Software developers are responsible for a lot of the great apps, programs, and plugins that we use daily. When we turn on our browser, when we write a review in Note, and when we take a break to play our favorite games. Each of the programs used required hours upon hours of input from one or more software developers. It’s an exciting and important career that is only becoming more in-demand as we become more reliant on our tech.
It’s also a field that is rapidly changing and evolving. It requires workers who aren’t afraid to continue their education long after leaving school. A software developer that doesn’t continue learning on an ongoing basis will quickly find their work and methods becoming outdated. But continuing that education doesn’t always mean going back to school. There are several excellent educational programs that operate entirely online and at very little cost.
Two options that we are very familiar with are Codecademy and freeCodeCamp. Both websites provide existing and aspiring software developers with an opportunity to perfect their craft. They offer courses on a variety of related subjects and have helped thousands of students to go on to better, higher-paying jobs. We highly recommend them to anyone interested in taking their career to the next level.
But which of the two should you choose if both are so great?
We’re here to help you make that decision. Let’s take a look at these two platforms, what features they have to offer, what courses they cover, and how their pricing structures differ.
Features Comparison: How Codecademy And freeCodeCamp Work
Both learning platforms operate with a similar premise. They provide students with a selection of online courses related to coding and software development. The courses are entirely digital, which means they can be completed by students anywhere around the globe without scheduling or transportation hurdles to overcome. Upon completion of courses, students are provided with certificates, which can be used to gain a competitive edge on their resumes.
With these similarities in mind, there are still some key differences between the two platforms. Below is an overview of their key features and what makes them unique.
1. Codecademy Features Overview
One of the most prominent features of Codecademy is the ability to sign up for “career paths”. These “paths” include a curated list of courses, modules, lessons, and other materials that are useful for students pursuing a specific career. Codecademy currently has six different career paths available for the following options:
- Front-End Engineering
- Back-End Engineering
- Full-Stack Engineering
- Computer Science
- Code Foundations
- Data Scientist
Any student that is interested in pursuing one of these specific careers should seriously consider investing in a Codecademy Pro account. Unfortunately, the career path feature is not available to free members. Each career path will take between 6 months and a full year to complete. The Code Foundations path is the exception to this rule as it is considered a general introductory path that is useful for students who still haven’t chosen a desired career.
As with the career paths, many of the great features offered by Codecademy are restricted to members of a specific plan. They offer a free plan, a Codecademy Pro, and a Codecademy Intensive. The Pro plan is the recommended option for students interested in getting the most for their dollar. It includes the majority of the learning features that Codecademy is known for, such as:
- Personal projects
- Access to community boards and channels
- Additional quizzes, exams, and learning materials
2. freeCodeCamp Features Overview
Unlike Codecademy, every aspect and feature of freeCodeCamp is designed to be accessed without payment. There are no monthly subscription fees or membership tiers that restrict content. All of the courses, quizzes, and projects are available to all students.
We believe that this pricing structure is one of freeCodeCamp’s best features and is certainly worth commendation. It allows all aspiring developers to learn and improve regardless of their budget. On the other hand, it does mean that they are lacking some of the flashy bells and whistles that similar platforms provide.
Another great feature of this platform is its willingness to help students find work after completing courses. In the past, freeCodeCamp would make an effort to connect students with non-profit companies. This would only happen after the student received a course certification. Today, they help connect certificate holders with open source development projects.
These career opportunities may not be the most lucrative, but that was never the point. This is a free education platform and they’ve always had a strong interest in helping the public. One way to do that is by encouraging students to utilize their skills for other non-profits.
This feature helps provide real-world work experience for new developers. That ultimately makes finding a job as a software developer much easier. You may not find it useful if you are already comfortable in your career, but they have helped many students further their careers and reach new goals.
Course Offering Comparison: What Can You Learn?
When comparing these two platforms, you’ll find a few areas where their courses overlap. For example, they both offer courses that focus on responsive web design. That makes sense considering it’s such an important coding subject that every web designer needs to cover at some point. However, each platform also offers unique courses like “Quality Assurance” or “Data Visualization with Python”.
Codecademy Course Offerings
This platform does offer a larger selection of in-depth courses. This is understandable, considering they earn quite a lot from their membership fees and can consistently expand their library. Here are some of the best courses that they have to offer.
- Java Tutorial
This is an introductory course that is offered with their free membership plan. It’s an excellent starting point for students interested in back-end web development, desktop programs, and even smartphone apps. It doesn’t require any previous understanding of the Java language or Object-Oriented Programming(OOP) in general. Students will build a total of seven different Java projects throughout the course and are offered a free certificate after completion.
- Learn Go
The field of programming is constantly shifting as new languages and syntax are introduced. Golang is one of the newest programming languages to surface. It’s a completely open-source language supported by Google. The course covers the basics of Golang, how to create and store variables, how to create functions, and how to implement Golang conditionals. Learning Golang now is a great way to get ahead of the curve and learn a new language as it’s becoming more in demand.
- Web Development
- Machine Learning
More companies than ever are beginning to utilize the power of machine learning. Google is already demonstrating how powerful machine learning can be used to provide the best possible search results. This course serves as an introduction to machine learning with Python serving as the fundamental programming language. It’s recommended that you pursue this course after having already completed a course on the basics of Python. Luckily, Codecademy offers one of those as well.
There may be fewer courses available at FreeCodeCamp, but the courses they do offer are all considered exceptional. However, unlike Codecademy, most of their courses are geared towards beginners. You’ll find a lot of introductory courses. Some of their courses may even cover similar information at certain points in the curriculum. But we believe that even experienced professionals can benefit from a refresher course at FreeCodeCamp. Here are a few of their best courses.
- Information Security
Protecting our data online is more important and more difficult than it has ever been. We are constantly providing our names, contact information, and credit card numbers to online stores. In this course, you’ll learn how to program apps with the purpose of protecting that information. It covers introductory concepts like HTTPS as well as more advanced components like DNS prefetching and client-side caching.
- Data Visualization
- Responsive Web Design
This has become one of the most important web development concepts of the 21st century. Websites designed to be responsive can detect the screen size accessing them and then adjust their layout using that information. Of course, this requires a fundamental understanding of HTML and CSS. This course serves as a great introduction to web design in general even if you aren’t already familiar with these concepts.
Can They Help You Get A Job?
Both of these platforms can boost employment opportunities through their certifications. Codecademy and FreeCodeCamp both offer certifications to students who fully complete a given course and any required projects or exams. These certificates can be used to show potential employers that you are continuing your education after school.
The certifications carry even more weight when pursuing online freelance developer work. Some online freelance platforms even have sections specifically dedicated to displaying certifications like these. Having them will help you stand out from the competition and secure bids at a higher rate.
Both platforms have a free membership option. However, with Codecademy, that free membership is fairly limited. It restricts access to certain features, courses, and certifications. If you’re serious about getting the most from their platform, then you’ll need to invest in the monthly subscription for $19.99.
By comparison, freeCodeCamp is completely free and never charges membership fees of any sort. The courses are available to all students and there are no features locked behind a paywall. There is an option to donate and we highly recommend doing so if you enjoy the courses they offer. Those donations are what keeps the website functioning and growing.
You Should Pick Codecademy If…
- You want a larger selection of unique courses
- You want courses that go more in-depth on the subject
- You want help outline a “career path” with the best available courses
- You don’t mind paying a monthly membership fee for the best features
- You want courses that focus on specific, niche languages like Golang
You Should Pick freeCodeCamp If…
- You’re a beginner interested in introductory courses
- You want to support a non-profit or work in the non-profit field
- You don’t want to pay a monthly fee for your courses
- You want a chance to practice what you’ve learned as soon as you’re certified
- You want to brush up on a specific subject before starting a membership at Codecademy