The Best Ways to Learn Java Fast
Want to make it as a software developer? You’re going to need Java.
No, we’re not referring to a cup of fresh-brewed coffee (though you can’t go wrong stocking up on some of that, too!). Instead, we’re referring to Java with a capital “J” — a versatile programming language that stands as one of the central pillars of all modern software development.
So, you might be wondering: What’s the best way to learn Java? and, How do aspiring developers learn Java quickly? Don’t worry; in this article, we’ll explain all the tried-and-true ways to upskill and gain industry-grade Java skills fast.
If you’re interested in learning Java and other in-demand full stack programming languages, explore The Coding Boot Camp at UT Austin. But before we jump into learning tactics, let’s cover the basics.
What is Java?
A developer team at Sun Microsystems first created Java in 1995; however, the language ultimately rose to its current prominence after Oracle acquired and deployed it across billions of devices. Given its twenty-year monolithic status as the world’s predominant programming language, Java is well-regarded in development circles.
Object-oriented refers to a programming paradigm where methods and attributes are packaged into neat, encapsulated “objects” that can interact with each other based on predefined patterns of behavior.
Variables are statically typed in Java, which means that variable types cannot be changed once explicitly declared. For example, a variable declared as a “number” cannot later be reassigned to “text.” This permanence allows for code errors to be quickly and automatically detected by the Java virtual environment for speedy debugging.
Why Does Java Matter?
Java’s best selling point is that developers can “write once, run anywhere.” In the early days of software development, code was machine-specific and bound to the operating system it was running on. However, because Java provides a virtual environment that runs on top of the operating system’s computational logic, its code can effectively run on any machine.
Java was also the first programming language that allowed for enterprise-level code modules to be ported to the world wide web. Nowadays, Java is used most often in Android development, web development, and proprietary codebases.
To risk an understatement — Java is popular.
According to Stack Overflow’s 2020 Developer survey, Java currently ranks within the top five most popular programming languages for professional developers, and is the second-most widely known programming language (PDF, 2.4 MB) in the world.
First off, Java is very well established. There’s no shortage of books, online tutorials, and resources for new developers to rely on.
Now that we’ve established what Java is and why it should be a tool in your professional skill set, let’s talk about the best and fastest ways to learn Java.
The Best Ways to Learn
Depending on your learning style, you may be better suited to one educational framework over another. As you peruse the list below, make sure to consider your interests, prior obligations, and resources before narrowing in on one educational path.
There is an abundance of free and low-cost courses covering the basics of Java online. Not only are these virtual courses cheap, but you can learn remotely and according to your schedule.
That’s right — no adhering to strict deadlines, crack-of-dawn classes, or uncompromising instructors. Self-guided courses allow you to learn and build on concepts you’ve already mastered, all at your own pace. Most are equipped with post-lesson activities, labs, and tests; some even offer certifications!
If you’re looking for a mixture of structure and flexibility, you’ll be well-suited for self-directed Java courses. Of course, you’ll have to be sufficiently dedicated and passionate to stick to a self-defined learning schedule — otherwise, low motivation might prevent you from ever finishing your education.
Be careful to avoid poor-quality instructional materials, too. Not all online courses are created equal. We suggest you glance over learner reviews when choosing instructors and only opt for the most well-regarded courses.
Here are a few online learning sites that will help you learn and practice Java fundamentals
- CodeGym: CodeGym is a unique online platform that values actual coding over coursework. All courses use an 80 percent real-world Java practice, 20 percent instruction curriculum model.
- Codecademy’s Learn Java: In this course, Codecademy covers the basics of Java programming, object orientation, and best programming practices.
- Udemy: Udemy is an online course directory that provides highly specific Java lessons surrounding web development, Android development, and fundamental concepts.
Boot Camp Programs
Looking for a more intensive, structured, and instructor-supported course on Java? Coding boot camps are short-term, project-driven courses that equip learners with industry-ready skill sets within three to six months.
These accelerated learning programs give new or hobbyist coders the professional tools that they need to take on entry-level roles in full stack web development, data analytics, software development, and more.
Boot camps are not only less expensive than a traditional college program, they are also designed to make you a competent developer as expediently as possible.
Moreover, since most coding boot camps teach a broad array of languages and coding frameworks, those who complete boot camps learn a wide variety of marketable skills. Great boot camps feature one-on-one instructor access, peer-driven learning environments, and in-class portfolio projects. Unlike other program types, boot camps also provide a high degree of flexibility — beginners can often choose between learning in-person, part-time, full-time, or online.Given all of these perks, it should be no surprise that coding boot camps are an increasingly popular means of upskilling. According to a recent report from Career Karma, the coding boot camp market shot up 4.38 percent in 2019 alone. That year, a whopping 33,959 participants successfully completed such programs.
How many people complete coding boot camps:
However, before opting for a boot camp, you’ll have to consider whether or not the expense and time commitment are worthwhile. Since boot camps usually aren’t limited to Java and typically encompass several other languages, you’ll likely be committing to a much more comprehensive learning experience.
The decision depends on your intention. If you’re only looking to learn Java and not, say, pick up a suite of foundational coding skills, the time and financial investment may not be appealing to you. However, if you do want to learn several marketable skills within a short period, a boot camp may be your best option.
Want more information about what a coding boot camp entails? Check out the resources below.
- The Ultimate Guide to Coding Boot Camps in 2020: Course Report provides a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about the boot camp experience and industry.
- How I Transitioned My Career into Tech with a Coding Boot Camp: Caitlyn, a boot camp alumni, shares how she was able to transition to working as a software developer after six months of intensive training.
- The Coding Boot Camp at UT Austin: Curious to see what a boot camp looks like? UT Austin Boot Camps provide a helpful guide outlining all the core coursework of its coding program.
Books and YouTube Tutorials
Do you struggle in structured environments? You’re not out of luck — there are plenty of online resources, books, and tutorials geared toward self-driven learners!
You can cobble together your own Java curriculum by pairing independent study guides with regular practice. Interestingly, this learning style best mirrors how already-employed developers advance their careers outside of work.
Because new capabilities, features, and coding frameworks are continually introduced, it’s impossible for developers to ever “master” a language completely. The most successful developers learn off the clock — and sometimes, they don’t even need to seek out formal instruction to do so.
Unlike other learning options, independent study is often dirt-cheap, if not free. You, the learner, can control your learning pace and direction. However, you’ll need to be extremely motivated, accountable, and disciplined. Otherwise, you may find yourself struggling to make your way through a single lesson, let alone an entire curriculum.
That said, it can be challenging to build your curriculum out of the myriad of disconnected tutorials and lessons available in books and on the internet. New learners can become discouraged if they do not have colleagues or instructors to talk over ideas and questions. Plus, it’s difficult to gauge how well you’re doing if you’re learning in an isolated bubble. How do you know you’re pursuing the right skills and spending your time well?
We suggest finding a buddy you want to learn coding with. Programming partners make it easy to stick to a schedule and stay motivated, especially when obstacles arise. Trust us, problems will undoubtedly crop up — but with enough forethought and support, you can tackle them!
Check out these resources below to learn more about a book- and tutorial-driven education:
- Head First Java — Kathy Sierra & Bert Bates. Sierra and Bates use psychologically tested tricks to help readers master Java through novel problem-solving.
- Java: A Beginner’s Guide — Herbert Schildt. Schildt covers all the fundamental concepts of Java programming and more advanced skills such as multithreaded programming, generics, and Swing.
- Learn Java 8: Full Beginner’s Tutorial — FreeCodeCamp. In just shy of ten hours, this video walks viewers through the fundamentals of Java.
The Importance of Ongoing Practice
Yes, you may have worked your way through a dozen self-directed courses or successfully completed a full-fledged boot camp — but don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’re truly done learning, or that you know everything there is to know about Java!
Like any coding language, Java is in a constant state of evolution. Only two years ago, Oracle released an all-new functional programming update for Java, which flipped the object-oriented model on its head; the update empowered Java developers to use mathematical constructs to craft intuitive functions, rather than the conventional methods such as variable declarations or control flows.
The coding world won’t sit still for you! You’ll need to continually reinforce your formal training through hands-on exercises, pet projects, and regularly chatting with more experienced developers.
We suggest brushing up on core concepts and branching out through online code training platforms. Many sites offer web-embedded Java development environments, where developers can test their skills through problem-solving.
Every Java developer should check out these resources below:
- Edabit: Edabit provides a range of Java challenges that range from novice to expert difficulty.
- CodingBat: CodingBat is a bare-bones problem-solving site that provides some of the most employer-used Java coding challenges on the web.
- HackerRank: Users gain points and climb the leaderboard through solving tricky Java coding challenges.
Is There a Wrong Way to Learn?
As with any skill in life, there is a right and wrong way to learn Java. If you’re inconsistent about practice or take a sporadic approach, you may find yourself spinning your wheels for months, with no real skills gained.
If you’re struggling to find motivation, try applying the 20-Minute Rule. Even if you’re tired after a long day of work, set a specific time where you commit to coding for just twenty minutes. Chances are, you’ll end up working for much longer than that.
If you want to learn to code, you can’t shy away from challenges. It’s not enough to simply watch a tutorial; you need to apply the concepts it teaches to your projects! The hardest part is getting started. But once the mind is focused on a task, mental inertia will begin to work in your favor.
Hopefully, you now have a clearer idea of how to learn Java fast. If you take just one point away from this article, let it be this — commit. Commit yourself to a boot camp program or a self-directed study regimen. With enough willpower and dedication, you can accomplish anything.