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Coding Bootcamp Job Guarantee: The Most Important Things to Know

January 12, 2022

Here’s the worst kept secret about attending a coding bootcamp: Almost 100% of the students are there to transform their careers. They know the opportunities for a software engineer profession are expected to grow well above the American median by 2030 and aren’t shy about being compensated to build the future of the internet.

Coding bootcamp companies are also well aware of the potential of the market and - like undergraduate or master’s programs - have a symbiotic relationship with current and future bootcamp grads: As the programming bootcamp outcomes data improves, so does the reputation and the long-term value of that program. As the reputation improves, the more attractive its alumni are to a prospective hiring manager.

In theory, that’s a win-win for all sides. And if that’s the case, wouldn’t it be a natural move to join a coding bootcamp that features a job guarantee on its list of benefits? After all, a bootcamp grad wouldn’t be on the hook for their upfront or deferred tuition if they can’t get a job.

As you probably already know, there are a few strings (no pun intended) attached to coding bootcamp with a job guarantee. This guide will help you make sense of the agreement you sign. Here are some of the questions we’ll answer:

  • How does a job guarantee work for a prospective coding bootcamp student and the coding bootcamp?
  • How can you really evaluate outcome data? What effect does a job guarantee have on those numbers?
  • What are some of the key questions a future coding bootcamp graduate wants to look out for when reading the fine print on a coding boot camp job guarantee?
  • Are job guarantees offered by both in-person and online coding bootcamps?

As you pursue education to help you become a software developer and learn a new programming language, remember that your goal as a coding bootcamp student is to secure full-time employment in the field. This is where it helps to know how job guarantees work.

How Does a Coding Bootcamp Job Guarantee Work?

Let’s begin with shedding some light on how a job guarantee for a coding bootcamp works. Coding bootcamps have both a long-term incentive and an immediate marketing incentive for a bootcamp grad to secure a good web development role or accept a position as a software developer or data scientist. This is for a good reason: Bootcamp graduates that do secure a software engineering role after graduation help validate the reputation, rigor, and preparedness of that student after their instruction. Ensuring a student succeeds is personally and professionally rewarding.

However, there are also two important roles a job guarantee plays for the coding bootcamp. First, it can potentially improve the bootcamp’s overall graduation outcomes data. The outcomes data includes success metrics like graduation rate, median starting salary, and successful job placement percentage. Second, the boot camp can claim in their marketing campaigns that a job guarantee can help offset the risk of dedicating time and tuition dollars to a program. The promise of a “money-back guarantee” on tuition if a student doesn’t land a job after graduation might be attractive to a prospective data scientist, UX designer, or full-stack developer.

The real question you should be asking: Will a job guarantee truly mean less risk for you in the long run?

Maybe or maybe not. Before we get to the important tips you need to make a smart decision about enrolling in a coding bootcamp with a job guarantee, we should briefly shed some light on the benefits and outcomes that prospective students find attractive: a high job placement rate, career services support, career coaching, and graduation rates. (For more on this, you can also look at our coding boot camp preparation guide.) These outcomes might be influenced by an in-person or online coding bootcamp with a job guarantee, so let’s learn how to make sense of the data.

Coding Bootcamp Job Guarantee: How it Affects Outcomes Data

One underreported aspect of coding bootcamp outcomes is how the data is affected by a job placement guarantee. Suppose you’re highly motivated to land a career in the cybersecurity industry. You plan to enroll in a cybersecurity bootcamp, complete every course on network security and threat intelligence, and then hit the job market. Prior to enrollment, you notice that the program you’re most interested in reports a high rate of bootcamp grads securing jobs post-graduation. All of this points to the aforementioned cybersecurity bootcamp as a strong option for you.

Note, however, that the coding bootcamp includes a job guarantee as a benefit for those prospective grads who complete the course. If the job guarantee includes bootcamp students that were placed internally at the bootcamp in an instructor role or jobs offered to the students outside their desired field (e.g. a think tank that needs someone skilled in Python but not in a high-demand data science role), this will naturally inflate the success metrics of that bootcamp.

You’ll want to be sure to ask the admissions representative at the coding bootcamps you are interested in offering a job guarantee of what percentage of the post-graduation jobs metrics include students hired in-house. This allows you to gauge the earning potential of a post-bootcamp job should you decide to pursue an opportunity within the bootcamp or with a partner. This will also come up when reading the fine print.

Coding Bootcamp Guarantee: Reading the Fine Print

Assuming you’ve taken the steps to prepare for a future as a coding professional, you know you have to evaluate your return on investment (ROI). A coding bootcamp’s individual job guarantee and job placement outcomes can and should be a factor. There are, however, the right questions to ask when looking at an agreement:

  • Does the job guarantee a full-time job (with benefits) or does it also include freelance or part-time work? Remember, when you started evaluating coding bootcamps, you did so with cost in mind. It’s natural to project your future earnings to include a full-time role in a software engineering capacity. However, some job guarantees also count part-time or freelance work as employment.
  • Does the job guarantee give a sufficient minimum salary for your region? If you reside in a lower-cost city like Salt Lake City, you might be happy starting a career as a developer at a $50,000 salary. However, that starting salary probably isn’t sufficient in a pricier city like New York, particularly if you need to pay back a bootcamp loan, expenses, and rent.
  • What percentage of students paying back a job guarantee are working as instructors at the coding bootcamp? While we know many coding bootcamp instructors have long backgrounds in previous software engineering roles, others (and we feel this can be a strength) employ recent coding bootcamp graduates that completed the one you’re considering enrolling at. Again, there are some real benefits to this: a fresh perspective on the courses being offered by a qualified student, recommendations for completing some of the coding challenges, online resources that helped when they were on their way to becoming a bootcamp graduate (which is particularly relevant since most formats have moved to the online coding bootcamp due to the emergence of COVID-19 variants), and finally a natural introduction to other alumni.We’re aware that good instructors have a variety of different backgrounds as developers. It’s good to keep in mind, however, that the coding school’s job guarantee (and outcomes data) may have required them to consider and accept the instructor position should they be unable to secure other employment. In a job market that sometimes ebbs and flows with a region’s response to the pandemic, this is an important question to ask when weighing the pros and cons of deferred tuition with a job guarantee.

As you’ll learn when immersing yourself in a programming language, it's critically important for a software engineer to follow every step and avoid the pitfalls.

Coding Bootcamp Job Guarantee: Avoiding The Pitfalls

In a world where either a pandemic or bad luck can be a reality, here are some traps that students should avoid if they’re serious about exercising the job guarantee clause after you enroll:

  • Don’t miss any of your courses or understand how much absentee time is allowed. We’ve seen many job guarantees for web development bootcamps require students to attend most of the courses. This is a fair request of both the student and the bootcamp, but it’s worth mentioning considering that the COVID-19 pandemic could keep you out unexpectedly. Make sure to learn if any illness exceptions will apply. (We’d recommend that you pay particular attention to this as a student financing through deferred tuitions or ISAs.)
  • Understand the application requirements. To ensure coding bootcamp graduates are putting themselves in the best position to be hired, you will also likely work alongside career services advisors to verify your employment efforts. Look through the job guarantee language to make sure the burden on you to show paperwork isn’t harder than applying for the web development position itself.
  • Is accepting the initial job offer a requirement? As we mention throughout our guides, a career as a software engineer or in web development is one of the hottest paths you can take in the country over the next ten years. However, the first offer you get isn’t always the best one. Does a lowball offer in web development mean the program has satisfied its promise to get you hired? As we mentioned above and in our Cost of Coding Bootcamps guide, a coding bootcamp grad that accepts a salary too low to meet their region’s cost of living won’t start a career in web development on the strongest foot.

Our Verdict

A coding bootcamp job guarantee can provide some sense of relief for someone transitioning into a computer science field. While we see the upside for some students, we remain firm in our belief that all prospective coding bootcamp graduates factor in the true cost of tuition (including their out-of-pocket cost and all interest related to financing) to calculate their available budget. Relying on tuition forgiveness in the event you were not able to secure a role in data science or web development is a gamble we wouldn’t make for ourselves or recommend to our loved ones. A job guarantee is an effective marketing tactic for bootcamps, but the career coaching requirements, a hot job market, and some of the minimum requirements work more in the favor of the bootcamp than the student.

We like that there is a subset of students who benefit from the coding bootcamp job guarantee, but we are certainly impressed by programs like Coding Dojo and other coding bootcamp providers who are highly transparent about why they don’t have a job guarantee. It’s a powerful testament that their above-average employment data only includes metrics gained from student-led job searches or hiring partners that prefer their bootcamp graduates.

If you feel you’re a student that can benefit from a coding bootcamp job guarantee - or want to find a bootcamp that doesn’t include one - click to get matched to the programming bootcamp of your choice.