Coding Bootcamps experienced substantial levels of growth in 2020. Not only is capital being invested into coding schools, but the projections for the success of coding bootcamps aren't showing signs of slowing down.
Verified Market Research reports that the coding bootcamp market ballooned to $399 million in 2018 and is on track to more than double that by 2026. That's an incredible but not altogether unexpected volume of growth for a business that’s reaching peak interest during a time when we’re all at home. After all, many people are spending the time at home during the pandemic and trying to skill up to ensure that their expertise is providing value for their companies for the long term.
This is a core function of a coding bootcamp, because of how difficult it is to find qualified programmers. Software developer jobs (according to the BLS) command an average of just over $110,000 per year, and the projected job growth for a software developer is over 20%. This is a field rapidly expanding. Though more and more jobs get posted seeking new and experienced developers, you still have to ask the question any coding bootcamp student would ask themselves before officially attending: Do coding bootcamps work?
They do, but you need to have a sense of how to get your return on investment and also how to navigate the challenges of choosing one. This article will discuss the nature of coding boot camps, what makes them effective, and where a prospective applicant needs to use more scrutiny when evaluating their options.
What is a Coding Bootcamp?
A coding boot camp is a highly immersive training program aimed at students that have a basic technical background. This type of student wants to pursue software development, data science, and user experience design, however, they want to be able to complete their education in a far shorter time than in their undergraduate or graduate study.
Enter the ‘coding course.’ Coding boot camps offer the ability to give students deep expertise in a particular coding language or discipline in an average of 15 weeks of learning. Students see coding bootcamps as a fantastic option to either advance in the field or pursue a career change in the programming field. Coding boot camps are offered online or in physical facilities across the United States and the world. However, many of these physical locations have been temporarily shut down to maintain safety during the global pandemic. Regardless of location, students continue to pursue fields like data science, cybersecurity, and software engineering by completing either full or part-time courses.
What Makes a Coding Bootcamp Worth Your Time?
A coding bootcamp is more than just a 4-6 month intensive spent coding. They also offer connections to other people in the field, assistance in landing a coding job, the flexibility to learn the coding skills that tech companies are hiring for based on your schedule, and the rising demand for a web developer. Let’s review why someone would opt for a bootcamp experience.
- Building and learning from a network of coding professionals you can tap into. Learning alongside other prospective developers is a great way to make long-term friendships and business relationships. Many coding bootcamps are highly selective or selective based on the interests of those applying, so the process acts as a natural filter to connect you with other aspiring web developers. While the earlier weeks of a bootcamp feature solo projects and ramp up your knowledge of programming languages, the later weeks feature group projects that build a tighter relationship with your cohort.
Alumni networks are always great resources to tap into, but as you advance in your career fewer and fewer people take advantage of them. We see the strengths and weaknesses of alumni networks in coding bootcamps similar to any other alumni network: Your ability to network will be key to making it work for you. Many coding bootcamps advertise big alumni numbers to entice applicants, but your ability to develop relationships with other students in an online coding bootcamp is fundamental.
- Job placement (or a job guarantee). Many boot camps offer job placement assistance after becoming a boot camp grad. However, the success of job placement programs for students that attend is a bit murky, largely because the statistics for the effectiveness of these programs are self-reported without a transparent methodology. It’s best to review the Council for Integrity and Results Reporting (CIRR) standards and data for bootcamps that are independently audited, as well as look closely at the reporting methodology for bootcamps that self-report.
- More flexible than a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. Everyone’s schedule is different. You can search for a coding school that offers full-time immersion or a longer part-time course depending on what pace you want to go. Most in-person bootcamps offer a full or part-time schedule and the same is true for those pursuing their education online.
- Costs are less than a four-year degree program. Many aspiring software engineers look at cost and testimonials (word-of-mouth referrals from boot camp grads) as a key reason for why they’re choosing a coding bootcamp. No surprise here. On average, a six-month coding bootcamp can be completed eight times faster and cost far less than a four-year computer science bachelor’s degree. However, this makes choosing a reputable online coding bootcamp mission-critical, as their university degree counterparts are “vetted and accredited” each year.
Considering the time and money you’d be investing in your education, it’s critical that you enter a program that fits your skill set and desired salary and job outcomes.
Finding the Right Coding Bootcamp Near You
If you’re a learner that absorbs complex concepts in areas like data science and web development better in person, you need to ask the questions that will guide you to the best coding bootcamp for your ability within a reasonable distance to your home. (Note that during the pandemic, most of these courses are being offered online.)
Here’s a checklist of five questions to ask yourself when searching for a coding bootcamp in your city or state:
- What job title do you want after completing this coding bootcamp? Are tech companies hiring for jobs nearby or will you have to relocate once you become a bootcamp grad?
- How much of a factor is the overall cost of attending a coding school? Is this a cost you can pay up front or will you require scholarships and financing? Bootcamps offer flexibility and financing options for students at different income levels. (For example, a bootcamp like Coding Dojo has different cost tiers based on the program you choose.)
- Are the courses you want in a specific topic (e.g. a data science bootcamp, machine learning, cyber security, etc.) offered locally or will you need to attend an online coding bootcamp to find those courses?
- Do you have an existing proficiency? If you already have a software engineering background, computer science degree, or existing coding skill, you may be a bit more advanced than what’s taught in boot camps built to help learn foundational programming. You may be a better fit for a bootcamp like Hack Reactor, a highly selective program that reports a 99% job placement rate within the first three months.
- Once you become a coding bootcamp grad, do you want to work at a large company or a startup? Ask admissions counselors if they have partnerships or act as a feeder program for any of the companies you’re interested in.
If you thoroughly research your bootcamps, carefully evaluate the outcome data, and have a strong point of view about what programming languages you’d want to learn or direction for your career, a coding bootcamp can work well for you. The biggest missteps taken during the coding bootcamp application process is typically a lack of preparation.
Best Coding Bootcamps matches students to bootcamps that best fit their needs, as well as provides articles to help ask the right questions while you’re researching. Find the best coding bootcamp that works for both your budget and your career goals.