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How to Get Into a Coding Bootcamp

September 10, 2021

Curiously, one of the most overlooked parts of a coding bootcamp is actually getting into the coding bootcamp. Each has its own selection criteria, financing options, and curriculums that are suited for different learners. And as the coding bootcamp industry continues to grow, more and more students will need to understand the process. Whether you're pursuing web development, data science, UX design, front end, back end, or full stack development, having a plan to apply for a coding bootcamp is the first step in the process.

While Best Coding Bootcamps specializes in matching students to the right boot camp for their situation, you still need to get in. This guide will be a primer on how to go from aspiring software engineer or data scientist to an enrolled student.

1: Start with Why: Understand your motivation for learning to code.

In one of the most viewed marketing videos of all time, Simon Sinek gives the audience at TED some earnest advice: start with why. The same advice is given to aspiring boot camp grads. Before doing anything in life, you always need to consider your motivations. Being successful in a coding bootcamp requires the right motivations with well-informed decision making.

Identifying your reasons for attending a coding bootcamp will be a north star for how much you invest in your program. The level of effort you put into a rigorous education, the time investment you make in preparing your coding bootcamp interview, and the career path you plan on pursuing will all stem from your motivation for learning to code.

2: Research the Coding Bootcamp Requirements. Theirs and yours.

Much like choosing an undergraduate degree, the proper preparation is needed to choose the right boot camp. There’s a good reason for this: As the number of universities and educational businesses launching an online bootcamp increases, more and more options are available to students with different educational and financial backgrounds.

Let's say you have a background in software engineering or computer science. You've been a strong student and a dedicated worker your entire career and you’ve demonstrated an understanding of programming languages but haven’t been able to advance. It wouldn't make sense to invest four months and $15,000 on concepts that you're already familiar with. Instead, you may want to focus on more competitive full-stack coding bootcamps like Hack Reactor or the Flatiron School which are famously selective.

Perhaps you have an advanced degree in an engineering field. If you were intent on pursuing a career in data science, you may opt for a bootcamp like Insight Data Science, which has extensive prerequisites in data science and software engineering in order to apply. In this case it helps to research the syllabus and review the outcomes (including salary) from previous bootcamp grads who took the course.

On the other hand perhaps you’re coming into your bootcamp a bit more green -- shifting from a non-technical career and now pursuing a career as a programmer. The most in-demand programmers are full-stack developers and most of the coding bootcamps feature a full-time and a part-time intensive to develop those coding skills. Lengthy courses are referred to as “intensive” for a reason. Students looking to be hired by companies as a full stack developer would have rigorous training in Javascript, React, HTML5, Python, Ruby, and SQL in as few as 12 weeks.

(Note: At this point if you’ve researched and inquired about how schools are addressing the pandemic, you also realize that all of the courses are currently set up in a virtual classroom. Make no mistake. An online coding bootcamp is as intense as the education you get in person and allows immediate collaboration with your classroom and instructor.)

3: Budget for Your Coding Bootcamp

Now that you've narrowed down the coding bootcamps that you want to apply to, you should have a good idea of how much your program will cost you. On average, coding bootcamp tuition is $13,500. That's a substantial investment to make for the next four to six months.

As coding bootcamps became more and more popular, different financing options have opened up to prospective students.

  • Personal investment. All coding bootcamps allow you to pay out of pocket with either cash or credit. If you and your financial advisor believe this is the best route, you may want to consider which credit cards will be the most beneficial for accumulating points.
  • Income Share Agreements: Certain programs will offer an income share agreement (or ISA for short). These ISA agreements stipulate that the tuition cost for the bootcamp will be deferred until after you land a job. This generally means that there is no cost upfront, and a portion of each of your paychecks will go toward paying back your coding bootcamp experience. The tradeoff is that in return for deferred future payment, the tuition will be elevated to a higher cost.
  • Third Party Financing Options: Coding bootcamps accept a host of third-party financing options and loans. Companies like Meritize and Ascent are two popular options geared toward financing professional training for prospective students.
  • Coding Bootcamp Scholarships: For almost every coding bootcamp program, there are tech scholarships awarded for each cohort of students. These scholarships are generally geared toward specific demographics such as underrepresented groups, the LGBTQ+ community, military veterans, and those who are looking to make a career transition. There are also scholarships offered based on needs and life experiences of prospective students. Some of these scholarships require full written essays or short form written responses.

4: Get Matched with a Coding Bootcamp

Now that you thoroughly researched what you want out of a boot camp and what the ideal bootcamp will help you accomplish, you're in a position to get matched with a coding bootcamp. You can begin the matching process here. Best coding bootcamps will take your inputs and provide you with several coding bootcamps that fit your criteria.

5: Apply for Your Coding Bootcamp

After you’re matched with a coding bootcamp that fits the coding skills and type of career you want to pursue, you may want to take one more step before applying. Coding bootcamps offer an informative informal session on how the boot camp works and what it takes to be successful. Coding Dojo, for example, offers one-to-one informational sessions or an open house where multiple prospective applicants can get answers to questions about the curriculum, job placement after becoming a bootcamp grad, and other career services the bootcamp offers.

Before you apply, students are encouraged to brush up on the basics and fundamentals of JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Coding bootcamps will provide free or low-cost foundational courses that you will be expected to complete prior to your start date. In the application and technical interview, most reputable coding bootcamps require you to demonstrate a basic understanding of coding so you’re not going into an intensive without a basic understanding of programming logic. It’s in their long-term interest to ensure students can achieve the highest return on their investment and pass on their experience to friends.

The interview typically is split into two parts: one that tests how committed you are to this career shift, and another part that usually includes a coding assessment. The introductory courses in programming basics most bootcamps offer, freemium sites like Codeacademy, and sites like Khan Academy can help prepare you for an assessment that can typically be completed in 30 minutes.

6: Enroll & Begin Your Coding Bootcamp

Congratulations -- you’ve been accepted into an on-ground or online coding bootcamp if you’re at the enrollment process. You and your class of future coding bootcamp graduates are on track to be a software developer, data science professional, cybersecurity professional, or UX designer.

Get excited about the projects you’ll be assigned. Begin to work with others in your class to solve problems and answer any questions you may have. Before you know it, you and your class will be bootcamp graduates ready to enter the workforce. Ensuring you’ve built lasting relationships and graduating with a network are as important as anything you’ll learn in the classroom. Remember: while many schools provide a new software developer with career services, you are your own best advocate.