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The Key Differences Between Free Online Code Courses & Online IT Certifications

The Key Differences Between Free Online Code Courses & Online IT Certifications

Hands down, learning to code is one of the best things you can do for your IT career—whether you want to work directly as a developer or just get a deeper understanding of the nuts and bolts of the apps, software and websites you work with every day.

But choosing exactly where to start with your coding education can be difficult.

Free online courses can be tempting because there’s no required monetary investment and you can work at your own pace, but certifications carry far more weight with HR managers trying to make the best hire for their company—to the point that they’re willing to pay those candidates 9% in their initial job offer.

Learning to Code From Harvard, Google & MIT For FREE

One of the best things about free online coding courses is that some of the most popular companies and top educational institutions are offering them to anyone willing to take the time to sit and go through the coursework.

Harvard offers a free introductory course to computer science online as a series of filmed lectures from the actual class that took place in the university.

Tech giant Google has a free class for learning to develop with Python, and MIT offers three free online coding courses: Intro to Computer Science and Programming, Practical Programming in C, and Structure & Interpretation of Computer Programs.

Other free online programs, like Code Academy, teach you lots of languages like JavaScript, PHP, jQuery, Ruby, and HTML + CSS, and even offer practical hands-on practice of what you learn.

The Catch of Free Online Courses

Free online coding courses are wonderful, for sure.

If you don’t have any coding knowledge and are curious if it’s something you’d like to pursue, they’re the perfect place to learn what you’d be getting into and to get fundamental knowledge to use as a base for more formal education.

The catch is, that while you may learn a ton while taking the course, there’s no exam at the end, and therefore no way to prove your competency in the area you’ve studied. There’s a certain amount of infrastructure required for that, and that’s something you have to pay for.

Affordable Online IT Certifications: IT’s Best-Kept Secret

Certifications, on the other hand, are the best-kept secret of advancing an IT career.

They come from organizations HR managers know they can trust, and since there’s an exam or final project attached to them, the hiring managers you submit your resume to will be confident enough in your abilities to keep you in the stack that gets called for an interview.

In fact, certifications might actually be more powerful (and are certainly more affordable) than four-year degrees.

According to Bloomberg, 70% of coding boot camp students already have a college degree, but decide to enroll to learn code because they’re desperate for better job availability, job security, and a decent salary. Further, they said that nearly 60% see a salary increase that averages around $23,000 extra per year.

In CompTIA’s 2015 report, 5 Reasons Why Employers Look for IT Certifications, “91% of employers believe IT certifications play a key role in the hiring process and that IT certifications are a reliable predictor of a successful employee.”

What Real People Did With Their IT Certifications

Borrowing a couple testimonials from Microsoft about what earning a certification has done for their students’ careers, you can see the impact that studying towards an online coding certification has:

Connecticut-based systems engineer Jason Zandri said,

“They’ve allowed me, a person with just a GED education, the ability to move out of a blue collar job into the professional, white collar field with limitless opportunity and a six figure salary since I was 35 (going on my tenth year of that).”

Teresa Burger, a Texas-based developer, said,

“The job market today is insane: I get job offers every day. It’s a great market for developers. It’s even better if you have your certification because that gives you that one little edge you have against somebody that doesn’t if you’re going for the same job.”

Complete a Code Certification in As Little As 8 Days

The good news is, getting a certification in coding online doesn’t have to take much time at all.

In many cases, you can be in and out of your course in a month or two and earning a higher salary sooner than you ever thought possible.

One of our students, a US Army veteran named Jonathan said,

“I was skeptical at first, but my college professor had been emphasizing the importance of IT certifications in addition to formal education. I am so glad I checked LeaderQuest out! I am loving my new job and am excited about my future.”

Have you ever done a free or paid online training course? What did you think?

4 Ways IT Training Can Help You Grab Your Web Development Career by the Horns & Start Earning More

“A few years ago they needed to know Flash,” said James Bessen in the Harvard Business Review about web developers. “Now they need to know HTML5 instead.”

According to Melinda Barlow of Recruiter.com, technology as an industry “suffers from a huge gap in basic education.”

It’s no secret that technology is advancing at warp speed, and every time it changes, it seems to require at least one skill set that isn’t taught in traditional schools and therefore isn’t readily available amongst job seekers.

And web developers are at the forefront of the changes.

But if you’re a go-getter and want do advance your career as a web developer, this education gap is hardly bad news—in fact, it’s incredibly easy to use it to your advantage.

It’s the perfect storm of opportunity to become quickly qualified to work on projects a lot of your peers can’t touch, boosting your value, opportunities, and salary.

All you’ve got to do is find an IT training course that focuses on one particular segment that’s lacking (like HTML5), take the course, add it to your resume, and start finding work.

4 Ways IT Web Development Training Puts You In Control of Your Career Destiny

1. Fill a skills gap companies are desperate for

Each company wants different skills for their “perfect” web developer, but as a rule of thumb, you can bet you’ll be able to find companies desperate to hire web developers who are familiar with:

  • Web design
    • You don’t need enough know-how to be a full-fledged designer, but knowing how design elements work together on a page can give you valuable problem-solving know-how when you run into problems on your projects.
  • Native mobile platform development
    • Lots of IT startups are preferring to go mobile-first, meaning they don’t actually bother with web development in the traditional sense… they need you to develop for a mobile screen first, maybe a computer screen later.
  • UX (User Experience)
    • Similar to understanding web design, companies love having developers who understand that just because something works doesn’t mean it works for a quality user experience. Studying intuitive user behavior and knowing how to cater to that while you’re making a website come to life is something companies appreciate the value of.

2. Boost your worth

Once you’ve finished a particular IT training, you can start asking for more responsibilities related to your current job role that integrate what you’ve learned.

As soon as you see yourself providing a tangible, worthwhile value to the company via your new IT-based skill set, you can ask for a raise or start looking for new jobs that pay more.

3. Stay ahead of the technology curve

What schools teach in IT degree programs goes out of date. (Sometimes even before a student graduates from a four-year program.)

By getting regular IT trainings in web development skills as they hit the market, you stay ahead of the technology curve and become the irreplaceable, go-to colleague for handling the newest, coolest (and better-paying) projects.

4. Create ongoing job security

No matter how bad the economy gets, businesses are always going to want the best websites to out-compete their competitors.

If you take IT training courses to make sure your knowledge in cutting-edge web development never goes out of date, then your job security won’t either.

What to do Next: Grab Your Career by the Horns & Start Earning More

If you’re currently working as a web developer, look at your company’s job listings for more senior positions and take note of the skills and know-how they have listed that you don’t have yet.

If you’re not working (or want to switch companies), check out the job listings of companies you’d die to work for send a kind message to your would-be manager on LinkedIn.

Want to know what skills your favorite companies want but can’t find their job openings online? Here’s a simple message you can send on LinkedIn to find out:

Hi [Name],

I’m a web developer that feels like it’s time to start expanding my career.

I’m a huge fan of your company, but I’m not asking you for a job… I just want to put some feelers out there to know which new certifications I should start looking at to get things moving in the right direction.

If you don’t mind me asking, what are some up-and-coming skill sets in web development that you think will be important to your company in the next few years?

Thanks so much!

Cheers,
[Your Name]

Once you find out which certifications you need, find an IT training or web development certification program that encompasses those skills and gives you hands-on practice.

When the program is finished, show your new certification to your boss and HR manager and ask if you’d be able to start working on projects with those skill sets. Ideally, they’d be able to ease you into those responsibilities by letting you shadow someone for a while.

If you don’t have a job in web development right now, use your new certifications to your advantage to help you land freelance projects that other freelancers can’t handle to build up an awesome portfolio before you start sending applications in to your dream-come-true companies.

Why is Responsive Web Design Such an Important Skill?

Why is Responsive Web Design Such an Important Skill?

Design and development are merging into one.

It seems like a crazy thought at first, but it isn’t really. With web access possible from computers, phones, and tablets of all shapes and sizes, the need for responsive web pages is greater than it ever was before.

And to create nice-looking, user-friendly responsive web pages, design and development have to fit together hand-in-glove. If they don’t, the design either comes across as clunky and cluttered, or the elements on the page don’t work right—and either one can be a death sentence for a website that gets a fair amount of mobile traffic.

In fact, in a SitePoint poll, 70% of the respondents thought designers should have good enough coding skills to help bring their ideas to life and modify how different elements interact, if necessary.

As a developer, you may not be responsible or expected to understand the psychology of color or how branding guidelines play out on a web page, but you will need to understand design enough to know how to make page elements work together when you’re creating a responsive web page.

Why Companies Want the Full Package of Responsive Design + Development

To understand exactly why responsive development is so important to companies, you need to know a little bit about SEO:

Because more than 25% of all web traffic is mobile and some sites get more than 50% of their traffic from mobile devices, it’s important for them to count this traffic towards one domain.

If it counts towards two domains, website.com and mobile.website.com, for example, the search rankings and quality score of their original domain will decline. With the internet’s cut-throat competition for traffic and being number one in search results, most businesses are not willing to suffer this loss.

To solve the problem, they go for fully responsive websites that look nice regardless of whether they display on a desktop computer screen or a smart phone.

boston globe brolik

Brolik shows an example of what a responsive home page looks like for the Boston Globe in their blog post Responsive Web Design Examples with CSS Tips and Tricks. Using fluid grids, the page looks nice and is user-friendly no matter the screen resolution.

How Developers Solve Display Problems with Responsive Design

There are almost an endless supply of screen sizes and resolutions out there that responsive websites have to adjust to and look good on.

This presents quite a challenge to designers and developers, but renders the possibility of designing and developing a custom screen for each resolution size completely impossible.

Creating fluid grids has become a fairly common way to assess the need for web pages that display elements according to the screen width allowed, along with fluid images and smart mark-up.

And the work developers do to implement responsive design for mobile screens does boost business: O’Neill clothing brand increased their sales transaction rates on mobile devices by 333.33% on Android and 112.5% on iOS after they went responsive.

What Companies Value in Responsive-Intelligent Designers and Developers

Though it’s more or less expected that a good designer will know his or her way around HTML, CSS and JavaScript, web developers are in much higher demand.

Increasingly, web designers still don’t have a very good grasp of what goes on underneath their designs (the code) to make them live and interactive for a user, so it’s important for developers to know some basics of design and display to make responsive designs successful.

In fact, though there are 200,870 positions open for web designers, there are 1,336,300 positions open for web developers – that’s 6.65 times more job opportunities.

Further, there’s a significant salary difference at steak. While the average web designer earns $47,820 each year, the average web developer has a $85,430 annual salary.

Earn Your Certification in Web Development & Land One of These Valuable Positions

At LeaderQuest, we to prepare job seekers for the kind of positions companies want to hire for.

We offer an entry-level course for people totally unfamiliar with web development, but would like to start working in that niche. Our Web Design training lasts 25 days and teaches you all the practical and hands-on knowledge you need in HTML5, CSS, JavaScript and jQurey to optimize the user experience on a website: whether it’s on a computer screen or a tablet.

For intermediate level developers, we offer Web Development training lasting 8 days that teaches students to develop and launch modern web apps.

Through our Premier Placement Partner Program, we give all of our graduates increased exposure to hiring mangers, and our customized training plans bend to accommodate full-time workers.

Learn more about which of our web development programs is best suited to your career goals, or get in touch to talk with one of our career advisors to find out the steps you can take to become one of the valuable, responsive design intelligent web developers companies are so desperate to hire.