You (probably) Don’t Need a Bootcamp

Before we begin, we need to be clear – this article is not meant to dissuade you from attending a bootcamp. It’s to show you how you can become a developer without spending thousands of dollars to learn material that is readily available online for free, or at least incredibly cheaper than a bootcamp. The resources below are meant to match the teaching materials and experiences of a bootcamp (mock interviews, building with a team, etc.), but you’ll be lacking direct human contact for any questions you may have.

You also won’t have someone to look at your work, pointing out flaws that may arise in your code. This can hopefully be mitigated with the communities we list below.

The self-learning journey is long. But it’s definitely doable. Let’s dig into the resources.

What most bootcamps teach

If you look at a curriculum of a bootcamp, you’ll see a pattern - they’re teaching web development. It might look something like:

  • HTML & CSS
  • JavaScript
  • React
  • NodeJS
  • MongoDB

and so on. These topics can be learned freely, or for thousands of dollars less than what a bootcamp will cost you, and we’ll list the resources that we think are the best in this article.

One might argue about the community built around a bootcamp. You’ll meet people, making friends, and build connections as you go along. Well, we’re in the age of the internet. If you know where to look, you can build these same connections in your own freetime.

This article will equip you with the same resources a bootcamp will and also show you how to build connections in the massive software industry.

Enter Full-Stack Web Development

If you’re reading this article, it might be safe to assume you’re at least familiar with HTML & CSS. However, if you’re not, then you might head over to freeCodeCamp and complete the HTML & CSS sections.

When we hear full-stack development, JavaScript comes to mind. It can be written on the frontend, with it’s numerous libraries and frameworks, as well as on the backend with NodeJS. It’s easy! Learn this one programming language, and you can build just about anything with it.

It’s why bootcamps tend to be heavily JavaScript-focused. You can go from writing the frontend of a web application (e.g. React), to adding a backend (e.g. NodeJS) all with JavaScript.

We’re going to focus on a few courses to get you full-stack ready with JavaScript.

The Free Version

First up is a list of resources that are completely free. They’re incredible resources that should be used even if you have the financial means to attend a bootcamp or purchase any course(s) you want.


From Wikipedia: freeCodeCamp is a non-profit organization that consists of an interactive learning web platform, an online community forum, chat rooms, online publications and local organizations that intend to make learning web development accessible to anyone.

The material on freeCodeCamp is quite good, and will bring you from knowing nothing, to building complete web applications with APIs. There’s also a massive community behind it, so you’ll be able to get help easily as you progress through the track.

What you’ll learn
  • HTML & CSS
  • Fullstack JavaScript
  • Security
  • Python
  • and more!
The Odin Project

The Odin Project is similar to freeCodeCamp, but some of the curriculum is a bit different. For example, there are two tracks. One focuses on Ruby, the other focuses on JavaScript. Although the languages are different, the concepts remain the same, and after learning one language, you should be able to pick another one up quite easily.

What you’ll learn
  • HTML & CSS
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Full-Stack JavaScript
FullStack Open

From the landing page: Learn React, Redux, Node.js, MongoDB, GraphQL and TypeScript in one go! This course will introduce you to modern JavaScript-based web development. The main focus is on building single-page applications with ReactJS that use REST APIs built with Node.js.

What you’ll learn
  • React
  • NodeJS
  • GraphQL
  • TypeScript
  • Relational Databases

The Paid Version

These courses are created by Zero to Mastery and are top-tier material. The courses are guaranteed to be updated, which is incredible. Countless times creators on sites such as Udemy update the year in the course title, but don’t actually update the course contents, which can be frustrating if you’re a beginner.

You can get access to all of these courses for a $39/month subscription. And, because you’re a reader of ours, your first month comes with 10% off by using the code FRIENDS10.

Complete Node.js Developer in 2023

We’ve put this course at the top of the list because of how in-depth it is in regards to teaching you NodeJS. It’s not just a tutorial course, it goes into the theory behind NodeJS, explaining the inner workings, such as the event loop. Not only that, but you will build a complete web application, with user authentication, and more. It’s theoretical and practical. In conclusion, the course should make you a NodeJS expert by the end of it.

What you’ll learn
  • Build a MERN (MongoDb, Express, React, Node) fullstack app and deploy to production
  • Use Node JS to build production grade apps including REST APIs and GraphQL APIs
  • Learn how Node really works behind the scenes: event loop, blocking vs non-blocking code, streams, modules, etc.
  • And more!
Complete React Developer in 2023 (w/ Redux, Hooks, GraphQL)

This course is very comprehensive for learning React. It is a project-based course which will introduce you to the modern toolset of a React developer. Using React, Redux, React Hooks, GraphQL, Firebase, Stripe, and more, the project you will build is a functional e-commerce application similar to Shopify.

What you’ll learn
  • Build enterprise level React applications and deploy to production (using React 18!)
  • Learn the latest features in React including Hooks, Context API, Suspense, React Lazy + more
  • Use Redux, Redux Thunk and Redux Saga in your applications
  • Set up authentication and user accounts
  • And more!
Master the Coding Interview: Data Structures + Algorithms

You’ve got a solid grasp of web development and have two demo projects after the two previous courses. Now it’s time to learn about Data Structures and Algorithms. With this course, you will dive into some of the most common interview questions regarding algorithms and data structures. We’ve included this course as part of an interview preparation, as some bootcamps tend to include this as well.

What you’ll learn
  • Master commonly asked interview questions
  • Practice dozens of different challenges
  • Tackle common data structures used in web development
  • Use Javascript to solve challenging algorithms

Where to meet people

Our number one recommended resource is Chingu Cohorts. The idea is simple. You apply, and you’re paired with a team (if you’re accepted), which is chosen by experience level, so it’s good for both beginner and advanced developers. Then, you build a real project with real deadlines and expectations. So, if you’ve done some of the courses listed in this article, now is a great time to put your skills to use – in a team environment.

By the way, it’s completely free!

If you’re just looking to chat with other developers, then Facebook groups, Discord servers, and subreddits are great options.

Extra resources


LeetCode is a platform to help you enhance your skills, expand your knowledge and prepare for technical interviews. Most of the questions you will be asked during an interview setting will be found on LeetCode. It’s definitely worth spending some time on this website.

Tip: Most interviewers will only ask you easy to medium difficulty questions.

Real Interview Practice

Most bootcamps will perform mock interviews with you. Again, this article is meant to equip you with the same resources.

Welcome to Pramp, where you can get tech interview practice, for free! Hone your interviewing skills, learn from your peers, and become comfortable performing under pressure within an interview setting.

Complete Web Developer in 2023: Zero to Mastery

If you want to skip all of the courses outlined above, and jump right into all of the fundamentals of web developement, then this course is for you (especially if you prefer to learn from videos). The Complete Web Developer course will take you from “absolute beginner to getting hired as a developer”. It will teach you how to build full-stack web applications using React and Node.js, and so much more.

What you’ll learn
  • Learn React + Redux to build rich front end applications
  • Use NodeJS to write server-side JavaScript
  • Use Express, SQL and PostgreSQL to create fullstack applications that scale
  • Build your own full stack websites and applications
  • Master beginner and advanced JavaScript topics
  • Build 10+ real world Web Development projects you can show off on your portfolio

Get 10% off for any of the membership plans by using the code FRIENDS10.

That’s it!

This list of courses will help you jump right into web development, enabling you to build fully-functional web applications, work in a team (if you decide to go with Chingu Cohorts), develop your interview skills, and get a job in the field.

Don’t forget to check out our reading list.

Disclosure: ZTM, or Zero to Mastery, is an affiliate of ours. If you click on ZTM links and make a purchase, we will receive a small commission. However, do keep in mind that we will only recommend products (books, courses) that we have personally enjoyed and have found useful.

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