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Where to learn coding in Toronto

Learning to code is the skill of the hour for young professionals the world over, and Toronto is no slouch when it comes to choices in where to learn. From quick-hit, drop-in classes to full-time coursework that eats up around two months, there is a variety of options for anyone either interested in coding or forced to learn it thanks to the changing nature of the economy. To help you decide which class best suits your needs, we rounded up some of the best options in town and did the homework for you.
  1. HackerYou
What and where: Housed above the Urban Outfitters on Queen Street West, HackerYou is the go-to for anyone looking for intensive programs that solidifies your grasp of the coding world’s basics. A combination of engaging mentors and project-based coursework have given HackerYou excellent name-brand recognition, while small class sizes ensure that stragglers are able to get the attention they need.
Commitment: Part-time courses are 39 hours long, split up between Monday and Wednesday evenings over a month and a half for an early bird fee of $2, 300. Full -time courses stretch over 9-weeks and an early bird rate of $7, 500.
Recommendation: Best suited to those looking to earn a hyper-versatile skill upgrade or jump into a new industry, HackerYou’s Front-end Web Development Immersive is more comprehensive than other alternatives.
  1. BitMaker
What and where: Classes are hosted above BitMaker’s King Street West offices just next to the Royal Alexandra Theatre, and usually feature some sort of snack or complementary coffee. Talented tutors tend to be monopolised by weaker students in class, but classes accordingly take a more leisurely pace to ensure that everyone is able to keep up.
Commitment: With the greatest variety of the list, BitMaker sometimes offers bite-sized weekend boot camps for under $200, but more often than not these barely cover the essentials. Part-time courses stretch out over the course of three months for $2, 500, while nine week intensives in web development are also available for a hefty $9, 000.
Recommendation: BitMaker’s sessions tend to feel like that one university course where half the cohort is deeply invested and the other half is required to take it—it’s best suited for those of us getting into coding with finite and definite goals, like launching an online store or giving your website a facelift.
  1. Camp Tech
What and where: Nestled cosily in the Centre for Social Innovation on Spadina, Camp Tech is better known for classes introducing you to business blogging and Adobe InDesign than web development. That being said, Camp Tech is excellent at breaking up larger concepts into easily digestible components, and its experienced instructors are good at pre-empting and dragging you away from your rookie mistakes.
Commitment: Camp Tech’s MO is to keep classes bite-sized and inexpensive, and their HTML and CSS for Beginners course stays on theme at just $199 for a six-hour session.
Recommendation: Camp Tech’s beginners course makes for a  perfect initiation for the completely clueless or those seeking to combine coding with blogging.
  1. Ladies Learning Code
What and where: Ladies Learning Code was born in 2011 to encourage more girl power in a generally male field, and since then it’s led to even more progressive chapters like Girls Learning Code and Kids Learning Code. Strong on community and big on collaborative learning, This not-for-profit is also HackerYou’s neighbour and features similarly small class sizes for your optimal benefit.
Commitment: A part-time, twice-a-week, seven week program eases you into a whole range of digital tools for just $925.
Recommendation: Ideal for  those of us who get pre-emptively stressed out about learning something new, Ladies Learning Code is a hassle-free environment that’s also good for someone looking to learn coding out of interest, as opposed to in pursuit of directed or immediate personal gain.
  1. Lighthouse Labs
What and where: Just under three years in age, Lighthouse Labs focuses on adapting your web development techniques to suit your own community’s needs from its welcoming office just south of King Street on Spadina Avenue. Case-in-point—most of its students in-class projects are on display on the main site, from advanced email filters to games and score trackers for sports.
Commitment: Introductory courses take six weeks and cost $1, 500, while advanced web development boot camps take two months and match BitMaker’s price tag of $9, 000.
Recommendation: A solid choice for beginners and intermediate coders alike, Lighthouse Labs’ courses are best suited for those already convinced that their next enterprise is app-related or those seeking a specialty in designing for iOS.
  1. BrainStation
What and where: Creator-focused BrainStation is slightly west of Spadina Avenue on King Street and boasts courses that teach both development and user experience design. Even better, they often feature standalone workshops and free drop-in info sessions so that you can dip your toes in the web development pool without committing fully.
Commitment: Part-time or full-time, courses at BrainStation uniformly run for 10 weeks. Part-timers pay $2, 200 for evening classes on weekday while full-timers shell out $8, 000 for the fully immersive experience.
Recommendation: The ad-hoc weekend classes and info sessions are best for hobby coders and those still doubtful about the industry, but the full courses are ideal for those who already know they will need marketing chops in addition to HTML savvy for upcoming projects.
  1. Red Academy
What and where: This import from Vancouver is currently nestled between Spadina and Portland on King Street. While it catches up to the full operations of its home branch, Red Academy’s Toronto campus is currently  offering foundational courses that will prepare you for eventual specialisations.
Commitment: Stretched out over 20 sessions in 10 weeks, courses cost just under $1, 900 and set up an impressive groundwork for wherever your coding career is to go.
Recommendation: A lack of full-time and advanced courses tells us that Red Academy still hasn’t completely come into its own in Toronto, but their current syllabus is a hit for anyone who wants all the basics without committing to day-long sessions.
  1. Coffee & Code or DevOps on Meetup
What and where: Locations vary with each different session, but there are more than a few code-friendly groups on Meetup, the app that lets you connect with different interest groups in your location.
Commitment: Coffee & Code meet thrice a week in different cafes to foster a community amongst those just starting out in code, while the DevOps crew meets monthly at a location only revealed to group members to discuss industry trends and concerns.
Recommendation: Ideal occasions for you to show up and troubleshoot your own particular difficulties with coding, the communal nature of every gathering will ensure that you stay in touch with the subject and make lasting ties with others who are passionate about it too.
  1. Bonus feature: Hatch
What and where: The only academy on this list aimed at children, Hatch’s headquarters are north of Lawrence on Yonge Street. They teach in cycles of eight classes, resulting in a Showcase Project at the end of the cycle, giving students the chance to develop games and items from their own imagination.
Commitment: Classes are offered thrice a week and there are two modes of payment—committing to six months of attendance costs $125 per month, while  the monthly fee without a set commitment costs $150.
Recommendation: The saying goes that you should start them young, but Hatch’s engaging syllabus and laid-back approach to teaching coding make programming classes a genuinely enjoyable—and increasingly practical—alternative to ballet and basketball lessons for the little ones.

Vibhu Gairola--or just Vibz--is a freelance writer and editor with a flair for the details. Currently based in Toronto, he has previously lived in Singapore and India, which has given him a soft sport for cultural, design and urban trend reporting. His work has appeared in Toronto Life, The Toronto Star, Reader's Digest and W Dish, and he's gone by Vibz for so long that some friends routinely forget how to spell his legal name. Follow him on Instagram or Twitter at @v_ibz
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