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Codecademy Review- Is a Codecademy Subscription Worth it in 2023?

By Curricular Staff Published: February 23, 2023

Codecademy's free courses provide a great introduction to coding, but for learning anything beyond the basics, we believe there are better options.
While we like Codecademy's emphasis on hands-on-keyboard learning, we found significant limitations with the Pro learning material. The assessments are too easy to stretch the learner, the projects provide too much handholding, and the community is more noisy than helpful.
For just about any type of learner, if you're looking for a paid solution to gain technical skills, we recommend alternative solutions.


Bottom Line

Codecademy is Great For:

  • Figuring out for free if coding is something you enjoy doing and want to pursue further.
  • A low-cost, all-in-one solution that can take you from the basics to a foundational working knowledge of a variety of topics.
  • Supplementing other learning solutions, like a coding bootcamp or video courses from Udemy.

Why You Might Want a Different Solution:

  • If you already know enough coding (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript; or a server-side programming language like PHP) to stand up a basic website with some interactivity, you'll probably find Codecademy's style too rudimentary.
  • If you’re a professional programmer looking to learn a new language, there are better solutions that will get you up to speed with a new technology faster.
  • If you’re looking for material that will bring a lot of personality, Codecademy isn’t for you. Because of its size, Codecademy has conformed everything to a similar style. It's professional and polished, but it's not as engaging as other instructors we've learned from.

Our Recommendation

If you're just starting out with coding, take the free HTML, CSS, and JavaScript courses. These are among the best introductory web programming courses out there.

A Codecademy Plus subscription is a decent value for getting started with coding. But for anything beyond the basics, we think there are better choices.

If you're serious about becoming a professional developer and want a free or low-cost solution, we think there are better choices.

Our recommended paid alternative:

Free alternatives include:

Codecademy's Key Value Propositions

You’ll get your hands on the keyboard from the first minute. You’ll start with the basics and build up from there. You’ll get immediate feedback on whether things are working. But you’ll probably tire of the format, and you’ll outgrow the step by step instructional model. There are better solutions that do a better job of taking off the training wheels.

While Codecademy's free courses are good hands-on introductions to coding, we found them limited in terms of educational effectiveness, as assessments and projects are are locked behind the paywall. The Pro subscription is limited by the quality of the projects, which have too much handholding for the learner.

Codecademy uses key learning features like projects and assessments to upsell you into a Plus or Pro membership, and even then, we found the projects and assessments are lacking, as they aren't difficult enough to really stretch the learner. Once past the basics, we grew tired of the step by step instructional model, and generally have found other solutions do a better job taking off the training wheels.


What is Codecademy?

Codecademy brought coding to the forefront of American society in 2012 with the promise of teaching anyone to code in a year. Even NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed up for the Year of Code.

Ten years later, the application has evolved into a holistic tech skills development solution, owned by the massive skills development company, Skillsoft.

Codecademy provides free and paid courses, projects, and workspaces for learning. They curate these resources into learning paths geared towards technical roles like Frontend Web Developers, Fullstack Web Developer. Their paths and courses cover roles and skills in Computer Science, Data Science, Design, Cybersecurity, and more.


Purchase Options

Many of the introductory Codecademy courses are available for free, in a condensed format that excludes some or all of the projects and quizzes. This includes introductory courses on HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and some frameworks like React.

At the time of writing, Codecademy offers two subscription tiers: Plus and Pro.

Codecademy Plus ($34.99 per month; $17.99 per month billed annually) includes:

  • access to the full library of courses
  • learning through the mobile app
  • portfolio projects

A Codecademy Pro subscription ($59.99 per month or $29.99 per month billed annually) includes everything in Plus, as well as:

  • career-focused paths
  • career services, including technical interview prep and coding challenges
  • assessments

Why You Should Trust Us

Curricular Guides are written by a team of technical professionals, course developers, and lifelong learners.

For this review, we spent over 40 hours testing Codecademy courses and platform features, reading reviews, and talking with users.

The lead of this project, Brian Green, has worked in developer education since 2009. He built the content development teams at Pluralsight and Udacity, in the process working with hundreds of authors to build courseware, and developing quality standards and tutorials to improve course quality. As of writing, he estimates he has spent nearly a year of his life taking or reviewing online courses, on topics ranging from Web Development, Networking, Server Administration, DevOps, Cybersecurity, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence.

Why Codecademy Might Be a Good Option For You

Free Intro to Coding Courses

If you're trying to figure out whether coding is something you want to pursue, Codecademy is a decent option. Their free courses will expose you to the basics of JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and more.

Learning the Basics By Doing

Rather than watching a video, Codecademy's tutorials involve reading and actually writing code. This is definitely a step above watching YouTube tutorials.

A Low-Cost All-in-One Career Prep Solution

The Codecademy Pro subscription is $59 per month ($29 per month when billed annually) and includes Career Paths with technical interview prep, assessments, and practice coding challenges. It's a compelling offer for a low monthly fee. Note: this is a new product line, so it's too early to know what kinds of results they're delivering, especially in newer content areas like cybersecurity and data science.

Portfolio Projects Library

If you're looking for a bunch of ideas for projects you can add to your professional portfolio, Codecademy's projects library can be very helpful.

If you want feedback, you'll have to find peers either in Codecademy's network or elsewhere. Based on what we saw on the Codecademy community, it would be better to seek outside feedback.



Some Drawbacks of Using Codecademy

Too Much Hand Holding

While Codecademy primarily utilized hands-on exercises, the step-by-step instructions tend to provide too much help to students. They leave it up to you to write some code, but we found more often than not it's highly prescriptive, like following a recipe.

The instructions even tell you how to structure your app, with the names of the key components. Obviously this makes it easier to autograde assignments. But without handing more of the controls over, it's hard for students to move to greater independence.

Experienced programmers will likely find the step-by-step approach slower, more deliberate, and easier than necessary for their skill level. There are other solutions that move at a more appropriate pace and difficulty.

Impersonal Learning

If you’re looking for a course option where you'll connect with the teacher, Codecademy isn’t for you. Because of its size, Codecademy has conformed everything to a similar style. It's professional and polished, but it's not as engaging as other solutions where you get to know the instructor and their style. In fact, unlike other platforms, where you're aware of who authored the courses and hear their voice through video screencasts, we couldn't find any information on who authored Codecademy courses apart from mention of "industry experts" on the sales page.

Lack of Community

We found the community had a higher noise-to-signal ratio than other solutions, and users with questions tended to have to wait several days to get a response. As far as we could tell, it's difficult to find other learners progressing through the material at a similar pace. The community feels less like a community than a forum where you can get questions answered, if you can stand out in the noise.

Specialised Services Are Better

With the Pro subscription, Codecademy has added several new features intended to help aspiring coders land their first job. This includes coding challenges and interview preparation.

Getting the Most From Your Codecademy Subscription

1. Follow the Paths

The paths provide a wider variety of learning exercises than you'll typically see on individual courses. Examples include soft skills training and career path guidance, like portfolio development and interview prep. We found some of the path-specific material to be some of the most valuable content on the platform.

2. Do the Portfolio Projects

Solo practice in a new context is some of the most important work you'll do to develop skills. Codecademy provides two kinds of projects: practice and portfolio. Practice projects involve a lot of handholding - they're closed-end projects with one solution, and the instructors give you a series of steps to complete and prescribe exactly what you need to type. As a result, these projects don't really challenge you. Portfolio projects, on the other hand, are done on your own system and are open-ended apart from a set of basic requirements.

The portfolio projects are where real growth happens. They're meaty projects that will take a while to complete; sometimes several weeks of work. If you're looking to launch a career as a developer, you'll want to focus a lot of attention on making your portfolio projects great.

3. Work locally when you can

Codecademy's interface is great for getting into learning mode quickly rather than spending a lot of time on setup and configuration. However, as you progress to more advanced topics, you'll need to know how to setup, configure, and troubleshoot your development environment.

Codecademy provides Workspaces, which are quick-configuration development environments. These are similar to CodeSandbox or, but we found them to be a lot slower. Even so, we recommend using something like this as a supplement. Don't rely entirely on the coding challenges that sit alongside the topic explanations and challenges, because these environments aren't real-world, and if this is the only way you're coding, you may struggle to launch your own projects.


Another drawback of using the in-browser coding environment is that Codecademy's code validation is extremely strict. If you type different words inside an html element will cause the tests to fail, even if the html is valid. This gets very frustrating the third time it happens.

Don't Bother With

Coding Cohorts These would be highly valuable if they actually ran. It seems like this was a pandemic-era experiment that got shelved.

Practice Concepts

While we love the idea of spaced repetition, this Codecademy feature isn't quite fully baked. The promise is personalized practice. But what you get is a written summary of material that you may have missed during quizzes. Ideally, spaced repetition should reintroduce key concepts in order to reinforce that you've learned the material, not merely focus on gaps in learning.

Certificates It's tempting to want to get a certificate for completing a course. But practically speaking, getting a job as a developer has little to do with the certificates, and much more to do with demonstrated ability to code, through a strong portfolio, as well as the ability to pass coding challenges. Codecademy's completion certificates mostly rely on you having checked all of the boxes on each concept; while this reinforces that you've studied every concept, it's not a proxy for learning the material.

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