Is Codecademy Pro worth it? — Codecademy Pro Review
Note: This article contains affiliate links. This review comes from a genuine place and is not to serve as a biased endorsement of the product.
I’m a big fan of Codecademy, the free version, but I started to get curious about the Codecademy Pro features and whether they are worth it.
The free courses are top notch and they’ve been a staple in my learning regiment for a long time.
But Pro offers features that, on the surface, don’t look like that big of an upgrade from the free version. After all, the free version already offers so much.
For a long time, I wasn’t willing to make the plunge. But, finally — I did!
In this review, I detail my experience maintaining a three-month streak with Pro and clocking many dozens of hours.
Spoilers: After starting with Pro, I interviewed for a career change, which did result in a new front-end engineering career at a major software company. More on that soon.
What features are in Codecademy Pro?
There are the Codecademy Pro features:
Extra classes, quizzes, and practice material.
Career Paths or “step-by-step” career roadmaps.
Portfolio projects and Kanban boards.
Certificates for all classes you complete.
In this review, I’m going to be talking the most about career paths because I think they are the biggest seller of Pro. For Community Support, you can always go to a free Facebook group. In addition, hands-on projects and quizzes are often within the career paths and advanced courses.
The Pro feature listing doesn’t tell you this: the features are tightly coupled. They are hard to discuss in isolation.
Is Codecademy Pro worth it?
Let’s get to the meat of the answer. I’ve created the following checklist to give you a sense for whether you want to move forward with Pro.
Codecademy pro is likely not worth it if…
You are a total beginner just getting a feel for programming. You are maybe not sure if you want to make this your career. You have competing obligations in your life and maybe you’re not ready to go ‘all in’ on making your career switch. If you’re trying to figure out where to go, Codecademy offers a free coding career sorting quiz.
The free courses are what you are interested in. When you’re working through the free courses and think “Great! This is exactly what I need,” then perhaps you would like to wait several months before you are ready for what Pro has to offer.
You don’t care about the certificates. Upgrading your resume is not a priority. Or maybe you feel like pieces of paper don’t really mean anything. Either way, if certificates are not a draw, certificates are not much of a perk.
You use Codecademy infrequently on the free version. If you are on the free version and you have not built a streak with Codecademy, it may be unlikely that you’ll have a streak once you pay for Pro.
Codecademy Pro is likely worth it if…
You want to learn more intermediate topics. Like most free offerings, Codecademy’s free version is geared toward beginners. But understanding concepts is only the beginning. Pro’s projects, intermediate courses, and career roadmaps aim to help you go beyond the initial concepts and help you improve as a programmer.
You’re serious about making a big career move. If you find yourself ready to go all in, Pro is probably one of the cheapest and most effective ways to put you on the fast track to your career change. What I love most about Pro is sitting down each day, opening the next lesson, and having confidence I am heading straight toward my goal.
You love putting new certificates on your resume and LinkedIn profile. This is me. As someone who already works at a software company, it is valuable to my manager to see that I am completing courses and upgrading my skills. I also just love collecting certificates. These things just motivate me, and if they motivate you too, it’s definitely a perk.
You want your hand held through the learning process. The Codecademy roadmaps walk you through every skill you need on the job in specific programming professions. If you want to sit down each day, day after day for months, and have confidence you are making progress toward your goals, Pro may be for you.
You want to stay up-to-date: Codecademy is constantly changing and updating itself for the latest technologies. You do not have to worry about learning stale content — ever.
Breakdown of Codecademy Career Paths
I admit: this feature is by-far the most appealing to me about Pro. Because if this feature is worth it, Pro has paid for itself. If Pro can offer a complete career roadmap that helps me go from zero to job-ready — then we basically don’t need bootcamps!
But I was skeptical of this feature. No matter how in-depth Pro’s landing page is, I had no way of knowing without diving into one of these paths on my own.
Career Paths claim to be a detailed roadmap to get you job-ready. But let's really dig into them and see what they're about.
Summary of Each Codecademy Career Path
Codecademy's premium service offers something called 'Career Paths' -- which is a complete education in a particular career.
The paths offered are…
Description: Master Python while learning data structures, algorithms, and more.
Est. Time: 20 weeks
Skills You Build: - Python - Data Structures - Command Line - Git
Description: Learn to analyze data, communicate findings, and draw predictions using machine learning. You also build portfolio projects to help you get the job.
Est. Time: 35 weeks
Skills You Build: SQL, Python 3, NumPy, pandas, matplotlib, scikit-learn, and more
Description: Learn to make sense of big data and prepare for an entry-level role as a data analyst.
Est. Time: 28 weeks
Skills You Build: Python 3, SQL, Pandas, NumPy, Matplotlib, Seaborn, SciPy
Description: By the end of this career path, you have a portfolio and interview skills to start a new career as a front-end engineer.
Est. Time: 350 hours
Description: Begin with programming servers and client-side interfaces and learn to design databases.
Est. Time: 4 months
Skills You Build: Node.JS, Express.JS, PostgreSQL, TDD, Back-End, SQL, Design Patterns
Description: Start with the front-end development and progress to the back-end development. Then, you connect the two.
Est. Time: 6 months
How to Pick a Career Path
Codecademy helps you select a career path with a free sorting quiz. The quiz is more of a personality quiz and is especially helpful if you are a beginner wanting to learn how to code but don’t know how to narrow your skillset.
The ‘sorting quiz’ is fun and reminds me of the sorting hat from Harry Potter. The sorting quiz was not helpful for me since I knew where I was headed.
Inside One Career Path: Front-End Engineer
Upon signing up and clicking into the Front-End Engineer career path, I went into a brief moment of shock. The interface is b e a u t i f u l and I will explain why right now:
The image above shows the outline of an entire lesson of the career path. What's beautiful about it? The differences in kind.
The lesson, "React, Part 1" is not light and is composed of several hours worth of video, diagrams, interactive challenges, quizzes, and projects.
Quizzes after every lesson is great design. It forced me to recall, which is one of the most powerful ways to remember information. After all of these interactive exercises and quizzes, there's a project -- and keep in mind -- this is a tiny portion of the career path. These career paths are packed with hands-on coding.
On top of this, I've downloaded the Codecademy app, which gives you quizzes based on how far you are in the lessons. You can refresh your knowledge at the grocery store or when you wake up in the morning.
Throughout my three-month streak with Codecademy Pro, I collected a total of 8 certificates:
Most of these certificates come simply from following the Front-End Engineer career path. Career paths are other premium and free Codecademy courses all bound together.
If you’re not interested in the career paths provided, you can create your own curriculum with the courses that Codecademy provides.
As of writing this in July 2021, Codecademy does not give you certificates as you progress through the career paths, but if you jump into the corresponding courses, your progress will automatically be loaded.
Often, you simply have to mark the course as complete to get your certificate.
For example, if you complete the HTML section of your front-end career path, you have to ‘start’ and ‘complete’ the separate HTML course. Because you did the same material already, you don’t have to duplicate the work.
These certificates were great; I listed them on my resume to detail a clear story that I was continuing to brush up on modern web development skills.
Codecademy Pro offers portfolio projects in the form of Kanban boards. You drag and drop tasks and complete them solo, much like you would at a real job.
This recent addition is not something you can get in the Free version. With Codecademy, much of its criticism is that the courses put you on rails, making you complete work in a granular checkbox fashion.
But in the real world, you need to think. To learn, you must apply concepts to your own projects.
Codecademy solves this problem with portfolio projects. If you complete a career path like the front-end engineer path, you can walk away with a complete portfolio as well.
Can You Get the Job with Codecademy Pro? (I did.)
After using Codecademy Pro for several months and dozens of hours, I got 52% through the Front-End Engineer career course and accepted a job offer for a front-end engineer position at a major software company — a dream job at a dream company.
Did Codecademy Alone Help Me Get the Job?
Do I think Codecademy alone got me the job?
Of course not.
Do I think it played a big role in getting the job?
It absolutely did.
Consistency — that was what made Codecademy worth it for me.
Every day, no matter how tired I was after my full-time job, I was able to commit to my streak of at least one line of code. I committed to learning one new thing every day, which compounded over time. Since I had a curriculum, I did not have to strain my mind any more than necessary to ramp up.
Coding with Codecademy every day made me more confident in interviews. It allowed me to make votes toward my identity, which I talk about in my article how to become a programmer.
And I did get the job.
It is reasonable to be cynical of Codecademy: it makes learning so step-by-step and so simple that I can question whether it is the true, deep learning necessary to be the deep problem solver that employers are looking for.
How Codecademy Helped Me Get the Job
Here’s how Codecademy helped me get the job:
I interviewed better: Codecademy gave me the tools to talk intelligently about many different technologies in my interviews.
I got running with new technologies: Codecademy allowed me to quickly grasp fundamentals so that I could run with them.
I built muscle memory: Codecademy allowed me to write code and develop essential muscle memory for coding interviews.
I got better at coding interviews: Codecademy went deep into data structures and algorithms, helping me think in a way that Leetcode challenges did not.
How Codecademy didn’t help me get the job:
Coding interview prep: I did Leetcode challenges.
Code reviews by real people: I sought feedback and debriefed with a mentor after coding interviews.
Resume writing and networking: I hired a career coach to help me with my resume, LinkedIn profile, and all aspects related to getting the interview.
Pro’s Pricing and 7-day Trial
This review details my own experience with Codecademy Pro.
Wherever you are in your journey, know that you can take advantage of a 7-day trial, and you can always go back to the free version if you find that Pro isn’t worth it.
Codecademy Pro is $19.99 a month with a yearly subscription.
Codecademy Pro is $39.99 a month with a monthly subscription.
You can get the cost down of Codecademy Pro.
Here’s how I did it:
I got the cost discounted by using the Rakuten cashback program. Cashback programs work much like coupons, only there is no coupon code and you do not realize the savings instantly. To use Rakuten, you install a browser plug-in.
Codecademy always offers a deal with Rakuten, though the deal can vary. As of this writing, Rakuten offers 7.5% cashback for Codecademy Pro, which is cash that you can transfer straight to your bank account with PayPal.
If you sign up with Rakuten cashback using my promo code, you get a $30 welcome bonus (bonus may vary) after you make your first qualified purchase. That is significant savings without waiting for a sale.
Codecademy does offer sales on rare occasions.
To demonstrate the rarity: over the last year, as of this writing in July 2021, there was one sale in December 2020 for 25% off and one sale in March 2021 for 20% off.
If you want to wait for a sale, get on Codecademy’s email list and have strong patience, since the sale may not come for some time.
Is the Cost of Pro Worth It?
At $19.99 per month, Pro is substantially cheaper and higher quality than any other self-serve learn-to-code service that I have seen on the internet.
For comparison, purchasing a single course on Machine Learning at Coursera costs $79 while Pro offers an unlimited catalog.
At Udemy, you commonly see sales for courses at around $12.99. These courses are video only — not interactive, not with quizzes, and not with guided portfolio projects. It is common to form a Udemy addiction, where you might continue to buy a library of courses on various things, easily costing more than Codecademy without the gamified qualities that help you stick with it and actually learn.
But, Codecademy is not the cheapest. There are free ways to learn. freeCodeCamp also offers interactive courses and free video lessons on YouTube. However, freeCodeCamp doesn’t stay as up-to-date and can have more verbose exercises without the quizzes to glue it together.
The free version of Codecademy is also solid and may be all you need for the time being.
But for me, Codecademy was worth it many times over. My readers tell me that they long for a bootcamp for the intermediate learner. They want something that will hold their hand but also skip what they already know. They are not total beginners, but they want a path. That’s Codecademy Pro.
With that said, I hope you found this review helpful. If you’re still exploring what resources you need to help you learn, I have compiled over 70 free learning resources you may love as a budding programmer. I look forward to seeing you in that article. 👋 😁