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How long does it take to learn JavaScript?

Some can learn JavaScript in a couple of months while others need years to grasp the subject. How long does it take you to learn JavaScript? This really depends. Let’s try to break it down.

What skills do you need before you can start learning JavaScript?

Some courses say you can start with JavaScript without any prior knowledge of another syntax. The reality is that these courses usually start by teaching you the basics of HTML and CSS. Let’s quickly summarize those subjects.

What is HTML?

HyperText Markup Language or HTML is a technology that makes up the structure of a webpage. The structure of a web page is split up into different elements. 

Learning this shouldn’t take you more than a couple of weeks.

What is CSS?

Cascading Style Sheets or CSS is a technology that shows how HTML elements are rendered on a webpage. This language is usually written in a separate stylesheet that is connected to an HTML document.

This will probably take you about a month depending on how much you are drawn to design.

Some basic knowledge of computer systems will also go a long way because you will be able to put things into perspective when you start learning JavaScript.

What goals do you want to achieve?

Your goals can vary because of the versatility of JavaScript. I like to split up JavaScript into three main categories.

Front-end

JavaScript controls almost all the interactions that a user can perform on a web page. When you click a button to open a menu for example. Front-end development is the process of developing the front-end of a website or application. 

This usually involves combining HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and other libraries to create a user interface. Just take a look at this roadmap created by Frontendmasters.

Roadmap front-end development
Roadmap front-end development

More than 50% of this roadmap contains some kind of JavaScript. You can keep learning forever if you want. The reality is that you only learn what you need. So keep that in mind while learning. If you are just setting up ab tests with JavaScript like me you will be done a lot faster.

Back-end

While most JavaScript is running in a browser. You can also create back-end applications with Node.js. This is an open-source runtime environment that executes programs outside the browser. 

I didn’t do a lot of back-end work myself. The hardest thing I created was a Twitter bot. A really good developer can build the entire back-end for big applications.

Back-end work requires knowing a lot more than just the syntax. Just learning JavaScript will not make you a back-end developer. It can take years before mastering this skill.

Applications

Then there are applications. In certain technology stacks, you will be able to build applications with JavaScript. This requires both front-end and back-end knowledge unless you work with a team.

Developers that can do this on their own are called full-stack developers. They can write front-end and back-end code. This also takes a lot of time to master.

How much time are you willing to spend per day learning JavaScript?

This is an important factor in the learning process. If you are working full-time and only have a couple of hours in the week to learn JavaScript it will probably take a long time to master. If you want to learn it faster you need to free up more time.

I have an inaccurate chart.

I made a graph that is not very scientific but it can give you an idea of the different skill levels you can reach.

How long does it take to learn JavaScript?
Inaccurate chart about learning JavaScript

I hope this gave you an idea of the amount of time needed to learn JavaScript! What you can take away from this is that JavaScript is not something that you can learn overnight. You should have a well-established goal and try to achieve that goal. JavaScript is a tool, not a job.