If someone wants to change from help desk work to programming but can't afford pricey schools what language would most beneficial to learn? And do you have recommendations for where/how to learn?

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I think at this point I'm echoing a lot of the people here with Python. I recommend looking into how you can leverage it for your current job and use that as work motivation to learn further(also get paid to learn). Udemy, Youtube, online free courses exist for Python all over.

I'd consider how you can utilize it for automation and ways to facilitate your current tasks. for some simple examples for help desk, learning how to gather and manipulate data with Python is a good beginner thing.

Realistically, using it for scripting purposes would likely be more relevant to your role, and as you learn more, ideally you'll ask yourself "Can I do X with python, instead of manually doing it myself? will I save time doing so?"

Also when picking it up, this may be a good opportunity to see if others you work with use it in their day to day? I've had co-workers in IT who have used python for simple things but not had time/motivation to really explore how to do something and they put projects on the back burner.

I ended up learning powershell to do mass imports for PRTG a few years back in a different role.

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For my 2 cents, think about what kind of things you want to build first, then pick a suitable language / framework to learn. Learn by building a thing you actually want for yourself.

Do you want to do AI / ML? Learn Python and the libs and software involved there. Do you want to build webapps? Maybe TypeScript, NestJs, Nuxt, React, etc. Do you want to make games? C#, Unity. Enterprise? Java, Spring, maybe .Net... You get the idea.

There are so many specialties and subcultures in dev. There are infinite tools. Narrow them down to ones relevant to what you want to do first at least.

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You might want to nail down what type of programming you want to learn. General scripting, web software, and mobile apps are different tracks that will push you in different directions.

But for a general suggestion, I'd suggest Python or Java. There are both fairly flexible and allow you to go in a few directions. Both of those languages are also starter languages that will have lots of beginner level learning material.

I'd check you local library for books or online courses first.

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Agree with this

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Im not sure how others feel about this, but as someone who just finished a bootcamp, learning python didnt really help me find my first job. However learning Java would’ve helped me find a job a lot sooner in my opinion. It seems like there’s 5 jobs that require Java for every 1 that require Python

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That sounds a lot like getting paid for getting an education to me. I don't think employers should be hiring unqualified people just to help them on their journey.

Edit: not your personal experience. I mean the people with no engineering experience who get hired to write code AKA be babysat

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I can give a bit of perspective on this; I’ve both self-learned and went to a very well known bootcamp myself. If you are starting fresh, do not sign up for a bootcamp yet regardless of the cost. Bootcamp isn’t enough for most people; it’s way too fast paced and most of the people I’ve personally seen still need to spend weeks or months afterwards self studying before they get placed anywhere. Financially, this would mean you would, on average, have no income for 6-8 months unless you’re very intrinsically talented and very hard working. Here’s what I would now do knowing what I know:

1. Do Hardvard CS50. This is a free course offered by Hardvard online that teaches you the basics of programming then touches up on different areas of programming.
2. Do freeCodeCamp. This is a resource that I’ve recommended to 5 individuals now who went self taught and now all have good jobs in the industry. It’s a project-driven learning resource; you learn by building. It gives you hands-on experience. YouTube videos can help here and there, but do not get trapped in tutorial hell; that’s consuming videos/watching tutorials without ever attempting to build yourself. You have to build and get experience to learn.
3. If ABSOLUTELY necessary, there are bootcamps that offer scholarship programs. I went to Fullstack Academy in New York City for free back in the day.
4. Brush up on algorithms and data structures to prep for interviews. A few very good resources are: 1. Interview cake (more beginner friendly), 2. Neetcode, 3. Grokking the coding interview
5. Use the projects you’ve built earlier (freeCodeCamp) and put them on your resume, then apply for jobs and interview.

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If you’re in Helpdesk, talk to the engineers and eng managers in your company …. Ask what languages, advice, and they might even invite you in to projects to learn on the job! Engineers rely on Helpdesk so they don’t have to do that support work. They would probably enjoy building a better relationship with you.

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Agree. An internal move might be a good next step

Although I did CS in college, 80% of what I know now was learned on the job and on my own.

A CS degree mostly teaches you high level Computer Science concepts and not how to code (you code on your own and keep practicing).

My recommendations for base languages:
- Back-end: Python or Java (Java has types but strict syntax rules whereas Python is simple and more beginner friendly)
- Front-end: JavaScript
- Mobile: JavaScript or Java

Some example paths:
- Back-end: Python or Java, different frameworks/tools, data structure and/or high level Computer Science concepts
- Front-end: JavaScript or TypeScript, a web framework (i.e React, Vue), HTML, CSS
- Mobile:
--> Native: Swift (IOS), Kotlin (Android)
--> Single codebase (IOS and Android): React Native, JavaScript or TypeScript, HTML, CSS (this is all front-end for the app, you would need to consume back-end APIs for the data)

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Udemy has some nice courses and sometimes they are on promotion for very low prices.
Python is a very useful language and not so hard to learn.

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Yes, employees will be ok with self taught. Being 100 percent transparent, It will be harder to get interviews going this route. The best you can do is to make up for your lack of experience by showcasing your projects in your resume. If you do freeCodeCamp, you’ll be able to put your certificate of completion on which some recruiters will see as education. That said, even if you were a new grad without a ton of internships, getting an interview wouldn’t be super easy. Try to network with people on LinkedIn if you can. A lot of people are willing to help, especially the people in the self-taught community/bootcamp grads.

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Your best friend is your job. I guarantee you perform 25 - 30 tasks repeatedly throughout the week that can be scripted. Google "how to X in powershell" and script those tasks. It's not programming but a good way to introduce yourself to the field. If you dont like it you'll hate programming. You'll learn on company time and once you get good you'll free up so much time you can also take online courses at work.

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It’s a big transition to becoming a developer, involving luck, persistence, and kind people along the way. I would look for as natural a progression as you can. Is your company using Salesforce? Database? Become an application developer or administrator. Even a boot camp can’t give you what you already have, a relationship with a company. Find a company that will support your growth. Find a need and fill it, there will probably be many steps along the way. I started programming in high school for my uncle. My big opportunity came when I became an actuarial student and was paid to learn programming languages they needed. People will let you learn on the job if you are dirt cheap and can do it.

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How do you feel about DevOps? You could get a DevOps job perhaps. It's lower risk since you're not touching production code.

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Look at some job listings. Learn the basics of the tools and languages you need to know. Spend some time learning them. Apply

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So will employers be ok with self-taught? Or will I end up starting out less than even what I'm making now? My end game is to be making more while having a skill I can do remotely without having to be on a phone all the time, because I don't think I'll be able to relocate without drama around my kids.

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Self taught is good as long as you are applying it to the real world. Not just a “ I taught myself so I could get a high-paying job. “.
I was self-taught in a real world job, and then went to school, and can apply everything I have learned in self taught and in school.

Some big tech companies have the programs for people at any position (sales, help desk, etc) to get free programming education within the company. I know Amazon and Apple do, and have friends who become software engineers this way. Check if your company has such a program.

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Just interviewed for a company that I asked about possible future roles in either software development or project management and the interviewer had some promising information in that regard. So this might be a good way to get started.

I would choose Python, as you can go in two different directions with that language: (1) application development or (2) data science. The approaches are quite different, but the base language is the same and is transferable, if ever interested in studying to switch from one to the other.

There is so much free learning online today. I found Coursera to be good and if you don't need to show a certificate, then it is free. My second choice would be Youtube, also free and teaming with great content. Where as if you are a Udemy creator, you are incentivized to create very long conceptual courses (at least in my experience), with Youtube, it incentivizes micro-learning that is less conceptual and more experiential, which for me is much better learning experience.

Good luck!

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Do a bootcamp! You don’t need a 4 year degree just for programming! What language to learn? Well that should be based on your interests and what languages companies near you want their employees to know

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OP of course front-end is viable long term. The field is always changing, plus there are tangential opportunities like UI/UX, web design, or you could expand your skills to become full stack

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Python is easy but HIGHLY recommend “ Bro Code “ on YouTube he has hours and hours of tutorials on various programming languages.

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Bootcamp I went to and now teach at us only $1700 for 6 months of full stack or Python. Less for just front bedroom obviously

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Yeah I think that's one I looked at last year. :)

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