careers that Use JavaScript

You might be curious about the different career paths available to those who know JavaScript. While you should take care to research all relevant skills for your desired career path, JavaScript is a valuable skill set for many development careers, especially if you plan to work on the front end. Below are some of the roles in which JavaScript is beneficial:

  • Front End Developer: Individuals in this role are responsible for building the front end, or client side, of a website. This is the part of a website you are most familiar with, as it’s what you interact with whenever you visit a site. In addition to knowing JavaScript, Front End Developers must be proficient in coding with HTML and CSS.
  • Full Stack Developer: This role requires skills in both front end languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and back end languages like Python, Python, and Java. That’s because Full Stack Developers work both client and server-side to build the front end of websites and connect them to back end data.
  • JavaScript Developer: Those who want to become experts in JavaScript might consider a career path as a JavaScript Developer. While a Front End Developer also styles a website with CSS or creates its basic framework with HTML, JavaScript Developers code almost entirely with this programming language to help make a site more interactive.

Individuals in roles like Front End Developer can find jobs in almost any industry since most organizations today rely on websites to communicate with their stakeholders. This includes both private organizations, like businesses, and public organizations, like government agencies and nonprofits. These organizations might choose to keep an in-house Web Developer on staff to build and maintain websites on their behalf or contract the work out with a freelance or agency-based Developer.

Why Learn JavaScript?

Without JavaScript, websites would be static and boring, and visitors would have difficulty staying engaged with their content. As a result, organizations rely upon individuals with JavaScript skills to add dynamic and interactive components to their websites. Learning JavaScript is thus a prerequisite skill for anyone who wants to pursue a career in web development or application development, including roles like Full Stack Web Developer, Front End Web Developer, and Application Developer.

Another benefit of learning JavaScript is that it can expand your coding skills. If you’re already well-versed in coding with HTML and CSS, JavaScript is a great way to gain experience with an actual programming language (as opposed to a style sheet or markup language). After learning JavaScript, you can apply your knowledge to numerous industries that rely upon these front end programming skills. Learning JavaScript is also the first step in using the language’s numerous libraries and frameworks. Knowing how to use these versatile tools can make you more marketable while searching for jobs since they increase the number of ways you can use JavaScript, including using the language server-side (or back end).

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How to Learn JavaScript

Because JavaScript is such a popular and powerful language, there are numerous ways to learn it. Live JavaScript classes follow a specific schedule and allow students to interact directly with instructors and peers as they learn how to code with the language. These classes can take place in either in-person or live online formats and offer a structured curriculum to teach programming skills. Many live courses also offer career support and mentorship services, making them a good option for those looking to change careers.

On-demand or self-paced JavaScript courses provide more flexibility. Individuals can enroll in an asynchronous course and complete coursework as they have time and energy rather than attending classes on any specific schedule. This makes on-demand courses a good option for individuals trying to pick up JavaScript skills on the side as they work a day job or navigate family obligations. That said, students may be unable to ask instructors questions should they need additional guidance.

Noble Desktop also offers free resources and JavaScript tutorials for those who are just starting their learning journey. Noble’s free JavaScript seminar provides an introduction to JavaScript by discussing what you can do with JavaScript, popular JavaScript libraries, and client-side versus server-side JavaScript, among other topics. You may also consider reviewing Noble’s web design and development playlist on YouTube. Finally, if you decide you’re ready to pursue a live online or in-person JavaScript course, Noble Desktop has a “Classes Near Me” tool to help you find the perfect course to meet your needs.

Read the full guide on how to learn JavaScript.

Free Introductory JavaScript Course Online

Not ready to dive into an entire course? Completing a free introductory course or tutorial is a low-stakes option for individuals who aren’t positive they want to commit to a structured class. You can start learning about JavaScript with Noble’s free Intro to JavaScript seminar, which provides an overview of JavaScript and popular JavaScript libraries, the MERN stack (MongoDB, Express, React, and Node.js), and client-side versus server-side JavaScript. You might also consider exploring other popular online resources, like freeCodeCamp, Code Academy, and The Odin Project.

Additionally, YouTube offers a bounty of introductory videos about JavaScript and related skills. This can be a great way to learn more about the different career options available to those who know how to code with JavaScript. Similarly, reading articles and blog posts about the field can help you stay up-to-date with trends without a considerable time commitment. When taking this approach, the main thing to consider is to look for the most recently uploaded or posted content — this helps ensure you’re learning the most up-to-date information about JavaScript.

Of course, learning JavaScript through free intro courses and tutorials is best for individuals who enjoy learning through self-study. It’s a convenient way to pick up some new skills without a huge time or monetary commitment. However, this method of learning isn’t for everyone, and some may prefer a more structured approach, such as that provided by an online course.

Read about more free JavaScript videos and online tutorials.

Level of Difficulty, Prerequisites, & Cost

If you’ve never used a programming language before, you may be intimidated by the idea of learning how to code with JavaScript.Like all programming languages, learning JavaScript requires dedication and focus to learn. That said, anyone who takes the time to gain a foundational understanding of this language can do so. The length of time it will take you to become proficient in JavaScript varies depending on how much time you’re able to spend on learning each week. Still, in general, you should plan to dedicate about six to twelve months to learning this code and its applications.

Before learning JavaScript, you should know how to code with HTML and CSS. Without knowledge of these languages, you will have a difficult time understanding exactly how JavaScript works to manipulate code and add engagement to websites. Additionally, you should have a clear understanding of where you’re planning to apply your JavaScript skills. That’s because you’ll need to learn slightly different tools and skills if you plan to use this language primarily for web development as opposed to application development or game development. Taking the time to get clear on these requirements before you begin your learning journey can help ensure you pick up the necessary skills as efficiently as possible.

Fortunately, JavaScript is open-source, meaning it’s readily accessible from the internet and entirely free to use. All you need to start coding with JavaScript is a text editor or integrated development environment (IDE) that enables you to write code, then apply it to your intended use. Likewise, many of JavaScript’s libraries and frameworks are free, meaning you can readily expand your application of this language to different tasks without incurring additional costs.

Read more about how difficult it is to learn JavaScript.

How Does Learning JavaScript Compare to Other Languages?

You may be curious about how JavaScript compares to other popular programming languages. Many people assume that JavaScript shares similarities with Java; however, these languages share surprisingly little in common aside from their names. JavaScript is a scripting language, whereas Java is a programming script that must be compiled. Additionally, JavaScript is typically used for web and browser-based application development, while Java is used for app development.

Another popular object-oriented, open-source programming language that people may compare with JavaScript is Python. This programming language is famous for software development, web development, and data science. Like JavaScript, Developers can use this language on the front-end. One of Python’s biggest strengths is its ability to work server-side to complete tasks for automation, data analysis, and machine learning. As a result, Developers are much more likely to use Python on the back end than they would be to use JavaScript.

How to Decide the Best Way to Learn JavaScript

Because everyone has unique learning goals, the best way to learn JavaScript will depend on the specific reasons you want to learn JavaScript. The most important thing to do before choosing how to learn JavaScript is to understand why you’re choosing to do so and what you want to use the skill for. You may also consider factors like cost, mentorship opportunities, and format (online versus in-person) as you decide what course is best for you.

If you’re a beginner who wants a high-level overview of the programming language without spending much money, you might consider a free or low-cost introductory course through a site like Udemy or Coursera. Alternatively, you can watch YouTube playlists that teach basic JavaScript programming concepts. Approaching your JavaScript learning this way is a low-stakes way to help you decide if you’d like to dive deeper into the subject matter.

Individuals who decide they want to develop a solid working knowledge of JavaScript, learn a JavaScript-related skill, or grow within their current career might choose to enroll in a more intensive course. This includes bootcamp-style courses, like Noble Desktop’s JavaScript Programming Bootcamp or React Development Bootcamp. Bootcamp courses meet over days, weeks, or months and follow a specific curriculum that helps ensure students gain valuable skills.

Certificate-style programs provide the most intensive and immersive way to learn JavaScript. Many certificate programs offer career support services and 1-on-1 mentorship opportunities in addition to their rigorous coursework. This makes certificate programs an excellent option for individuals who want to master JavaScript for a new career or pivot to a new industry. For example, Noble Desktop has a JavaScript Development Certificate that prepares individuals for careers in application development.

Learn JavaScript with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

Noble Desktop offers hands-on JavaScript training opportunities that meet the needs of various learning styles and scheduling considerations. Each of its courses features small class sizes so that you can receive individualized support from Noble’s expert instructors. This is the case whether you attend a class live online or in person at the school’s Manhattan campus. Noble Desktop also provides a free retake option for anyone who wants to complete the course again within one year of completion.

Its JavaScript Programming Bootcamp provides students with a foundation in using JavaScript. In particular, this course teaches about object-oriented programming, variables, functions, and data types, among many other topics. By the end of the class, students will know how to build web applications using JavaScript and be familiar with its libraries and frameworks. Before enrolling in this class, you should be comfortable coding with HTML and CSS.

Noble’s JavaScript Development Certificate takes JavaScript learning a bit further. In this course, students practice building web applications with JavaScript and learn how to use React, Node.js, Express.js, and MongoDB to expand the versatility of this programming language. Additionally, students have the chance to apply their learning to specific projects and build up a portfolio that can be used when applying to jobs in the field.

You may also consider Noble’s Front End Web Development Certificate. This course teaches JavaScript in addition to HTML, CSS, and WordPress while providing experiential learning opportunities. Certificates at Noble Desktop also offer students individual career mentoring sessions to help them polish their resumes and portfolios, and give them tips on how to stand out in a competitive job market.

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