Programmer Success Stories: Real People. Real Stories. Real Results

Daniel Daines-Hutt
Daniel Daines-Hutt

Are you thinking of learning to code?

Perhaps you’ve already started and need some inspiration to keep you going, or maybe you’re just about to start and want to see what's possible?

In this article we’re going to share 6 new programmer success stories from people who are just like you:

  • Total beginners
  • Learning on the weekends and evenings after work
  • Or people who are currently coding but want to take their career to the next level and improve where they can

Each of them had doubts or worries or fears, but they didn’t let it stop them. They pushed through difficult situations and improved their skills, lives, and careers.

How well did they do?

You’re not going to believe me…

How ZTM students will make at least US $40,506,000 in 2022

Alright so that headline sounds super clickbaity and it kind of is, but bear with me as I have proof to back it up.

We’ve talked about our students' success stories before with ZTM students getting hired at Uber, Google, Tesla, Amazon and many others.

ztm testimonials

The thing is, each of the stories I’m going to share with you today are brand new, and all of them happened in either 2021 or early 2022 during the current COVID and global crises.

And those earnings above?

This is just from a small segment of the people from the Zero To Mastery community, so those numbers are probably a lot higher…

Let me explain

At the end of last year we ran a survey to our Discord community of over 275,000 students. The goal of the survey was to find out what new course content they wanted to see created in 2022.

Anything from new or updated languages, to specific projects, and soft skills.

ztm 2021 survey for new courses to be created

Because we don’t do surveys that often, we figured we would also ask a few questions to see how people were doing and how our training has helped them.

Did they get a job, get promoted, start freelance work or simply work on their own projects outside of the projects in the courses?

The answers blew us away…

The results

ZTM Customer Survey Programming Sucess Story Results 2021

Now although our private developer community is over 275,000 people, only 1,796 of them filled out the survey.

ZTM discord developer community

That’s totally fair, as surveys are not that fun to fill out and people have more fun things to do such as spending time with family, or farming runes on Elden Ring.

However, even with just a small response like this, the results were simply amazing:

471 people quit their day jobs and became full-time software developers

Of the 1,796 people who took the survey, 26.22% of them got their first job as a software developer.

How fantastic is that!?

GIF video

Especially when you consider the fact that the average income for a software developer is around $86,000 USD.

average software developer salary 2022

We’ll share some interviews we did with a few people in just a second, but here’s a little math that blew our minds.

From these survey respondents alone, this could easily be $40 Million dollars in new income for people who had zero or very little programming experience.

$40,000,000?! What kind of funny math is this?

Well we aren’t math majors but here’s our quick napkin math.

$86,000 / year * 471 people = $40,506,000

We took the average salary of $86,000 per year, multiplied by the 471 people who got new software developer jobs, and BOOM… $40,506,000 dollars that our students will earn in 2022.

GIF video

Even crazier?

We’re being super conservative. This total doesn’t even include:

  1. The raises that the 408 ZTM students below got from getting promoted
  2. The many freelance jobs that 232 ZTM students below got
  3. Or the rest of the 275,000+ other students in our community

~$40,000,000 in income is just counting the students who filled out the survey and got their first programming job.

And sure, not everyone on the survey is making the US average and not everyone is being paid in USD, but one thing stood out:

Almost everyone we talked to added at least 40% to their income (some were even higher at 250% or more!) which I think you’ll agree is pretty damn awesome.

408 junior developers got promoted to senior positions

We don’t just teach people how to code and get hired, we also teach them how to take the next step, be confident in their skills, get promoted, and ace the interview.

GIF video

That’s why 22.72% of the people who took our survey got promoted from junior to senior roles, seeing an additional jump in salary of anywhere from $22,000-$71,000 USD per year.

senior software developer salary 2022

232 students became freelance software developers

With the huge rise in remote work and lifestyle changes, it’s little surprise that programmers are also looking for more freedom in their work.

Get projects, get paid, finish projects, live on the beach for 3 months, rinse, repeat.

GIF video

Of the 1,796 people who answered our survey, 12.92% of them got hired as new freelance software developers.

freelance software developer salary 2022

Salaries here could vary as not all freelancers work all year round, but that’s still an impressive jump for new freelancers!

By now you’re probably already motivated and want to learn to code, or perhaps even want to learn how to become a freelance developer.

But before you get too excited and check out our courses, here’s 6 short programmer success stories to help you see that these people are just like you.

1️⃣ “I went from feeling like I was trying to hide my lack of knowledge during an interview, to being excited to demonstrate what I know… it's an entirely different experience”

Who are you?

I would prefer to stay anonymous, but I graduated recently (May 2021) with a degree in Mechanical Engineering specializing in Mechatronics.

I was exposed to C++ programming in the final 2 years of my degree and enjoyed it, and so I decided I wanted to pursue software development as a career as it seemed to be the area of my degree that captivated me the most.

I would often lose track of time while working on it and I figured that software development would allow me to be flexible working from home much more than most jobs associated with my degree.

What do you do now?

I just got a position as a junior software developer for a large corporation that produces workforce management software.

What did you do before you got this job?

After graduating, I got a job with a company specializing in IT support.

It was somewhat aligned with my goal of getting into software development and was fairly easy to apply for and get into. They were known for hiring new grads in large numbers, as well as providing extensive training to new employees in different programming languages.

Why did you want to join? Were there any issues or motivations?

After a bunch of failed technical interviews, I realized that I had gaps in my knowledge and that there were important concepts that a programmer should know about, that I haven't even heard of.

So I started looking for courses that would attack those weak areas and close the gaps as quickly as possible. I didn't like my job and it didn't pay great so there was a lot of motivation to increase my knowledge and be able to convey that to potential employers.

Were you apprehensive for any reason?

I wouldn't say apprehensive but it seemed like there were many online resources to choose from and I really wasn't sure if I was choosing the right one, or even a good one for that matter. I had to trust the reviews and take a chance when making up my mind.

After you joined, were there any difficulties?

Learning new things is always a struggle, so that was expected.

The lectures were the easy part, the concepts were well explained and demonstrated in a way that made sense. The hard part was practicing afterwards, and really putting the concepts to use. That being said, there were many resources for help and to check solutions.

Now that you have your new job, how do you feel?

It feels amazing. I had a live coding interview shortly after the course in which the question was new to me, but I managed to work my way through it and demonstrate my problem solving skills and knowledge of DSA (data structures & algorithms), and that was the first technical interview that I walked out of feeling like I nailed it. It was a game changer.

Prior to that, I had months of applications that led nowhere and rejections or interviews that made me feel like I wasn't cut out to work in software.

But all the negativity from that went away.

I went from feeling like I was trying to hide my lack of knowledge during an interview or cover it up with anything relevant, to being excited to demonstrate what I do know. It's an entirely different experience.

Was it a big difference in earnings from what you made before, to now with your new job?

I saw a 40% increase from the previous job to the new one.

GIF video

2️⃣ “I had months of rejections before I uploaded my app. I sent it as an off the cuff "Oh by the way, totally not blowing smoke about my skills" email after an initial interview, and they were the first people to come back with a job offer!”

Who are you?

My name is Feyd and I've been playing with HTML since I was a teenager.

Feyd ZTM success story

I used to mess around on my dad's pc on dial up, but CSS just confused me. I didn't have any path to learn that I could follow, as my school's entire computer skills program was 1 hour with a spreadsheet, so I kind of just tuned out.

What did you do before you got your job now?

I occasionally dabbled in helping people mess with their website as long as the CSS was already there, but otherwise just kinda floated through life. I made guitar cases, fixed Airsoft, then airguns, but I've always fixed or built things, or made things work.

Over the past few years I took charge of the admin for a website, which reignited my love for coding. I slowly started playing with CSS and suddenly it made sense!

Why did you want to join? Were there any issues or motivations? Were you apprehensive for any reason?

When the lockdown hit I was working with a company who were developing a Magento 2 website that I was designing and creating through the theme's UI. After a few issues I took over the full day to day of updating and overseeing a new module installation.

I purchased courses in PHP, c++, python and mysql and they were f####ing awful.

Still, I worked through those and found a few useful courses on YouTube, but nothing really stuck. The YouTube courses would end halfway or just not be very good.

I then did a ton of research into online tutorial bootcamps after chatting with a friend who was already on one. I chose the Zero To Mastery course due to some of the reviews and the code choice.

I wanted to help some family members out with websites, so I took the web design course which gave me a great understanding of hierarchy, UX and UI. But I quickly found out that I was not a designer… I just enjoyed building things!

After you joined, were there any difficulties?

This is the point where I started down rabbit holes and got a little distracted. I looked into Wordpress themes and plugins not covered in the academy, and feel like I wasted my summer on things that weren't going to be useful.

Editor's Note:

Here at ZTM, we actually remove a lot of fluff that you might find in other training programs (It would be very easy to add 100+ hours of additional info in almost any course).

This is because we want you to get to the point of proficiency as fast as possible, so that you can then take action. Be that writing code or applying for jobs.

It’s easy when starting out to want to keep learning more and more so that you feel more prepared, but the reality is you need to learn the most important things, and then learn while doing, and so that’s what we focus on.

OK, back to Feyd’s story…

So I decided to come back to the academy and follow a set path, and started the junior to senior developer course.

All the time my missis was telling me I needed to start applying for jobs, and every bit of advice was saying I should start applying, but I felt that I couldn't because I had nothing to represent myself, so I built something!

GIF video

I built a small one page app in React that generates a listing page of results from a JSON file. It’s filterable and uses the text to generate a GUI for a user to browse.

It took me a long time, but I eventually decided I should post it up to Github pages.

I had months of rejections before I put that up. I sent it as an off the cuff "Oh by the way, totally not blowing smoke about my skills" email after an initial zoom interview and they were the first people to come back with a job offer!

They even upped the offer with a little negotiation!

Now that you have your new job, how do you feel?

So, as of today I've just handed in my notice and I'm slightly bricking it!

The job is Wordpress and PHP based, but I truly believe that the React app made the difference and if I'm honest I wouldn't have the understanding of PHP I do now, without spending proper time with the JavaScript fundamentals in a way that the other courses didn't!

3️⃣ “My new position has bumped me up from the lowest tax bracket in canada, to the highest”

Who are you?

My name is Tristan Deane and I’m a 28 year old self-taught developer from Alberta, Canada.

Tristan ZTM Success Story

What do you do?

I work remotely at an American based startup. My official title is Software Engineer 1.

What did you do before you got your job now?

I was a waiter for about a decade before deciding to jump into the tech industry.

Why did you want to join? Were there any issues or motivations? How did you feel about this?

After learning the basics of web development, I was in the process of teaching myself React.js and looking through courses.

I eventually found ZTM’s Complete React Developer course (now updated for 2022 btw) and liked how comprehensive it seemed. After enrolling, I was very impressed by both the courses' content and the teaching styles of Andrei and Yihua.

I took "Getting Your First Dev Job" with Yihua and "Career Advice" with Andrei. They were both very helpful when creating my resume and deciding which type of companies to focus my efforts on.

Once I had completed a majority of the course, I decided to explore the rest of the academy’s offerings. That turned out to be a great decision. All of the courses I’ve taken are excellent and the community is super friendly.

Were you apprehensive for any reason?

Yes, initially I wasn’t sure if the other courses would be on par with Complete React Developer. But they absolutely are!

In fact, these courses:

After you joined, were there any difficulties?

No, I didn’t have any troubles once I joined. My goal was to become a full-stack web developer and I used the academy’s career paths (full-stack web dev) to guide my studies.

Now that you have your new job, how do you feel?

I’ve been working at my current position for about 5 months now and it’s been a great experience. We have a tight-knit team and our mission aligns well with my personal values.

It hasn’t always been easy as software development does have its challenges, but it has definitely been worth the journey and I’m excited to continue growing as a developer.

Was it a big difference in earnings from what you made before, to now with your new job?

Yes, I’m incredibly fortunate that my new position has bumped me up from the lowest tax bracket in Canada to the highest.

4️⃣ “The Only Thing Left to Do Was Push Myself to Learn Something New”

Who are you?

My name is Bachram, I’m from Azerbaijan and I am 33.

Bachram at ZTM success story

What do you do?

I am working as a React front-end developer at a local company here in Azerbaijan.

What did you do before you got your job now?

I was working in a bank as a customer care specialist for a long time but was always curious about programming.

Why did you want to join? Were there any issues or motivations? How did you feel about this?

In 2018, it became very popular to join different courses to learn programming.

All my friends joined affiliated courses of international academies. They were learning Java, PHP, CISCO, and web design but it was too expensive for me both in money and time.

Then I found a ZTM course and I thought I could give it a shot.

After you joined, were there any difficulties?

I was struggling to get stuff done because it was hard to focus on something when nobody made you. It’s tough to leave your comfort zone when you have a good job, and so I decided to take a risk.

I left my job at the bank, and gave all my savings to my family. I was without a job and without any money. I didn't want to go back to work in a bank. The only thing left to do was push myself to learn something new.

The more I was learning, the more I realized that learning alone wasn't enough. I needed to take action and not just learn. I applied for jobs and found a company who didn’t ask for any experience and agreed to hire me for a 3 month probation period.

Now that you have your new job, how do you feel?

I love what I'm doing and what is more important, I am continuing to improve my skills!

I have never seen a more friendly environment than among programmers.

Was it a big difference in earnings from what you made before, to now with your new job?

I’m earning as much as I did in my previous job at a bank. This is considered as a good salary here, but it is way lower than job offers in the world. However, after less than 1 year of experience I've started getting offers from other companies.

5️⃣ “I was offered a salary that was 2.5x what I was making before. Almost overnight I was able to put myself into a position where I was paying off debts and got ahead in bills”

Who are you?

My name is David and I'm currently a software engineer that works remotely.

What did you do before you got your job now?

Before that I was the beverage director and manager for a local restaurant in my town.

Why did you want to join? Were there any issues or motivations? How did you feel about this?

I've always been passionate about computers and how they work. When the pandemic rolled around, I lost my job and found myself with the need to transition. I ultimately decided on Zero To Mastery for two reasons:

Reason #1. You get what you pay for

There is certainly plenty of free content out there, but a huge advantage is having it organized and presented in a very consumable way.

Reason #2. I did extensive research on a variety of different options

I'm pretty self motivated so I was less interested (and financially it wasn't feasible) in going through a formal coding bootcamp.

I wanted to work at my own pace. ZTM had fantastic reviews and when I previewed the courses I found the cadence and flow of the courses to be excellent.

I took three courses:

I reviewed the curriculum of these three and determined they would give me an excellent foundation. I was driven to join by my interest in programming.

There was, of course, some apprehension. Who wouldn’t feel that when they decide to make the move to change careers!? But in order to develop myself I decided to move forward with taking the courses.

After you joined, were there any difficulties?

Once I started the course, it was phenomenally easy to follow.

If there was any ambiguity, the community and instructors for the courses were very quick to reply and assist, though it was rare that I needed to.

Now that you have your new job, how do you feel?

It feels great to be in a solid financial position.

After I first joined there was definitely a bit of “imposter syndrome”. I actually had a senior engineer reach out to me and remind me that I made it and there was no reason to feel that way. I’m a little more than a year into my career and I feel very confident.

There’s still so much to learn and I’m grateful for the foundation I was able to receive.

Was it a big difference in earnings from what you made before, to now with your new job?

I got hired at my job as the second member for a new team. I was offered a salary that was 2.5x what I was making before. It was almost overnight that I was able to put myself into a position where I was paying off debts and got ahead with my bills.

6️⃣ “I went from never having a successful coding interview to getting multiple FAANG-level offers"

Who are you?

I prefer not to say.

What do you do?

I am now a Principal Software Engineer.

What did you do before you got your job now?

I worked as a Software Engineer in Cybersecurity.

Why did you want to join? Were there any issues or motivations? How did you feel about this?

I had been in the software industry for 8 years. There was just one catch: I had never gotten a job that required a technical interview.

I was incredibly insecure about this and knew it was limiting my career. My colleagues were excelling, getting better positions with better pay and I was feeling stagnant with my own.

Were you apprehensive for any reason?

I found the Master the Coding Interview course and initially thought "Isn't this the same as all the other courses I've tried?"

I had already gone through the Cracking the Coding Interview and "Elements of Programming: Interviews" books, as well as completed Leetcode and HackerRank with little success.

After you joined, were there any difficulties?

Not particularly.

The course itself was slow to start, focusing not on the data structures but on the resume and finding interviews, but quickly ramped up on everything I needed to learn and practice.

Now that you have your new job, how do you feel?

Incredible. I went from never having a successful coding interview to getting multiple FAANG-level offers.

Was it a big difference in earnings from what you made before, to now with your new job?

I make 2.5x what I did before.

These are amazing stories. Now what?!:

So there you have it.

6 incredibly motivational programmer success stories from people who are just like you, learning on weekends and evenings but now having totally changed their lives.

It sounds cliche but if it works for them it can work for you too.

Take your first step by getting a personalized career roadmap based on your goals and your current level.

Once you have your step-by-step roadmap, come join us as a member of the ZTM Academy.

More from Zero To Mastery

4 Reasons To Become a Freelance Programmer preview
4 Reasons To Become a Freelance Programmer

Freelancing is in your future. Learn why you need to become a freelancer, how to start freelancing fast and cost-effectively, and how to land your first freelance jobs. Plus, how to quickly gain skills for the most profitable freelance jobs available.

Best Programming Languages To Learn In 2022 preview
Best Programming Languages To Learn In 2022

Are you looking for the best programming language to learn in 2022? Our guide uses 6 criteria to determine the 14 best programming languages for 2022.

Full-Time Developer in just a few months: Zero To Mastery case studies preview
Full-Time Developer in just a few months: Zero To Mastery case studies

You can’t possibly learn software development from scratch in a few months, can you? Zero To Mastery students are making it happen and you can too!