How long does it take to learn JavaScript?

How long it takes to learn JavaScript and build a mental model.

For any aspiring web developer, JavaScript can seem like the pinnacle of your learning journey. It’s the ultimate tool that will unlock so many doors, from simple website animations to full stack applications . The question then arises: how long does it take to learn JavaScript? The common answer most bootcamp sales pages will provide is 1-3 months.

The truth, however, isn't as straightforward as one might hope. It requires a broader understanding of the language nuances, from foundational knowledge to practical application and senior-level concepts. 

Learning the tools for a job is one thing, growing a foundational mental model is another.

What can be achieved in 1-3 months

Sadly, “JavaScript mastery” is not the answer - or anywhere close. No matter how reputable the training is, or how many “Master JavaScript in 5 minutes” youtube videos you watch, a few months is not long enough to gain full confidence and command of a sophisticated programming language and its ecosystem. 

With that said, there is a lot that can be accomplished. 

In 1-3 months you can build the required syntax familiarity and muscle memory of the core JavaScript fundamentals - variables, objects & arrays, loops, and functions. It’s not a matter of only learning theory either. 60% of your time should be spent on short exercises and practice projects. 

You might not yet be able to build your own project without guidance, but you’re developing the necessary foundational skills, such as writing and executing functions, accessing object properties and the syntax for a for loop versus an array method loop. 

No amount of theory and concept-learning can measure up to the value gained from simple, regular coding exercises.

Accelerate with ‘Deep End Learning’

There is something more that you can do in this time, and is highly recommended. I call it “Deep End Learning” - a stage I mention in my Roadmap to JavaScript Professional.

It is precisely what bootcamps offer: rapid acceleration. In a very short space of time you can be pushed to cover a huge amount of material, from vanilla JS apps to fullstack applications with React and Node JS.

It doesn’t have to be through a bootcamp. It can be any course or workshop that covers a ton of material and makes you feel completely out of your depth.

For example, Wes Bos’s React For Beginners course, or Full Stack Open.

This is fantastic for technology exposure and getting you building apps as fast as possible.

After 3 months, am I ready?

If by “ready” we mean ready to start applying for developer jobs - then yes, this is certainly possible. Especially if you’ve been fortunate enough to study full time in a bootcamp, you’re likely to have a few basic projects under your belt to include in a portfolio, and some familiarity with major frameworks and libraries - enough to start looking for junior roles.

On the other hand, if “ready” means feeling comfortable and confident with your craft, and able to build applications without following a tutorial, it is highly likely your journey is far from over.

In fact, it is extremely common at this stage to have even less confidence in your grasp of fundamentals. 

Focus on practical application, not JavaScript theory

So you’re a couple of months in, perhaps with a bootcamp behind you, and yet you still find yourself asking ‘how long does it take to learn JavaScript?’.

It’s not the correct question to be asking yourself. A better question is “how long until I feel confident with JavaScript?”.

How can you tell when you have "learnt" JavaScript? I’ve been in the industry for eight years and I can’t say I have finished learning.

Confidence, on the other hand, can certainly be achieved. You won’t feel like you know everything, and you will make a lot of mistakes. But gaining confidence will mean JavaScript isn’t as scary any more - you can problem-solve anything. 

This kind of confidence does not come from acing JavaScript trivia. Trying to learn as much theory as you can will not help you at all.

It’s a common pitfall I have noticed in so many beginners. It’s so easy to get stuck trying to understand every concept. It’s the rabbit-hole story, where looking up one thing leads to 10x other things to dive into.

Instead of fixating on understanding every nuance, focus on practicing with small, silly projects. Choose a basic idea, and try to make it on your own. It can be as small as an html form or tic tac toe game.

You will get stuck. You will get frustrated. You will need to problem-solve. It will seem like you’re not making any progress and is pointless. But there’s value even in unfinished projects. Confidence is born from hours of toil and frustration.

I speak about this at length in From Checklist to craftsmanship - what JavaScript learners are missing.

By prioritizing application over theoretical understanding, you'll accelerate your learning curve. It's okay to feel like you don't fully grasp everything about JavaScript. What matters most is gaining confidence through hands-on experience.

How long it really takes to learn JavaScript

Here’s the truth: while it may take a few months to build your foundational knowledge, growing confidence and mastering complex concepts can take much, much longer. 

Here in The Great Sync, we refer to it as your JavaScript mental model. It’s when you’re able to link all of the concepts together into a big picture understanding of the language, which you can use and adapt in any environment. 

Your goal after learning the foundations is to build this mental model slowly and methodically. 

Working on your own small silly projects will help you do this, along with other effective strategies:

  1. using alternative learning approaches like games and visual, analogy based learning to provide a different perspective. This is what The Great Sync is all about.
  2. Refactoring and reflecting on past code you have written, and finding the key takeaways
  3. practicing with short code challenges, such as on leetcode, edabit or codewars
  4. seeking guidance from experienced developers

All of this can take many months, even years. There are no shortcuts to becoming a true professional. 


Whether you're aiming to become a proficient web developer or simply seeking to add JavaScript to your programming toolkit, the key lies in practical application and continuous learning.

Don't be discouraged by the complexity of JavaScript or the time it takes to master it. Embrace the journey, celebrate your progress 🎉, and remember that every hurdle you overcome brings you one step closer to a strong adaptable mental model. With perseverance and dedication, you'll find your confidence grows - the main indicator of your skill level with JavaScript, rather than time spent learning it.

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