Ready to learn how to code? In our FreeCodeCamp review, we will tell you everything you need to know about this platform. Hopefully, it will help you learn all the software development and programming language skills you need to become a master coder.
FreeCodeCamp is everything that the name implies – and a little bit more. The platform is a completely free online learning platform aimed at giving students the technical knowledge needed for a career in coding.
What is FreeCodeCamp?
FreeCodeCamp is a nonprofit company founded in 2014 by Quincy Larson, with ost of hte site serving as an open source for the developers out there. Since the company’s founding, it has grown to service millions of people in their pursuit of careers in technology.
FreeCodeCamp is not a coding boot camp like so many other platforms out there are. The platform isn’t designed to be a crash course just to land a job, the platform focuses more on comprehension than the raw quantity of information.
We will take a deeper dive into everything that the platform offers here in our review of FreeCodeCamp.
Who is FreeCodeCamp for?
Something FreeCodeCamp does well is marketing itself to just about every type of student. So really you could say that FreeCodeCamp is designed for anyone that wants to be a coder. Whether that be in a professional developer job or just as a hobby.
The platform offers a lot of variety in just about every aspect, such as the programming language of choice and what you intend to do with it. You could be looking to improve your skills as a web developer or begin your career in software development where you help engineer the latest apps.
People who would not like FreeCodeCamp are those that prefer a great deal of structure and individual instruction. While they have designated course material meant to be completed in a certain order, there is no instruction from teachers.
How does FreeCodeCamp work?
In a nutshell, FreeCodeCamp teaches students coding skills through a series of projects and coding challenges. These end with them receiving a FreeCodeCamp certification. Getting started with FreeCodeCamp is very simple, and of course free. You simply register an account and begin with a curriculum that fits your interests.
The projects you build will serve to bolster your portfolio if you wish to pursue a career, and at the end of many of the courses, you have the opportunity to gain experience working for a non-profit of your choice.
While there are no guarantees like some paid coding boot camps, FreeCodeCamp provides a programming education to thousands of students each year that end up landing real paying jobs.
Features and Functionality
Here are some of the top features of FreeCodeCamp that you will need to consider in your search for the ideal online learning platform for coding.
One of the best features of FreeCodeCamp is its projects. These projects offer students the opportunity to get as near to real-world experience as possible without throwing them too far off the scope or trajectory of the current lesson.
Students are also encouraged to go further than the actual project demands to learn as much as possible from each assignment. For instance, there was a time when their web development course’s first project was to design a weather app webpage.
Since every student of these courses is going to get the same project it is also beneficial to the student for use in their portfolio to customize. To stand out amongst the crowd they must learn skills and think of features that are not simply in the course text.
These projects are a vital learning experience with no handholding. Students must do their own debugging to solve their problems.
The platform has an expansive catalog of courses to choose from, we will list them here but to get a detailed view it is best to go to their site.
- Responsive Web Design Certification
- Front End Development Libraries Certification
- Data Visualization Certification
- APIs And Microservices Certification
- Quality Assurance Certification
- Scientific Computing With Python Certification
- Data Analysis with Python Certification
- Information Security Certification
- Machine Learning With Python Certification
Each of these courses is 300 hours of learning. That doesn’t mean you will be a master in these subjects after that amount of time, but it does mean you will have a solid foundation to continue learning the trade on your own. As well as several projects to prove your knowledge.
FreeCodeCamp also offers thousands of hours of coding challenges. These are intended to be used for interview prep. But they can also solidify your understanding of topics that you aren’t quite as confident in.
Forums and Community Support
The support you receive is mostly going to be coming from the FreeCodeCamp community. And it is one of the best and most welcoming communities on the internet. If you need help with an exercise from the course this is the first place you should look.
Because some of their courses have been around for a while (updated of course) there are a lot of students that have seen the problems and answers before. While it is mostly frowned upon to just give people the answers they will steer you in the correct direction.
Their Slack community or the forum are both excellent places to ask for help.
Not only that but they have sections for project feedback, so you can see what you did that was either good or bad practice. Since so many of FreeCodeCamp’s students have landed developer jobs many times you’ll be getting feedback from people in the industry.
FreeCodeCamp Pricing Model
Understanding the price on FreeCodeCamp is the easiest part of getting to know this platform: everything they offer is completely free of charge. They are a non-profit and every penny they receive goes right back into the platform and pays their employees.
We would be remiss if we did not say that FreeCodeCamp accepts donations to keep the platform going, either monthly or one-off donations. In addition, they also set up their students with projects for other non-profits to gain experience.
Another way to support the platform is through merchandise. Just like students who go to traditional college and learn to code at school, you can support your choice of an educational institution with clothing and things of the like.
Support is something that platform does both really well and not so well at the same time. The community is amazing and just about everything you might need to know has probably already been asked on their forums.
However, there is no direct contact with instructors like so many other platforms have. This is mostly fine because of the way their platform is designed to teach, but for those that need that one-on-one contact, it is going to be a major drawback.
The Advantages (Pros) of FreeCodeCamp
Here are some of the biggest advantages of using FreeCodeCamp to advance your career.
Easily the best thing about FreeCodeCamp is right there in the name. It costs absolutely nothing to access this educational content. Most platforms charge a lot of money for the same kind of content quality that FreeCodeCamp provides for nothing.
In addition to it being free students also end up helping non-profits at the end of their courses should they choose to do so. FreeCodeCamp will pair you up with non-profits that need projects done in similar fields to what you have studied.
This gives students real-world experience and the opportunity to work in teams. As most of the time, you are paired with another student to get his work done.
The FreeCodeCamp community is incredible, so much so that many of their students stay active far after they graduate from their respective courses. If there is anything you have questions about on course material or a problem you can’t solve, it is likely already posted here.
If by some off chance you are the first student to encounter your dilemma you’ll find that you get responses extremely quick. If you utilize their Slack channel then most times you get some guidance instantly.
There are also guides you can follow, many of them have been made by users to bolster the FreeCodeCamp curriculum. This can help get a different point of view from those that have already taken the course, or a place for you to share what you have learned with others.
Here is also where you are going to find career support. While FreeCodeCamp does not guarantee a job like other platforms, it has been very successful in placing students in some very good roles at big companies. You can receive advice from those that have come before you and have had success.
Even though everything they offer costs their students nothing FreeCodeCamp has exemplary quality in their courses. They are written to allow anyone to learn without having any prior knowledge of the subject.
Probably the biggest plus is their usage of a built-in code editor. This allows them to show helpful hints and pinpoint exactly where the mistakes are without having to go through normal debugging channels. It also lessens setup time for those that have never used an editor before.
Something that gets overlooked is the way they go about teaching their courses. They are so well thought out in the order of their topics, something that a lot of learning platforms neglect in their classes.
Outside of the courses their coding challenges, or algorithms, are top-notch practice. You can learn a language in and out just by using these.
Lastly, on the topic of quality, FreeCodeCamp has done an excellent job in growing their site to accommodate people that have interests in a wide array of tech fields. There was a time when the only courses they supported were for web development and design.
The Disadvantages (Cons) of FreeCodeCamp
Here are some disadvantages of the platform.
Lack of Teachers
Not having teachers is a double-edged sword in the world of online learning. On the one hand, it is less costly for the platform and more focus can be put into the education itself rather than on staffing. On the other hand, it is supremely beneficial for students to have a set person to go to when they have questions on a course.
The lack of an instructor also means there are no videos on their platform. So no visual aids or step-by-step instructions on topics that could use it. Complex data structures specifically are a very good thing to have a visual aid on.
Teachers also provide students with accountability. The biggest failing point on platforms like these is that students begin courses and never finish them, especially when they are free and it costs nothing to quit. Having someone that you are accountable to can keep this from happening.
No Career Support
Another area FreeCodeCamp could improve on is their career support. While they do a great job of preparing you to get a job in the industry they don’t help much with the actual process. You’ll have a good portfolio and some experience but nothing else.
A good place for them to start would be partnerships with companies. FreeCodeCamp does have relationships with other non-profit organizations that their students can help, but it would help them to partner with companies like Google for internships and the like.
Something else you won’t find on the platform for careers is mentors. A lot of boot camps out there are offering mentors to help the job search. Even if you had to pay for this portion of the process it likely would benefit the platform as a whole.
The Odin Project is probably the platform that is most similar to FreeCodeCamp because they offer their courses completely free of charge as well. However, they do offer different courses to achieve the same goal, and they have less variety in their courses.
Both of these courses require that you take their foundational course first so that you have all of the information needed to understand the more advanced courses. The Odin Project is completely open-source and the site says it will take around 1000 hours to achieve your goals of being a web developer.
Udacity is one of the best online learning platforms out there for all-around use. They have topics on just about everything in the world of technology. While some of their classes are completely free most of them are paid.
Some of the courses offered here are called “nano degrees” and they offer a job guarantee upon completion. Meaning that after you complete the course and have demonstrated knowledge of the material you are guaranteed a job.
These courses are time-intensive and require a lot of commitment from the student but they can be some of the most rewarding on the platform as well. And while most of them are paid, the quality is outstanding for the price that you do pay for it.
If FreeCodeCamp does not offer a course on a topic that you are interested in then Udacity would be a good place to start looking. Their topics range from web development to business in software, to self-driving cars.
Khan Academy is one of the most well-known online learning platforms out there. Their main sources of material are devoted to helping people through the education system. They offer subjects from Kindergarten to College level courses.
Khan also has a section for coding, where they have courses on web development as well as information akin to computer science courses taught in real colleges. One section that is particularly well done here is Cryptography. This topic is usually completely absent on platforms but Khan teaches it and they do a stellar job of it as well.
If you are looking for a platform to learn computer science as a whole then Khan is probably going to be where you want to be. Although they don’t go quite so far into the skill side of things that FreeCodeCamp does the information they have is top-notch.
FreeCodeCamp provides quality education for absolutely no cost to its students. They were one of the first to offer this kind of product online and have shown how open source projects can blossom. While they don’t offer some of the more elite services like a personal instructor or career mentor, they do offer a great platform to learn the skills you will need to succeed.
Their platform is not going to be for everyone. Those that require outside accountability, which is a large group, won’t have a lot of success here if they don’t involve themselves with the community. It also is not a great platform for those that want a guarantee of a job at the end of the course.
But if you are a beginner it is an excellent place for you to start. Even those that want to be serious about getting a job in the industry can find a lot of benefit in FreeCodeCamp. They offer a course in at least one aspect in every major sector of the technology industry for their students.
The community that surrounds the platform is one of the best parts. Everyone there is super helpful and many of them are prior students that have since found a job in the industry. Getting feedback from professionals at no cost is a definite upside.
All in all, FreeCodeCamp is an excellent platform to learn about coding and things like it. They offer all of their services for free and help thousands of students every year get a job in the industry that they love. They also help a lot of other non-profit companies with their students participating in projects to help them grow free of charge
Is FreeCodeCamp legit?
Yes, FreeCodeCamp is a legit learning platform that millions of people have found benefit in. There is no cost to the program either so you won’t be out anything for trying it either besides your time.
The company is also a non-profit, and it helps a lot of other non-profits with projects that their students participate in. So there is a philanthropic air about the process as well.
Is FreeCodeCamp accredited?
No FreeCodeCamp is not accredited, but this isn’t because it is a free platform. None of the big expensive coding boot camps are accredited, either. The platform does offer certifications like some of the paid boot camps do, but realistically employers aren’t going to be looking at that either.
Accredited schools are recognized by the government and have standards set by private agencies. It would be difficult for these kinds of platforms to attain these accreditations due to having no physical campus and not covering anything but a few courses.
The closest thing would be referencing it as a trade school on resumes, but that is a stretch.
Is FreeCodeCamp good for beginners?
FreeCodeCamp is excellent for beginners as every one of their courses starts at the very beginning of a subject whatever that may be. They gradually increase the difficulty and introduce new subjects without overwhelming the student.
There are a few courses that you should probably have a little bit of coding experience before getting into though. The cybersecurity course is one that while it doesn’t assume too much prior knowledge it is probably best that you have some.
The platform also does a great job at not requiring much outside software to learn. IT skills almost always require the usage of numerous pieces of software, but FreeCodeCamp keeps everything contained to their built-in coding interface.
How long does it take to finish FreeCodeCamp?
This is mostly going to depend on the student because there are no videos for you to watch. Meaning there isn’t anything that says you have to watch something for 10 minutes before completing a task.
The platform does put a guideline that it will likely take around 300 hours to complete each one of their courses, but this is just an average and it isn’t set in stone. A big variable in time on the courses is in the projects as the more effort you put in and extras you incorporate the longer it will take you.
If you read and comprehend the information fast then it might get you in at a little under 300 hours. But unless you have prior experience in the subjects don’t expect to be burning through as there is a lot of information to take in.
Is FreeCodeCamp actually free?
Yes, everything on FreeCodeCamp is entirely free and no part of the curriculum will cost any money at all.
FreeCodeCamp is a nonprofit and the only way they bring in funds is through donations and the sale of merchandise like sweatshirts and hats. There is also no advertising on the site which is extremely rare to see these days and goes to show how seriously they take that part of the program.
Can I get a job with FreeCodeCamp?
Yes, you can get a job with the skills that you receive from FreeCodeCamp. But unlike some other coding boot camps out there the company does not offer a job guarantee. There is also no direct career support on the platform to speak of as they do not have mentors.
What you are offered, however, are certifications to display on your resume that says you have completed the course with all material being completed. But this is unlikely to land you any jobs.
The portfolio that you create along the way is your ticket to the industry. Because the tech industry is experiencing such growth, proof that you have the skills to complete a task is sometimes more beneficial than a degree.
Students also have the opportunity to work with other non-profit groups on projects that can give you valuable experience in the industry, this can also serve as a reference on your resume should you need it.
There is also an entire section on the FreeCodeCamp website of people that have gotten jobs just from using the platform, so if you need some further proof and motivation then you should look there.