How to Become a Ruby on Rails Developer

Sep 9, 2021 - 7 min read

How to Become a Ruby on Rails Developer

So, you want to become a Ruby on Rails developer but you don’t know where to start. Well, that is because it’s not something you can easily figure out.

The amount of information out there is staggering, and you don’t want to jump at it head first because you might waste a lot of your time on things that don’t get you anywhere.

I know you have many questions on your mind about it, so I’m going to take a shot at answering them. But if you still have questions that are not answered in this guide, please let me know about them, so I can add them in.

I hope this article will help you align your expectations and also give you some advice on how to get job ready faster.

And the first thing I want you to realize is that you’re looking at a serious time investment to get really good at it. It takes at least five to ten years of learning and coding every day.

But the good news is that you can get started relatively quickly, and get yourself a nice job so you can continue learning.

Now that you have a more realistic picture of how much time you need to invest, there are a few shortcuts that I think you should know about because they can help you get your first job faster.

It’s not just about putting in the time. It’s also about moving forward fast, and not getting stuck a lot (which tends to happen more often than not).

The fastest way to become a Ruby on Rails developer is to have someone with a a great deal of experience teach you. Bootcamps, workshops, and coaching can really help because of the human factor (where you get someone to look at your code and help you improve it).

This has to do with moving fast and not getting stuck. Because every time you do get stuck, you’re losing precious time that you could use to get yourself ready faster. And the more time you spend preparing, the more money you lose (by not being able to apply).

That is the fastest option, but it’s also the most expensive one. I would advise you to look at it as an investment (think about how much time/money you’re saving by learning faster).

The reason I advise you to conside this option is because you are very likely to get a return on your investment in a matter of months. As opposed to the DIY option (see below) that comes with almost no guarantees.

The DIY option requires less or no money, but it makes up for it with a huge time investment. So it depends on what is more valuable to you (time or money).

How to learn Ruby on Rails for free

I shouldn’t say free, because I don’t believe you can learn anything for free (not if you value your time), but what most people refer to when they say free is something that doesn’t require an exchange of money.

So if you prefer to save some cash, in exchange for your time, here’s what you can do to get started.

Create a pet project

Given the considerable amount of time needed to go through the theory and practice, you’re going to come face to face with the worst enemy of productivity. Proctastination.

By picking a pet project that you find attractive enough to keep you motivated and keep you going for months, you have a high chance of beating procrastination.

Motivation to show up and do the work every day over a period of a few months is critical. So keep that in mind.

Pick a deadline

If you work on your own project this is harder because you’re not being hold accountable for completing the project. But try to give yourself a deadline anyway.

You can do this by announcing the release date publicly, telling all your friends you’re going to show them the project on a particular date, announce it on social media, etc.

Make it so that it would be embarrassing if you didn’t stick to your promise. That’s a really good way of keeping yourself accountable.

Another option is to work (for free) on someone else’s project.

It doesn’t matter what you’re building as long as it has a powerful motivational element to it. The most powerful motivator I know is a deadline.

A deadline will eradicate procrastination from your learning process, and it will skyrocket your learning speed.

Unblock yourself quickly

If you skim over the StackOverflow forums you will see the number of questions people have about coding in general. That tells you that you will have a lot of questions yourself, especially when you’re just getting started.

And every question you do have is a possible roadblock.

You will get stuck ofter, that’s for sure. So if you don’t have a mentor to answer your questions, the next best thing is to go on forums like StackOverflow and ask your questions there.

You probably won’t get the same amount of clarity from a forum that you would from a mentor, but it could be enough to help you move forward.

Worst thing you could do here is to spend days on a particular problem.

Whatever works

Don’t worry about the quality of your code. So if you have questions like “is this how you do it?”, or “is my code good enough?”, just ignore them. Do whatever works. You can improve on it later.

You don’t have to write perfect code from day one. You can’t, even if you try.

All you need to do is write code that works, and plan to improve it later when you have more information about how to do so.

This practice helps you learn faster because you build up a knowledge base that will help you associate future knowledge with. For example if you read a book, after you have practiced coding, the concepts become a lot easier to understand because you can associate them with your coding experience.

Improve your code later

The way you learn coding is like this:

  1. You write a piece of code that works
  2. You write more code, and discover a new concept
  3. You try to rewrite old code using the new concept
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 forever 🙂

Over time, all these small course corrections add up, and that’s how you become a good software developer. You learn everything in small increments and in such a way that makes sense for you at the level you’re currently at.

This process has worked wonders for me, and I hope it will transform the way you learn.

Unfortunately though, doing it this way takes a lot of time (many years) because knowing what good code looks like is like describing colors to a blind man.

That is why, if you want to learn Ruby on Rails quickly, I would advise you to invest in a bootcamp, workshop, or coaching program.

If you found this article useful, please help others discover it by sharing it on your favorite social media platform.

Cezar Halmagean
Software development consultant with over a decade of experience in helping growing companies scale large Ruby on Rails applications. Has written about the process of building Ruby on Rails applications in RubyWeekly, SemaphoreCI, and Foundr.