The coding job market has seen astronomical growth over the last decade, and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is confident that jobs like software developer, quality assurance analyst, and QA tester will continue to outperform the US labor market as a whole over the next ten years.
Still, if you’ve been following the news, it’s been impossible to miss the recent layoffs in the tech industry — layoffs that, according to Business Insider, have disproportionately impacted those “learn-to-code” roles like software engineer. And even the BLS, while bullish in their outlook for software developers, foresees a contraction in demand for computer programmer hires over the next decade — a contraction forecasted before the potential added headwind of ChatGPT and other generative AIs that might automate coding work in coming years.
Now, this doesn’t mean that a tech profession is off the table for those looking to build up their coding skills and (hopefully) land a job with $100k+ compensation. But it suggests that an aspiring web developer, software developer, or full stack engineer should be more careful about how they invest their career aspirations.
This is especially true when it comes to coding bootcamps. While boot camps do produce desirable outcomes, lack of transparency when it comes to these outcomes and the relative newness of this form of education might lead a discerning consumer to eschew the high price tags often associated with these programs and instead opt for a cheap coding bootcamp.
Below, we’ll detail the advantages and disadvantages of cheap coding bootcamps and provide more information about the best ones out there.
How much does a typical coding bootcamp cost?
According to Career Karma’s 2023 State of the Bootcamp Market Report, the average full-time coding bootcamp costs around $14,200, while self-paced (usually remote) coding bootcamps specifically average around $9,400.
What does a typical coding bootcamp offer for the price?
Bootcamps are designed to help students learn the coding skills necessary to land and succeed in an entry-level coding job. The exact curriculum can vary depending on whether the bootcamp is geared towards software engineering, front end development, full stack development, data science, UX and UI design, and/or cybersecurity.
This educational content may be delivered through live in-person or online classes, asynchronous online activities, or a hybrid of these. Students will often also complete individual and/or group projects to put their new skills to work and begin developing a portfolio that can be used in recruitment.
Because they emphasize placing bootcamp graduates in entry-level positions, these programs also offer extensive career services such as interview preparation, resume review, and networking opportunities. Some also cultivate alumni communities that can offer career support for years after a student graduates from a bootcamp.
What makes a bootcamp cheap?
Of course, the easy answer for what makes a bootcamp cheap is the price — but what changes when you pay less for a coding bootcamp? If a bootcamp provider charges less (or nothing at all) for a bootcamp, they will need to reduce their own expenses and increase the volume of students they are able to serve. This generally means that they reduce the amount of student:instructor and student:student interaction they provide in favor of more scalable online asynchronous resources. A more affordable coding bootcamp will generally also provide less individualized career support.
Now, cutting expenses in this way isn’t all bad: as you’ll see in the next sections, there are advantages and drawbacks of cheap and free coding bootcamps that can make them great options for certain kinds of students. We should also note that cost-cutting isn’t the only way a bootcamp can be affordable: employer reimbursement plans, governments, non-profits, and other social good organizations can offer high-level coding bootcamps at subsidized prices. You’ll see some examples below.
What are the typical advantages of a cheap coding bootcamp?
The first advantage of a cheap or free coding bootcamp is obviously the price. If you can turn a software development bootcamp into a lucrative coding career for a fraction of the price, you stand to see a fantastic return on your investment.
In addition to a high potential return on investment, the low price of cheap coding bootcamps mean they are a low-risk investment. While ideally a cheap coding bootcamp would result in a great job offer, if it doesn’t, you’ve lost less than you would have if you paid for a $15,000 bootcamp or, worse, a full four-year computer science degree. Moreover, this lower financial risk also means that affordable coding bootcamps can provide value to those looking to dip their toes into coding who aren’t yet ready to commit.
Finally, cheap coding bootcamps, because they generally rely on asynchronous online content, can actually be far more flexible than full-fare bootcamps. Asynchronous content means that a student can learn to code from anywhere at any time of day or night, so those working full-time jobs, with family commitments, or simply devoted to their hobbies can build their next career on their terms.
What are the typical drawbacks of a cheap coding bootcamp?
Because there is generally less interaction between students or with the instructor, affordable coding bootcamps can sometimes be less engaging or more difficult for social learners and those who require more instructor oversight while they learn.
Cheap coding bootcamps, since they often have a set asynchronous curriculum, also run the risk of not being as responsive to changing demands in the market. Whereas an instructor who is a professional in their coding field can easily (and naturally) adapt to where the field is at the moment, refreshing asynchronous curricula can be expensive and time-intensive, meaning that often several years can go by between reboots. This means that students pursuing cheaper or free coding bootcamps run the risk of learning from a curriculum that is less current than others out there, putting them at a disadvantage in the job hunt where employers will be looking for candidates who can use the latest software engineering tools and have relevant skills and expertise in in-demand areas like machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Finally, bootcamp providers offering more affordable options often have fewer resources to devote to individualized career services. This can be difficult for those unaccustomed to career-searching who don’t have established professional networks in tech.
|Cheap Coding Bootcamps: Pros & Cons
|Fewer Career Services
Who are cheap coding bootcamps best for?
Cheap coding bootcamps are best for the following audiences:
- Aspiring coders who have experience or aptitude learning in low-touch environments
- Career changers who need flexibility to learn at their own pace
- Individuals curious about coding who want to learn more in a low-risk environment
- Individuals who need a more affordable way to learn coding
What are the best cheap coding bootcamps out there?
You might think a cheap or free coding bootcamps is right for you, but how do you know which one exactly? Below, we’ve assembled our picks for the best ones out there, optimizing for quality of curriculum, learning format, flexibility, and price. To be considered for this list, a bootcamp’s tuition must be $9000 or less, and we’ve ordered them from lowest to highest.
Cheap Coding Bootcamps
NuCamp, in collaboration with Google Cloud, offers a range of coding bootcamps that cover various areas such as web development fundamentals, backend, frontend, and full-stack options. NuCamp’s unique hybrid format allows them to offer competitive instruction at a much lower price point. For each bootcamp, students study at their own pace during the week and then participate in weekly instructor-led workshops online, with flexible scheduling options available.
NuCamp is also noteworthy for its focus on increasing gender diversity in coding. Through the Women in Tech Scholarship offered in collaboration with Google Cloud, NuCamp is providing women with a 25% tuition discount throughout 2023. But all of NuCamps offerings would already be considered affordable, with most courses priced under $3000.
Verified Student Reviews: After conducting analysis of recently submitted Nucamp students reviews, we’ve discovered that the overall student experience attending the school is positive. Students appreciate the affordability, flexibility, and knowledge of the instructors, as well as the hands-on learning approach and supportive community. However, some Nucamp students mention minor issues such as the pacing of video material and the need for more training in certain tools or languages.
Pros: One of the recurring strengths of Nucamp mentioned by students is its affordability and flexibility. Students appreciate the opportunity to learn coding skills in a short timeframe while being able to work or maintain other commitments. The instructors are praised for their knowledge and willingness to help whenever needed. The supportive community of students is also highlighted as a positive aspect of the experience.
Nucamp’s hands-on learning approach is highly regarded by students. Students appreciate the practical nature of the curriculum, which includes projects, challenges, and teamwork. Reviewers mention that they gained valuable skills and a solid foundation in web development. The interactive learning experience, including coding exercises and projects, helps students apply what they have learned and build their confidence in coding.
Cons: Some Nucamp student reviewers mention minor areas for improvement, such as the pacing of video material or the need for more training in certain tools like GitHub. However, these concerns are overshadowed by the overall positive experience and the benefits gained from the program.
Summary: In conclusion, attending Nucamp provides students with an affordable and flexible option for learning coding skills. The Nucamp program offers comprehensive instruction, practical projects, and a supportive community. Students appreciate the knowledge and assistance of the instructors, as well as the hands-on learning approach. While there may be minor areas for improvement, the overall experience at Nucamp is positive and helps students progress towards their goals in the tech industry.
Learning Format: Online
Program Length: Varies
Graduation Rate: 79%
Job Placement Rate: 77% use skills learned on the job within 6 months
Number of Alumni: 3000+
Program Cost: <$3000
Financing Offers: Women in Tech Scholarship, payment plan, private loans
Job Guarantee: No
Mailing Address: 12707 NE 30th Street, Bellevue, Washington, 98005
Contact Information: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Codestack Academy
Because the program is subsidized by the San Joaquin County Office of Education, students can enjoy all the benefits of a more expensive bootcamp — in-person instruction, project-based lessons, collaborations with peers — at a fraction of the price. Unfortunately, instruction is only available in person, so those not living in the Stockton, CA area might not be able to benefit from the program.
Location: Stockton, CA
Learning Format: In person, days or nights
Program Length: 10 months of instruction, 2-month internship
Program Cost: $5000
Financing Offers: Local scholarships
Job Guarantee: No
Mailing Address: Not available
Contact Information: (833) 263-3209 | Contact form
Verified Student Reviews: The LearningFuze student experience attending the school is overwhelmingly positive. We analyzed verified student reviews submitted in late 2022 and 2023 to learn that students appreciate the knowledgeable and dedicated instructors, the well-structured curriculum, the emphasis on hands-on learning and real-world projects, and the strong focus on career development. LearningFuze is praised for its ability to provide a comprehensive education in a short period of time and equip students with the skills and confidence needed to enter the tech job market.
Pros: A key strength of LearningFuze mentioned by students is the expertise and dedication of the instructors. Students feel supported and guided throughout their learning journey, with instructors who are always available to answer questions, provide feedback, and go above and beyond to help students succeed. The flipped curriculum approach, where students learn through hands-on projects and discussions, is appreciated for its effectiveness in solidifying knowledge and understanding.
The LearningFuze programming curriculum itself is highly regarded for its relevance and inclusion of in-demand technologies. Students feel that LearningFuze covers a wide range of coding topics and prepares them for real-world development environments. The emphasis on career development and job placement assistance is seen as a valuable aspect of the LearningFuze experience. Students mention personalized career coaching, mock interviews, and resume support as beneficial resources provided by the school.
Cons: While the majority of reviews are positive, there are a few mentions of areas where improvement could be made at LearningFuze. Some students suggest refreshing the curriculum to ensure it stays up to date to reflect current practices, while others note minor issues with bugs in the code. However, these concerns are generally overshadowed by the positive experiences students had with the instructors, curriculum, and overall learning environment.
Summary: In conclusion, attending LearningFuze provides students with a high-quality education in web development and coding skills. The school is praised for its knowledgeable instructors, comprehensive curriculum, hands-on learning opportunities, and strong focus on career development. Students feel well-prepared to enter the job market and appreciate the supportive and immersive learning experience provided by LearningFuze. Overall, LearningFuze is recommended as a top choice for individuals looking to gain coding skills and pursue a career in the tech industry.
Learning Format: Online
Program Length: 36 weeks (part-time)
Graduation Rate: Not available
Job Placement Rate: 80.2%
Number of Alumni: Not available
Average Starting Salary: Not available
Hiring Companies: Nike, Apple, Zillow, Verizon
Program Cost: $5,000 per module
Financing Offers: Scholarships, payment plans, private loans
Job Guarantee: No
Mailing Address: 9200 Irvine Center Drive, 2nd Floor, Irvine, CA 92618
Contact Information: (949) 679-7699 | Contact LearningFuze
TrueCoders is another stand-out among affordable coding bootcamps because it offers everything you would expect in a more expensive online coding bootcamp — live instructor sessions, individualized career services, project-based learning — at a budget price. What’s more? Instructors even host regular coding labs where students can work together on fun and industry-relevant projects. There’s also a Discord where students can get together after hours.
Our only hesitations about TrueCoders are the length of the program — 9 weeks, which seems a little short to learn everything needed to land an entry-level coding job — and the length of the days. While many full-time coding bootcamps are 40 hours per week, TrueCoders bootcamps only run from 9 am to 3 pm.
Verified Student Reviews: We analyzed verified student reviews submitted in 2023 for TrueCoders and so far we’ve discovered that student experience attending the school’s programs is generally positive. Students appreciate the knowledgeable instructors, well-structured program, hands-on learning opportunities, and supportive community. However, some TrueCoders students express concerns about job placement assistance and the expectation of immediate job placement upon completion of the program.
Pros: One of the strengths of TrueCoders mentioned by students is the knowledge and dedication of the instructors. Students feel that the instructors are passionate about teaching and provide valuable support and guidance throughout the program. TrueCoders is praised for its holistic curriculum, covering various programming languages and technologies, and the hands-on projects that help students apply their skills.
The supportive learning environment is highlighted as another positive aspect of the TrueCoders experience. Students mention the availability of one-on-one sessions with instructors, the helpfulness of the staff, and the sense of community among students. Weekly career services meetings are appreciated for providing guidance and support in pursuing job opportunities.
Cons: However, some students express disappointment with job placement assistance. While TrueCoders programs offer career services and job placement support, some students mention that they did not secure a job immediately after completing the program. It is important to note that job placement in the software engineering field can depend on various factors, including external networks and individual efforts.
Summary: In conclusion, attending TrueCoders provides students with a valuable learning experience and the opportunity to develop coding skills. The program is praised for its knowledgeable instructors, comprehensive curriculum, and supportive community. However, students should be aware that job placement may not be guaranteed immediately after completion and that individual efforts and networking play a role in securing employment. Overall, TrueCoders offers a solid foundation in software engineering and provides students with the skills and support necessary to pursue a career in the field.
Learning Format: Live online
Program Length: 9 weeks, full-time
Program Cost: $8,500
Financing Offers: Private loans, PayPal financing
Job Guarantee: No
Mailing Address: Not available
Contact Information: (205) 843-7103 | email@example.com
Free Coding Bootcamps
42 is a European mutual-aid group that leverages gamification and peer-to-peer learning to offer free, effective coding instruction to students all over the world. 42 prioritized openness and inclusivity, with some courses reserved for groups historically marginalized in tech. Courses will always be free, and 42 boasts 100% job placement after completion of their core curriculum.
Codecademy’s basic access plan allows students to participate in free coding courses such as “Intro to ChatGPT,” “Learn SQL,” and “Learn HTML.” These beginner-friendly courses allow students to learn core coding skills and apply them through independent projects, all on their own schedule. If students want to access more features or take more advanced courses, they are able to upgrade their membership to a paid plan.
3. MIT Open Courseware
MIT Open Courseware’s Introduction to Computer Science and Programming in Python allows coding novices to experience a college-level programming course from a world-renowned technical university, absolutely free. Students get access to lecture videos and notes, as well as problem sets. But since there is little student:student or student:instructor interaction, this course is best for 1) those who are merely curious about coding but not yet looking to switch careers and 2) auto-didacts who are skilled at learning in a low-touch environment.
What are some other ways to make a coding bootcamp a safe investment?
If you’d prefer to take advantage of the services provided at a traditional coding bootcamp, there are several ways to make attending one more financially viable, including income share agreements and job guarantee contracts.
Income Share Agreements
In an income share agreement (ISA), the bootcamp offers students the opportunity to attend their program without any upfront cost. Instead, the student agrees to pay back a percentage of their income once they secure a job. It's important to note that the amount ultimately repaid through the ISA can exceed the advertised tuition, essentially making it a form of loan. The government is increasingly regulating ISAs as loans and ensuring they are advertised as such.
Since ISAs can involve a significant portion of your monthly income, they are most beneficial for students who lack the upfront funds to pay for a bootcamp and plan to work in a city with a lower cost of living, which facilitates easier repayment. It is crucial to thoroughly review and understand all the terms and conditions outlined in the ISA before entering into such an agreement, just as it is with job guarantees or any financial commitment.
Job Guarantee Contracts
Job guarantees are another way for students to make a bootcamp less of a financial risk. Essentially, a job placement guarantee ensures that students who successfully complete the bootcamp will secure employment. If a student fails to find a job within a specified timeframe, they may become eligible for a full or partial refund.
Job guarantees can be beneficial for both the bootcamp and the students in the long run. A higher number of successfully employed alumni enhances the perceived value of the bootcamp's education. On the other hand, individuals seeking to switch careers may view a bootcamp with a job guarantee as a more secure investment.
That said, students banking on job guarantees must be careful: often there are a number of stipulations attached to these guarantees that can be difficult for job seekers to fulfill. The jobs that release the bootcamp provider from the guarantee can also sometimes be less than ideal. To learn more, check out our article on job placement.
In this article, we’ve covered the advantages and drawbacks of cheap coding bootcamps and given you our picks of great programs to help you get your research started. If you want more guidance as you research bootcamps, get matched today.