Learn JavaScript: The best free and paid online courses and tutorials

JavaScript makes the web go around.

JavaScript is the language of the web. It makes websites interactive, creates animations, draws data-driven graphics, and more. It even runs natively in your web browser so you don’t have to install it and you can get to coding right away. Alongside HTML and CSS, JavaScript is an essential language for any aspiring or current web developer.

JavaScript owes much of its versatility and usefulness to its many libraries and frameworks, which are tools that handle a lot of the heavy lifting in web development and coding. For instance, React.js is one library maintained by Facebook that helps build user interfaces. While jQuery can help you create animations and interactive features. This makes it all the more worthwhile to learn.

JavaScript is also the most popular coding language. According to the 2018 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, JavaScript has been the most used programming language by developers for six years in a row. Even with the recent rise of interest in Python, JavaScript has still earned the third-most web traffic to questions on Stack Overflow, a Q&A site for coding, since 2013.

stack overflow languages 2018 Dieter Holger/IDG

Here are the top 20 languages developers on Stack Overflow said they code with.

And due to JavaScript’s integration with web browsers, developers don’t need to worry about it going out of style anytime soon. In fact, new updates to JavaScript have simplified its code and made it more user-friendly.

Finally, there are the financial incentives. Front-end web developers in the U.S.—who commonly use JavaScript more than any other language—make an average of $103,780 a year, according to Indeed.

“JavaScript is an essential technology for the modern web. If you want to be a web developer, JavaScript is a non-negotiable,” says Julia Silge, a data scientist at Stack Overflow.

javascript of traffic chart Dieter Holger/IDG

Python may have quickly risen in recent years to attract the most traffic on Stack Overflow, but JavaScript has been consistently popular for longer.

Learn JavaScript online

In any case, if you want to create for the web you’re going to need JavaScript. Because of the close relationship between HTML, CSS, and the web, it’s useful to have a well-rounded skill set, and fortunately, most of the courses we recommend will have you code HTML and CSS as you learn JS.

There are a ton of online courses where you can get experience coding websites and apps. I’ve put together some of the best out there from a variety of sources. Some courses I tried myself, but others I selected based on their customer reviews, popularity, and breadth of material. With various lengths, difficulty levels, and specialization, you’re sure to find one that meets your particular needs.

Best free JavaScript courses

You can find many JavaScript tutorials, and even some classes, on YouTube for free. Here are my recommendations for the free offerings.

javascript30 Dieter Holger/Screenshot

The first eight days of projects awaiting you on JavaScript30.

JavaScript30

Pricing: Free

Difficulty level: Beginner

Length: 30 days, 30 minutes to 2 hours a day (25 hours total)

JavaScript30 earns its name by challenging you to finish 30 different projects over 30 days. Each tutorial comes as a video that explains concepts and then challenges you to code a project. The course was put together by Wes Bos, a veteran developer and teacher who has built software for numerous different companies. He says his philosophy for improving as a coder is to, “Build things. Lots of things. Build 1,000 things. Keep it up and don’t stop. Seriously.”

JavaScript Introduction from W3C

Pricing: Free

Difficulty level: Beginner

Length: 5 weeks, 6 to 8 hours a week (40 hours)

This edX course from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the University Côte d’Azur offers a great overview of JavaScript for complete beginners. In the course, you’ll learn how to make interactive websites, how to debug JavaScript code in your app or site, and the latest syntax for working with arrays, functions, and loops.

Programming for the Web with JavaScript

Pricing: Free

Difficulty level: Intermediate

Length: 4 weeks, 6 to 8 hours a week (32 hours)

The University of Pennsylvania also offers a free course for JavaScript on edX. Unlike other courses, this one expects you to have an understanding of concepts in programming such as variables, functions, and control flow as well as data structures such as arrays, lists, sets, and trees. So you should expect to get a much stronger grasp on programming in general while focusing on what JavaScript can do for the web.

w3c Dieter Holger/Screenshot

A course instructor will walk you through a series of interactive lessons.

Best paid JavaScript courses

Although there are a lot of free options out there, there are also quite a few affordable classes worth the small investment. After all, they don’t cost anywhere near as much as going to a university or expensive coding dojo. Some of them require a monthly fee and are typically longer, while the one-off courses tend to be shorter. Here are some of the best paid JavaScript courses I found online.

Web Design for Everybody

Pricing: 7-day trial, then $49 per month

Difficulty level: Beginner

Length: 12 weeks, 6 hours a week (72 hours)

This course from the University of Michigan on Coursera comes in a similar vein as its Python For Everybody course, though not quite as long. It’s still very comprehensive and recommends an entire three months to complete at six hours a week. Not only will you learn JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, but you’ll also learn the principles of web design and what makes the web run. One of the more essential things it covers is responsive web design, which teaches you to make websites viewable on mobile devices.

JavaScript Essential Training

Pricing: 1-month trial, then $25 per month

Difficulty level: Beginner

Length: 5 hours 15 minutes

If you’re looking for a short and sweet introduction to JavaScript, here it is. This course from Lynda.com promises to teach you the essentials of JavaScript through a series of “mini projects.” Not only will you go over the basics of programming, including loops, closures, and DOM scripting, but you’ll even get introduced to JavaScript libraries. That’s pretty impressive for a 5 hour and 15-minute course.

lynda.com javascript Dieter Holger/Screenshot

A Lynda.com instructor will give you step-by-step instructions for coding JavaScript.

Modern JavaScript From The Beginning

Pricing: $175 retail (but regularly discounted as much as 91% to $15)

Difficulty level: Beginner

Length: 21 hours 42 minutes

This course on Udemy teaches you pure JavaScript without relying on any libraries or frameworks. But it does go over the basics of APIs, or application programming interfaces, which allow you to pull data from sources like Google Maps and display it on a webpage. All in all, you can expect to get a pretty broad introduction from this course.

Programming Foundations with JavaScript, HTML, and CSS

Pricing: 7-day trial, then $49 per month

Difficulty level: Beginner

Length: 4 weeks, 3 to 7 hours a week (28 hours)

Here’s a shorter course on Coursera taught by instructors from Duke University. It goes over all the basics by teaching how to add interactivity on your own website with click effects and more. The final project even has you code a website where you can upload images and apply filters. So you’ll be well on your way to building your own Instagram!

duke university Dieter Holger/Screenshot

You’ll get to see JavaScript at work through an interactive portal.

Become a Front End Web Developer

Pricing: $999

Difficulty level: Intermediate

Length: 4 months, 10 hours a week (160 hours)

This nano degree program from Udacity is perfect if you’re looking to achieve a semi-professional level by the end of a single course. It promises to actually shape you into a web developer over a four month period. The course is incredibly comprehensive, and it’s also pricey at $1,000. But you’ll have the benefit of tutors while working alongside other students in a virtual classroom. Be warned: It’s not for complete beginners and does expect you to have a basic grasp on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. So you might want to take a shorter course first.

Is there a JavaScript course you think should’ve made the list? Email dieter_holger@idg.com and let us know!

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Dieter Holger

PC World (US online)
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