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Salary After Attending a Coding Bootcamp: What to Know

November 10, 2021

“If I’m attending a coding bootcamp, what salary can I expect to make afterward?”

It’s a refreshing and responsible question to ask in a country with a substantial load of student debt following graduate and undergraduate study. In this article, we’re going to take a deep look into the job market for a coding bootcamp graduate, tips for evaluating your return on investment (ROI) including those taking out a private student loan and financial aid, and how to carefully evaluate the outcomes data provided by a coding school.

Outcomes are the numbers coding bootcamps routinely publish to reach students trying to learn the same thing you are: what a realistic developer salary is available to them as a graduate.

There are many other examples of outcomes data that we’ll cover, but a few important metrics are:

  • Bootcamp graduation rates
  • Typical salary increase after earning a job as a developer or junior developer
  • Average starting salary of a bootcamp graduate
  • Job placement rates
  • Percentage of graduates placed in full-time positions in software engineering, data science, cybersecurity, or UX positions within 6 months of graduating

Before we dive into specific salary questions, we need to look at the rising demand for developers in general. This will give us a baseline for why thousands of job postings continue to get shared daily by startups and incumbents alike. U.S. companies are experiencing a modern gold rush for the best software engineering talent.

Applying to a coding bootcamp in an in-demand market

The current American jobs numbers are an encouraging sign as COVID vaccinations reach mass adoption and hybrid (as opposed to fully remote) work becomes the norm. However, these positive numbers are inclusive of the entire general population. More encouraging to the aspiring software developer specifically, record investment is rolling into venture-backed startups, and the labor projections remain bullish on the market demand for developer talent now and over the next decade.

From New York to Los Angeles and Austin to Atlanta, it’s simply an exciting time to work in the tech industry. However, navigating a career path in the field means making a smart investment upfront.

Let’s look in-depth at evaluating how your tuition cost and time spent in a reputable bootcamp can set you up for success, as well as what to watch out for to avoid committing to a coding school without knowing how to spot red flags or gaps in their graduation outcomes reporting.

Understanding graduation outcomes to weigh the benefits of attending your coding bootcamp

Spoiler alert: You aren’t automatically walking into a company and receiving a paycheck just because demand is high and the market for developers is hot. You also don’t want to bet on immediately starting at a six-figure salary as an entry-level or junior developer. In order to choose a reputable bootcamp who invests a premium on producing the best web development talent it can, here are some salary and graduation outcomes questions to review with a school’s admissions advisor:

  • Is the starting salary you list inclusive of all developers or isolated to the ones who graduated from your bootcamp? Remember, you’re most interested in this particular program’s outcomes and not the general state of the job market. Your goal is getting a signal of how successful their previous bootcamp grads were following their part-time or full-time coursework.
  • Does this tech bootcamp use median starting salary data? This is a better indicator than average starting salary numbers if they’re available. Average salaries can include major outliers that skews the data in a bootcamp’s favor. (For reference, coding bootcamps like Hack Reactor & Alchemy Code Lab do a good job of reporting the median graduate salary data.) You ideally want to estimate your future developer salary without using data from a developer hired for big bucks at their parent’s law firm.
  • Is the salary and outcomes data validated by a third-party entity like the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR) or an auditor? You should always do your own due diligence, but knowing that someone else has double-checked the data is a major plus. It is also an indicator that the bootcamp school is invested in transparency and committed to placing their graduates into the workforce.
  • Is all the reporting on developer salary outcomes inclusive of careers in software engineering, web development, data analytics, etc.? Whether you’re attending a paid or a free coding bootcamp, if you’re spending 16-28 weeks in a course and your eventual job isn’t in the field, wouldn’t you ask why you spent four months learning a programming language (or six)? We suspect after four months of Javascript and React, you may want to apply that knowledge and earn a salary reflective of the demand for those languages. (Call us crazy).
  • Is the annual salary data listed for full-time jobs? Sometimes people will project out what a full-time salary would be relative to an hourly wage. This is not at all how to calculate salary information and we’re highly critical of this practice. Most reputable boot camp programs do not do this, so watch out for these types of tactics.

Understanding reported salary numbers and graduation outcomes is one of your first steps in deciding whether a coding bootcamp education will be worth it. After all, a long-term salary increase that factors in the cost of a coding bootcamp tuition and your personal budgets and projections will be a driver for your career and the budget you allocate toward your coding school. It is particularly important for students who are financing their programming bootcamp with loan instruments like deferred tuition or private loans through Meritize or Ascent. This makes sense: If you have a high APR or monthly educational tuition bill, you need a job with a salary that allows you to cover your expenses.

Future earnings is a major reason to attend a coding bootcamp: there’s no other way around it. You can learn more about considering the cost of a coding bootcamp in our complete guide.

Three tips for estimating your salary after a coding bootcamp

Now that you know how to research the national demand for developers and the coding bootcamp salary and outcomes data objectively, there are three equally important tips we’ll share with prospective students considering a high-value, reputable bootcamp:

  1. Be able to know the regional differences in median and average salaries between a software developer in New York and one in Boston. Knowing both the salary and cost of living differences will help you ask the admissions advisor if their job placement data is cumulative or whether it covers the region you’re interested in.
  2. Learn the average placement time from graduation to offer letter acceptance. You’ll be able to better calculate your desired salary if you look at the market rate for your coding bootcamp skill in your city and estimate how long you’ll spend as a job seeker.
  3. Lean into the programming bootcamps with the most transparency in developer salary and coding career data. The bootcamps that share the most information with their students are often the best coding bootcamps from an education and outcomes perspective. That type of transparency will likely trickle down into course curriculums, job placement rate, extra help on the toughest coding challenge, and more.

Conclusion: ask the right salary questions after being matched to a coding bootcamp

Becoming a web developer is both highly challenging and highly rewarding. Coding bootcamps help unlock an in-demand career primarily held by students that typically had a CS degree and substantial coding skill at the outset.

As coding bootcamps continue to provide new developers with the skills needed to succeed in the workforce, the career trajectory and salary path are certainly available to the type of grad that works the hardest and loves to code. It’s important to ensure you work as hard at understanding the marketplace, the demand and positions available to new developers, and the salary you can realistically expect to earn.

Get matched with the right coding bootcamp now and start comparing some of the outcomes data we mentioned above.