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How to Learn JavaScript

Have you noticed how some navigation bars change when you press a button to show more web pages? Or how some forms submit after you press a button without redirecting you to another page? Behind these features and most of the other interactive features on modern websites is the JavaScript programming language.

In this guide, we’re going to discuss how to learn JavaScript. This is a big question so we will break it down into smaller parts. We will first discuss what JavaScript is and what you need to know about the language. Later, we will talk about what resources you can use to learn JavaScript.

What Is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a programming language used for web development. This language lets you add interactive features to websites, such as content that changes after a period of time or when you interact with the website in some way. JavaScript is almost always used alongside HTML and CSS in web development.

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HTML itself was designed to state the structure of a web page so browsers know how to display a page. CSS, on the other hand, styles web pages. But neither of these languages was built for interactive features. That’s why we have JavaScript. Today, JavaScript is part of most modern websites. It can make websites easier to use and more functional.

Jobs that Require JavaScript Skills

JavaScript skills are a requirement in almost every web development job. Most modern websites have JavaScript features on the front end (the part the user sees); as a web developer, you will be responsible for maintaining existing JavaScript code and building new features in JavaScript.

JavaScript is also used on the backend through frameworks like Node.js. While many companies use technologies other than JavaScript frameworks for their backend architecture, you may still be asked JavaScript-related questions or be tasked to write JavaScript code at some point in your job. Thus, knowing JavaScript is a key skill for backend web developers.

What Companies Use JavaScript?

Because JavaScript is one of the building blocks of the Internet, almost every company with a website uses it to some extent. Even companies that use drag-and-drop website builders will have JavaScript on their websites (however, the company would most likely not have asked someone to write JavaScript if they use a website builder).

To show you how widespread JavaScript is, we have prepared a list of companies that use this language:

  • New York Times
  • PayPal
  • Netflix
  • Uber
  • BBC
  • Amazon

The list could go on and on. If you see a website that changes when you interact with it, you can bet that it is probably using JavaScript in some way.

Salary for JavaScript Developers

JavaScript developers are likely to pursue one of three career paths: front end, backend, or full stack web development. Front end web developers earn an average salary of $76,929 per year. Backend developers earn an average of $101,619. Full stack developers, meanwhile, earn $105,813 on average per year. These statistics were sources from Glassdoor.

What Skills Do I Need to Master JavaScript

You will need a working understanding of HTML and CSS to use JavaScript. JavaScript is normally used to make HTML documents more interactive; without HTML, there would be no web page to make interactive. Without an understanding of HTML and CSS, you will struggle to pick up the basics of JavaScript.

A good understanding of how the web works is valuable, too. For instance, knowing how web applications are structured and how web pages are rendered is useful knowledge. But you can pick up all of this knowledge as you learn about JavaScript. Thus, having a good understanding of the web is preferred, but not required.

Where to Learn JavaScript

Where can you learn JavaScript? That is a great question. With so many resources available online, you may struggle to choose a single place from which to learn JavaScript. We have prepared a list of some top JavaScript learning resources to help you out.

Learn JavaScript Online

  • Author:
  • Price: First 40 lessons free, $55 for full access to all 300 lessons and more
  • Type of Resource: Interactive tutorial

Learn JavaScript Online is a practical, interactive course. You will be presented with exercises to complete in your browser. The Learn JavaScript Online coding environment is built to show the output of your code and to test the code you have written. This means you will have good visibility into what your code is doing and whether the answers to challenges you are given meet specifications.

This online course covers the basics of JavaScript, from using JSON to working with strings, arrays, and variables. You will also be given real-world projects to practice your skills after you have learned the theory behind certain concepts in the classroom. To accompany these projects, there are also flashcards you can use to revise what you learn.

Learn JavaScript – Full Course for Beginners

  • Author: freeCodeCamp
  • Price: Free
  • Type of Resource: Video

This video, which lasts almost three and a half hours, is a comprehensive introduction to JavaScript. You will start by learning how to run JavaScript. Then, you will go on to learn a range of JavaScript concepts, from adding numbers to modifying arrays. In the second part of the course, you will learn about concepts introduced to JavaScript in ES6, a major update of the language.

The instructor in this course breaks down concepts in a way that is easy to understand. This video comes with a list of times so that you can skip to the concepts you really want to learn about. This list of times is available in the first comment in the YouTube comments section.

The Complete JavaScript Course 2021: From Zero to Expert!

  • Author: Jonas Schmedtmann
  • Price: $59.99
  • Type of Resource: course

In this course, you will learn to build your own JavaScript web applications. At the start of the course, you will study the basics of JavaScript and how it works. You will then learn about features like functions, arrays, numbers, events, and more, all of which will be useful in your day-to-day JavaScript coding.

This course will walk you through building six real-world projects you can display on your portfolio. The author promises to help you become “job-ready” by introducing you to exactly the concepts and skills you need to know in professional JavaScript environments.

HTML, CSS, and Javascript for Web Developers

  • Author: Johns Hopkins University (on Coursera)
  • Price: Free
  • Type of Resource: Course

This course is an introduction to web development, starting from scratch. At the beginning of the course, you will learn how to build basic web pages with HTML and CSS. In week four of the course, you will be introduced to JavaScript. You will then move on to using some JavaScript to build interactive web applications.

This course is worth a look if you have no prior knowledge of web development and are starting from scratch. With a range of quizzes, reading materials, and exercises on which to work, you will have no trouble mastering the basics of web development and JavaScript.

Learn JavaScript

  • Author: Codecademy
  • Price: Free
  • Type of Resource: Course

This course, which takes an estimated 30 hours to complete,  will teach you the basics of JavaScript and object-oriented development. You will start by learning about data types, variables, and built-in methods. You will then go on to explore topics like conditionals, functions, arrays, and more.

With the Pro version of this course, you will be tasked with working on three portfolio projects to reinforce the skills you have learned in class. For instance, you will be asked to create a magic eight ball using JavaScript.

By the end of this course, you will have a good understanding of how to work with JavaScript to build interactive websites. You will also understand asynchronous programming in JavaScript.

JavaScript Tutorials

Do you prefer to learn from written tutorials? Or do you need somewhere you can go for code snippets on topics you are learning about? That’s where tutorials are useful. To help you find a tutorial that is right for you, we have prepared a list of three top JavaScript tutorial websites.

The Modern JavaScript Tutorial on comes with dozens of tutorials on JavaScript concepts, from the fundamentals of JavaScript to working with objects and using various data types. Each tutorial features extensive descriptions and code snippets to help you master the topic at hand.

The tutorials all flow in logical order — from beginner topics to more advanced ones — so you should have no trouble finding the resource for which you are looking.

MDN JavaScript — Dynamic client-side scripting Guide

The Mozilla Developer Network JavaScript guides are a great place to learn about JavaScript. Many of the guides are written for beginners to the language, introducing the JavaScript “building blocks” and other essential topics. But once you have mastered the basics, you can go on to find more advanced tutorials and reference documentation on this site.

W3Schools JavaScript Tutorials

W3Schools has a large library of JavaScript tutorials, covering the basics of JavaScript, working with the DOM, AJAX, and more. Each article comes with exercises you can play around with yourself in the browser, as well as code snippets you can use in your own work.

This site is a great place to go if you need a refresher on a particular concept. W3Schools is also worth checking out if you are starting to learn JavaScript from scratch and want to get a solid foundation in the language.

A Guide to Learning JavaScript

There is a lot you can learn about JavaScript because the language has evolved a lot over the years. Developers have found new ways of using the language. There are even frameworks that build upon JavaScript. But before you can move on to making advanced websites or exploring these frameworks, you need to have a solid understanding of the basics of JavaScript.

Below is a list of a few topics you need to know about when you start learning JavaScript.

  • Using JavaScript: What is JavaScript? How does this technology change web pages? You should be able to answer both of these questions before you start coding. You should also learn the basics of JavaScript syntax.
  • Variables and Data Types: You should learn about the basic data types used in JavaScript. You will also need to know about the three types of variables: let, var, and const.
  • Conditionals and Operators: Conditionals control the flow of a program. You should learn how to use the if/else statement and the main operators used with this statement.
  • Arrays: You should learn how to add, change, and remove items from an array. 
  • Loops: Loops help reduce the repetition in a program. You should feel comfortable using for, for/of, and for/in loops to loop through items in a list.
  • DOM: You need to know about the JS and HTML Document Object Model. You will use DOM methods to change the contents of a web page. For instance, you can use the DOM to add animations to a web page, create event listeners, or change CSS styles.
  • Functions: Spend some time reading up on JavaScript functions and how to pass data to and receive data from functions.
  • Working with Objects: Learn about how to declare and manipulate an object, and work with methods in an object.
  • Handling Errors: You should read about some of the more common JavaScript errors and how to fix them. You will probably learn more about this topic as you code in JavaScript because errors come up all the time in day-to-day coding.
  • AJAX: AJAX lets you show data on a web page after it has been initially loaded. You should learn about how AJAX principles are used in JavaScript and feel comfortable implementing AJAX web features.

The above list is by no means comprehensive. There is a lot you will need to know. As you learn the beginner concepts, you will slowly build a mental map of what you need to learn next to achieve your goals.

How Long Does it Take to Learn JavaScript?

You will be able to incorporate some JavaScript into a web page after an hour or two of learning the basics of JavaScript. To learn enough JavaScript to build more complex web applications, expect to spend at least three months learning. If you want to work in a job that requires knowledge of JavaScript, you will need at least six months of practice first.

While the basics of JavaScript are quite easy to learn, JavaScript is used in so many different ways that you could spend years studying the language. People who become web developers know that the technologies used for building websites do change and that new ways of using existing technologies arise. So, you can expect to be learning about JavaScript for your entire career; the learning journey never stops.

Should I Learn JavaScript?

Do you want to build websites? If the answer to this question is yes, then learning JavaScript is a great use of your time. Without JavaScript, most of the interactive features you see on the internet today—like elements that appear when you click buttons or boxes with images that automatically change—would not exist.

JavaScript was designed for front end web development. However, some frameworks such as Node.js let you use JavaScript on the backend of your application, too. This means you can code some of the logic behind your web application in JavaScript.

You need to take some time to ask yourself whether you want to learn JavaScript. Are you willing to spend months learning this technology, and even longer refining your skills? Are you absolutely sure you want to build websites? If so, then maybe learning JavaScript is a good choice for you.

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