Paid versus free coding courses


When it comes to learning software development, the question is whether or not you should choose one that you pay for that offers a diploma or opt for a free course that does not. Will a diploma get you a job quicker? Will a paid programme keep you on track? Generally, the typical response would be, “yes” to both of those questions. Today we look at paid versus free courses for potential coders.

Paid versus free courses

Free courses and paid courses both have their advantages. In a free course, you can learn for free, and it will allow you to learn specific languages. Free online programmes also allow a student to learn at their own pace. 

However, where it falls down is the lack of support, the lack of community, a lack of motivation, and the carrot of a diploma to keep you motivated. So while the benefit of being able to study at your own pace may sound enticing, this freedom can also result in the work not getting done and the study ceasing completely.

On the other hand, a good paid course that offers a diploma will often include support that will help the students get through the content and even help them find a job. A diploma is proof that the person has gained in-depth knowledge and is experienced enough to get a job. 


On a Code Institute programme, for example, a student is not just paying for the course content. They are paying for a full package. While free courses may have the content, they often lack human support. Generally, a good paid coding programme will have trained tutors and mentors who can assist students with course content or offer best-practice advice when designing a web page. 


While free courses can be very good, unfortunately, they do not offer much in terms of accreditation. Paid courses will generally have a diploma at the end for graduates, and this is what they work towards as students. Code Institute’s programme offers a university credit-rated diploma to its graduates. As already mentioned, this can be incredibly beneficial to job seekers, as it is proof of ability and standard of education to potential employers.

Project portfolio

Whether you are doing a free course or one that you pay for, building a portfolio is essential. For new developers, a portfolio of projects can act in lieu of work experience. It shows how creative a coder is. It can also show where you excel and where you don’t in terms of how you develop a site. For example, Code Institute’s programme does not require students to sit exams. Instead, each student must complete five portfolio projects, and they are graded based on the finished projects. In addition, each student is assigned a mentor that is made available to offer best-practice advice on each of the projects. 

Career Support

Often, students who opt for a paid programme have a career change in mind. Their goal is to change their career to programming, and paying for the support, and the high standards of a particular programme is what gets them through, but a good course won’t just stop at the teaching part. A good programme will have your career change in mind. For example, Code Institute’s programme has a career services team whose goal is to help students land their first career in software development. However, it doesn’t just stop there. The career support team is there for graduates even after they’ve landed their first job. 

Contextualised Learning

What should you learn next? Now that you’ve learned HTML, should you move straight to Python, Java or JavaScript? Or what about CSS? Often, the problem with free learning is that a learner may not necessarily know what to move on to next. However, with paid courses, your curriculum is laid out for you in a way that makes technical sense. Paid courses take away that fear of not knowing what you don’t know. 

Value mindset

Normally, a paid diploma course is more extensive and structured than free online courses. When a student invests in a programme of this nature, the likelihood of completing it can be higher because the investment itself adds value. There’s a mindset that makes people value something more because they’ve invested in it. 

Invest in yourself

Free coding courses certainly have their place. However, they are not for everybody. Many students need a support structure to get through a course, and a good paid course will offer this. 

Over the last year, Code Institute has invested over €1 million to ensure the best for its students. Their Career Accelerator Programme is there to get students and graduates into a new career that is suited to them quicker. 

If you’re interested in finding out more about our Full Stack Software Development programme, why not talk to one of our education advisors. Likewise, if you’d like to see how Code Institute teaches its students, then try our free 5 Day Coding Challenge through the form below. After just one hour a day over five days, you’ll learn the basics of HTMLCSS and JavaScript.

Game Developer Salaries: How much could I earn?

The video game industry is quickly growing and highly competitive, with millions of people playing and enjoying games regularly worldwide. As the demand for new and inventive games increases, so does the need for competent game creators. If you want to pursue a career in game creation, you should be aware of the potential game […]

How Much Do JavaScript Developers Make? 

JavaScript is an essential programming language popularly used to create dynamic web pages. Along with other front-end programming languages like HTML and CSS, JavaScript is used by developers to incorporate dynamic and interactive functionality into web pages and applications. But what is the average JavaScript developer salary? As one of the main front-end programming languages, […]

Seven signs that it's time to change careers

Choosing a career is one of the most significant decisions we make in life, and it can significantly impact our well-being and happiness. However, sometimes we may find ourselves in a job or industry that no longer fulfils us or aligns with our values and goals. It might be time for a change if you’re […]