Codecademy to Teach 100,000 Unemployed Workers How to Code for Free

A woman codes on her computer in this illustration.
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You may qualify for free programming education if you’re one of the 40 million recently laid-off or furloughed workers ― or an owner of one of the thousands of businesses that have had to shutter.

Online education company Codecademy is providing 100,000 free pro-level memberships to those who are currently out of work due to the economic impact of the coronavirus. The free memberships last for three months.

“As recent unemployment numbers suggest, we are facing what may be the biggest economic disruption of our lifetime,” said CEO Zach Sims in a press release. “All of us – especially those whose livelihoods have been disrupted – should consider how we can continue to adapt our skill sets to an uncertain economy.”

Many people are turning to programming, a skill set often hailed as future proof.

To apply for a free Codecademy pro membership, you must meet one of the three basic criteria:

  • You are unemployed because you were laid off as a result of the coronavirus.
  • You are furloughed as a result of the coronavirus.
  • You had to close your business as a result of the coronavirus.

In the application, you’ll have 500 characters to explain your employment situation and 1,000 characters to share how a Codecademy pro membership will help you. 

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. If you’re approved, the company may ask for direct proof of your employment situation.

Codecademy offers several fully online programs. Basic memberships are free and include a slew of courses for individual programming languages including C++, CSS, HTML, Java, Python, SQL and Ruby, which include interactive coding projects.

Pro-level memberships — normally $40 per month — include all of the above-mentioned languages, plus advanced-level courses, additional projects, expert assistance and access to communities of other pro members.

“Paths,” which are in-depth programs for specific topics such as web development, design, programming and data science, are only available to pro members. Each program and class comes with a certificate of completion, another pros-only perk.

In our guide to programming vs. coding, faculty member Arshad Wala of General Assembly, a popular coding bootcamp, explained that the “hacker mentality” is still accepted within the industry. Employers are willing to overlook traditional education and experience. They mainly care about your ability to sling code. 

However, long-term career prospects for coders are fizzling out, according to employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wala warned that, eventually, coders will face a predicament similar to typists of decades past. Most people will understand how to write basic code in the near future, and coding as a job will become obsolete. 

Programmers who understand multiple languages and have a broader understanding of software and app development will shine.

Thanks to Codecademy’s new initiative, the tools and in-depth knowledge needed to stick around for the long haul are available ― and free, for now.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.