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freeCodeCamp Review [2022]: Pros, Cons & Alternatives

Posted in Review
freeCodeCamp Review

Learn to code for free, build portfolio projects, and earn certifications through freeCodeCamp. The site maintains an inventory of 8,000 free online programming tutorials and courses for programmers and developers who want to upskill. While some freeCodeCamp reviews cite a somewhat clunky interface and sink-or-swim platform, it’s also run by a non-profit organization that just wants to teach.

Instructors

3/5

Courses

5/5

Experience

3/5

Total

3.75/5

At-a-glance:

  • freeCodeCamp is a non-profit organization that promotes learning first and foremost.
  • Most freeCodeCamp tutorials are brief, specific, and non-interactive, walking you through a single principle or concept.
  • Certifications from freeCodeCamp are interactive collections of exercises that walk you through programming fundamentals.
  • The classes in freeCodeCamp can be very difficult for beginners, but they’re excellent for tenacious learners with a programming background.
  • freeCodeCamp is one of the few platforms that support non-English learners and has direct support for learners worldwide. 

Our freeCodeCamp review will discuss everything you need to know about freeCodeCamp courses, certifications, and whether it’s worth it.

What is FreeCodeCamp?

freeCodeCamp is a free repository of online, interactive programming lessons and tutorials. However, to call them lessons or courses may be overselling them. Most of freeCodeCamp’s “lessons” are just brief tutorials. 

Meanwhile, freeCodeCamp’s certification paths are a series of numbered exercises. While they are technically learning plans — each subsequent exercise builds on the knowledge of the previous exercise — they aren’t the multimedia affairs you might be used to through Coursera or Udemy.

freeCodeCamp most accurately compares to Codecademy. freeCodeCamp gets you programming as quickly as possible by giving you a series of exercises and hoping you can figure them out. Because of that, some exercises may be repetitive… but you will eventually build a strong portfolio in whatever discipline you choose. 

In many respects, you could consider freeCodeCamp as a Codecademy with a larger content inventory but less usability. While freeCodeCamp is free to use, users might find it impenetrable due to the clunky platform.

So, what can you learn on freeCodeCamp? The platform has almost every programming language and discipline within its archives, but not all provide certification. The most popular paths including certification include:

Responsive Web Design

Create beautiful, responsive web designs with this project-based tutorial. By the end, you’ll have created a portfolio project for front-end web development.

JavaScript Algorithms and Data Structures

Dig deeper into the algorithms and data structures of JavaScript. Intended for those who already have some working JavaScript or programming knowledge.

Front End Development Libraries

Find out more about the front-end development libraries that can make your job easier. Intended for those with intermediate knowledge of front-end development.

Data Visualization

Dig deeper into data visualization, mining, and use. Find out how to visualize data in meaningful ways.

Back End Development APIs

Develop and maintain packages with NPM. This course leans on JSON, MongoDB, and the basic principles and foundations of developing APIs (Application Layer Interfaces).

These courses are rigorous and specific. Beginners will fare better on Codecademy, while FreeCodeCamp has more advanced, specific, and niche courses than most other programming repositories.

Is freeCodeCamp Accredited?

freeCodeCamp does provide some shareable certificates, but it is not an accredited program. In fact, it’s hard to say it is a lesson plan, course, or program. Instead, consider freeCodeCamp a repository of tutorials more than anything and use it to create a solid portfolio.

Who Should Use freeCodeCamp? Is freeCodeCamp Legit?

It’s hard to be more “legit” than completely free courses. The reality is freeCodeCamp is an excellent secondary learning tool for those going through free online bootcamps or other programming certification paths.

But two things hold freeCodeCamp back:

  • Usability. Even for programmers and engineers, freeCodeCamp is difficult to use and navigate. Most of this is just down to the clunky UI.
  • Content. freeCodeCamp isn’t a continuous lesson plan or learning path; rather, it’s a series of exercises.

But that’s not to say that even a complete beginner can’t learn programming through FreeCodeCamp. And it’s not to downplay the extraordinary utility of FreeCodeCamp’s archives. In FreeCodeCamp, you can learn very niche skills, and you can learn them thoroughly. 

While the exercises may appear repetitive or redundant, that’s essential; there may be no better repository for those looking to ace technical interviews and programming questions. At the same time, that only counts for the certification paths; you mostly just get tutorials outside of the certification paths.

Is freeCodeCamp Worth It to Get a Job?

Yes and no. freeCodeCamp can get you a skills-based position. If you need to learn Python to get a job, freeCodeCamp can help. But if you need job credentials, freeCodeCamp isn’t likely to deliver.

Is a freeCodeCamp Certificate Worth Anything?

It can’t hurt. While employers might not recognize “freeCodeCamp,” a certificate still shows your dedication and initiative to learn. The platform’s portfolio projects will be more valuable than its certificates, but you can generally earn them through the same courses and paths.

Is freeCodeCamp Good for Employers?

For employees, freeCodeCamp may have limited utility. But employers may like freeCodeCamp as a resource for continued learning, as the platform provides thousands upon thousands of learning exercises completely for free. Employees who walk through the basic, intermediate, and advanced exercises will brush up and improve upon their programming skills.

How to Sign Up for and Use FreeCodeCamp

FreeCodeCamp’s exercises are delivered as sets of exercises. Because the platform is completely free, you don’t need to sign up. Click on a course, then a header, and you’ll immediately see a new exercise.

Screenshot of the freeCodeCamp page.

While freeCodeCamp is very similar to Codecademy's interface, you can immediately see that the experience is a little claustrophobic. To the left, there are instructions for the exercise. Your code goes in the middle. And to the bottom, there are the results of your code. 

The system checks whether you’ve fulfilled the given initiatives as you write and compile your code.

Screenshot of freeCodeCamp’s checking.

The entire system is automated. There aren’t any instructors or other students you will directly interface with. So, if you get stuck, you may need to do some of your research online.

Discounts for FreeCodeCamp: How Much Does freeCodeCamp Cost?

While some sites talk about discounts for FreeCodeCamp, there aren’t any; everything is free. A non-profit organization has provided the lessons, tutorials, and exercises; you don’t even need to create an account to start programming today. 

This is the major advantage of freeCodeCamp. But Codecademy similarly has completely free lessons with a more robust interface.

freeCodeCamp Review: How Worthwhile is freeCodeCamp?

We’ve repeatedly pointed out that freeCodeCamp doesn’t provide any real credentials, but that might not be that big of a deal. The core issue is that, while there are certification paths through freeCodeCamp and you can definitely learn a programming language, there’s really no way to prove your expertise. 

To get the most out of freeCodeCamp, you should create a portfolio based on the exercises and really absorb the content. freeCodeCamp can easily help you pass a technical interview, but it can’t help you get interviewed unless you take the time to build your portfolio or your Github repositories.

freeCodeCamp Certification Paths

As we noted before, there are freeCodeCamp certification paths. But getting those certifications is just a matter of clearing the given exercises and then claiming the certification.

Screenshot of the certification process in freeCodeCamp.

Here, you can see why the portfolio project is actually so much more important than the certification. To get the certification, you just have to fill out an academic honesty policy and report that you’ve completed the project—not very useful.

But by going through the above certification path, you will have created five essential portfolio projects. freeCodeCamp provides a structured method for completing exercises and projects to help you develop your programming skills.

Tips for Finding the Best Courses on FreeCodeCamp

Some courses are simple; they’re just collections of a dozen exercises. Other courses may have hundreds of exercises. Unlike Udemy or Coursera, freeCodeCamp courses aren’t rated by students or searchable via popularity. You need to know what you want to find the best courses on freeCodeCamp.

Let’s say you wanted to learn JavaScript. You can search for “JavaScript” on FreeCodeCamp. The first thing you’ll find is that the JavaScript tutorials are very specific:

Screenshot of JavaScript classes.

freeCodeCamp concentrates on specific, actionable skill sets. You can also see when the course was posted and what it’s about before starting it. Most of these are just tutorials, not interactive lessons. They aren’t even exercises, although they will teach you the basics.

If you want in-depth, interactive courses, you must go to the front page of freeCodeCamp and select its certification paths. These will link you to various interactive exercises and chapters that provide a more robust framework for learning.

freeCodeCamp: Pros, Cons, and User Reviews

Pros

Cons

  • A great repository of tutorials for specific programming tasks
  • Fairly robust sets of exercises for learning more about front-end and back-end development
  • Entirely free and non-profit
  • A little intimidating
  • Requires a lot of initiative
  • Doesn’t necessarily matter to employers

PCMag rated freeCodeCamp as a 4 out of 5, similar to Codecademy. What freeCodeCamp loses in terms of credentials and usability, it gains back because it is completely free and has such depth of content. Those who are driven can start programming right out of the gate and develop their own applications within hours. Those who need instruction may feel completely lost and struggle to do anything for days.

Most users review freeCodeCamp very highly. Those stuck can turn to Reddit, Quora, or other communities. In many respects, the programming community prizes self-taught individuals, so freeCodeCamp fits right into the ethos.

Alternatives to freeCodeCamp

Obviously, the most direct alternative to freeCodeCamp is Codecademy, which offers free courses, too. And while Coursera, Udemy, and edX also provide programming classes, freeCodeCamp is more analogous to platforms like the Odin Project and SkillCrush.

 

FreeCodeCamp

Codecademy

Odin Project

Skill Crush

Classes

8,000

1,800+

3 Paths

5 Courses

Students

217,000

45 million

500,000

Cost

Free

$39/month

Free

Free

Codecademy: A More User-Friendly freeCodeCamp

Codecademy screenshot. A paid version of FreeCodeCamp.

File: Codecademy.png, Alt: Codecademy screenshot. A paid version of FreeCodeCamp.

Codecademy provides a similar experience to freeCodeCamp, as a collection of exercises that helps students start learning right away. Codecademy has a larger user base and is generally better known, but it’s also a paid service. The caveat is that a lot of the programming lessons and tutorials are available completely free.

The Odin Project: Free Web Development Curriculum

Odin Project Screenshot. A web development curriculum.

File: Odin Project.png, Alt: Odin Project Screenshot. A web development curriculum.

The Odin Project is a free, open-source curriculum designed specifically for web development. Covering full-stack web development from start to finish, the Odin Project is a great choice for those who want to develop portfolios using a slick, easy-to-use format. The platform includes multiple career paths, starting with programming basics and later covering more advanced topics like finding work.

Skill Crush: Start Coding for Free

A targeted free coding camp.

File: Skill Crush.png, Alt: A targeted free coding camp.

Skill Crush provides a free coding camp, which walks students through HTML, CSS, design, UX, JavaScript, and even what it’s like to work in the industry. Skill Crush targets those who need something a little more focused than just disambiguated lessons and classes. If you find Codecademy and freeCodeCamp a little “directionless,” Skill Crush can help.

Conclusion: Is freeCodeCamp Worth It?

freeCodeCamp is best as a supplement to a more rigorous program, such as a free coding bootcamp. At its core, freeCodeCamp is a repository of training exercises that teach you to program better. 

Bottom line of our freeCodeCamp review?

If you’re driven and can learn and study on your own with ease, freeCodeCamp is a great choice. But if you need more instruction, freeCodeCamp isn’t your solution.

Curious about other learning platforms for programmers? 

Check Out Our Udemy Review

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Reliable is freeCodeCamp?

freeCodeCamp has a wide variety of lessons and tutorials which are very current and accurate. As a non-profit organization run by volunteers, any issues or errors with certification paths or classes get corrected quickly. 

2. Is freeCodeCamp Enough to Get a Job?

freeCodeCamp will give you the tools you need to perform a job, but it may not necessarily get you a job. In essence, you need to develop a portfolio and your skills first—saying that you are alumni of freeCodeCamp won’t give your resume any bonus points.

3. Is the freeCodeCamp Curriculum Good?

It would be stretching to call it a curriculum. freeCodeCamp primarily consists of niche and specific tutorials with broader and more rigorous certification paths. However, even the certification paths are composed mainly of exercises you must walk through on your own.

4. Is a freeCodeCamp Certificate Worth it?

The experience of acquiring a freeCodeCamp certification and building a portfolio with it is worth it. Still, the certificate will not likely get you a job or impress an employer. 

5. Is a freeCodeCamp Certificate Free?

The most significant advantage of freeCodeCamp is that the platform is free, and you can get started anytime. It’s self-driven and self-taught, so you can do a few exercises a day or even just one activity a week.

6. Is a freeCodeCamp 2022 Worth It?

It’s worth the time to go through freeCodeCamp to improve your skills, upskill, learn a new language, or even just check in on something you don’t know how to do. But it will not get you a job without significant work.

Jenna Inouye

Jenna Inouye

Jenna Inouye has been a full stack developer for two decades, specializing in web application design and development. For the last eight years, she has worked as a news and feature writer focusing on technology and finance, with bylines in Udemy, SVG, and The Gamer. View all posts by the Author

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