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What Is More Important? Collecting Course Certificates or Skill Building?

What Is More Important? Collecting Course Certificates or Skill Building?

Unlike some traditional jobs, where you can simply complete an academic program or build your entire skill set after a few years in your trade, a programming career is never truly finished. Because technology is always evolving, and programming languages continue to emerge and evolve alongside new devices and platforms, even the most experienced programmers are always being pushed to learn new languages, techniques, and tools to stay ahead of the game.

This fundamental truth about programming is at the core of this week’s Ask SoloLearn question from the SoloLearn community. You want to know, “what is more important -- collecting course certificates or skill-building?” While an easy short answer is doing both, the truth is that building skills are actually a fundamental part of completing courses to receive certificates -- but skill building is also done outside of coding classes too.

What Are Course Certificates, And Why Are They Important? 

Much like a diploma can show that you’ve completed a specific academic program, or a welder’s certificate can certify you have the training and knowledge necessary to be a professional welder, you should think of course certificates as proof you can use to demonstrate your knowledge or experience when applying for programming work.

At SoloLearn, you receive course certificates for working through the tutorials, quizzes, and coding challenges that make up a specific language course -- such as the Python Core course or Data Science courses. Because a course certificate requires that you both learn about the fundamentals of different languages and apply those fundamentals to actual live code or coding challenges, the process of learning about the languages will naturally build your skill base for one or more languages.

However, even though SoloLearn’s courses are meant to put you into a great position to jumpstart your programming career, the truth is that there are some skills that can only be gained from actually writing code and building things. 

What Are Other Ways To Build Skills Besides Completing Courses? 

Once you have finished a particular language course, the next step in skill building is to start working on an actual coding project -- either for yourself or as a hired developer for a company or startup that has a software need. Projects offer opportunities to add more talents to your repertoire because of their applied nature, such as:

Writing Code Collaboratively

While you may work alongside a fellow learner while taking a SoloLearn course or as you proceed through an academic coding program, working as part of a big development team for a corporation presents different challenges. From learning the value of documentation for your code, to having to jump into someone else’s code to fix bugs or build out more features, there are some elements of collaboration that you can’t add to your toolkit from a course alone.

Using Effective Tools For A Particular Language

Most coding classes focus on the fundamentals of learning a particular language, but many languages only reach maximum usefulness by including frameworks or specific tools that have been created to solve common problems (for example, the Rails framework that is very often used when writing code in Ruby). Learning about these tools (or other open-sourced products) often requires doing your own research, or learning from an experienced mentor or peer.

Finding Solutions To Bugs

While coding courses will often walk you through common bugs or challenges when using a specific language, the truth of the creative and ever-evolving nature of coding is that there are always new issues or bugs emerging (especially with so many different tech demands in fields from mobile apps to data science and everything in between). Learning to identify and fix these bugs on the fly comes from actual coding work.

Becoming A Full Stack Developer

Coding classes are certainly necessary to learn various languages for developing both back-end and front-end software, but learning how to integrate them often comes from your own experience building things. There aren’t many courses that will focus on different combinations of languages and how to integrate them (unless they are very similar), so this is another skill best learned outside of a course.

The bottom line is that both course certificates and external skill building are essential elements for your march toward becoming a higher-level software engineer. If you are a new programmer, compiling course certificates and focusing on the coding class side makes more sense -- you need to learn to walk before you can run, so to speak. However, once you have a good fundamental knowledge of a particular language, you will want to work with live code and start tackling different coding problems in real-world situations to truly broaden your skill set. So, like we said at the start, both collecting course certificates and skill-building are important for you to reach your goals as a developer!