Can Coding Bootcamps Really Help You Jumpstart A New Career?

 

If you are trying to launch a career in computer programming, you probably have seen advertisements for coding bootcamps, though you might not be sure exactly what they are or how they work.  These advertisements promise you that you can get a job in your field along with valuable training, but is the cost of the tuition they charge worth it?

What Is a Coding Bootcamp?

If you have taken any college programming classes, you know that there is often a heavy emphasis on lecture with not nearly enough lab time.  Well, a coding bootcamp is the answer to that problem.  Most programs last 8 to 12 weeks, and are designed to offer the intensive training you need to get right to work.  Coding bootcamps are far less expensive than traditional four year university programs, and are sometimes even free.

Coding bootcamps are quite popular; there are more than 90 of them in the US and Canada alone.  These programs help out both employers and job candidate; candidates save money on their education (it is pretty tough to afford a university degree nowadays), and employers get access to a larger candidate pool to fill the employment gap in the tech field.

Are the Promises of Coding Bootcamps Realistic?

If you have been looking at coding bootcamp ads, you probably have seen some pretty startling claims.  Some bootcamps may even “guarantee” you an income, making you wonder if you can immediately graduate right into working for a top-notch tech company like AgileLab.

Well, the answer is “maybe, maybe not.”  Coding bootcamps can help you score a job (while saving money on your education), but nobody can guarantee you placement.  One online platform called SwitchUp was established in 2014 to provide some transparency by shedding some light on the effectiveness of various bootcamps around the world.  Here are some of the company’s survey findings:

  • 63% of coding bootcamp graduates reported that their salaries increased.
  • 80% of students who graduated from a bootcamp program said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the experience.
  • Class sizes are small—around 30 students on average.

So coding bootcamps definitely can make a difference.  If you have limited time and money for your education and you just want to get to work, a coding bootcamp may be more sensible than a four year degree.  Still, groups like the National Consumers League urge caution.  Basically, if a coding bootcamp says that they have a 90% (or higher) placement rate, they probably are making a false claim.  

What to Look For in a Coding Bootcamp

  • Proper licensing to operate in your state
  • Good but realistic statistics and claims about placement rates
  • The languages and development tools you are looking to learn
  • The right time commitment and cost to fit your needs
  • A schedule which also fits with yours; there are both fulltime and part-time bootcamps out there
  • A location which works for you (online and offline options are available; if you go with an offline bootcamp, make sure it is in a city where you want to work—you will probably network locally to find a job)

What to Avoid in a Coding Bootcamp

  • Unlicensed bootcamps
  • Bootcamps which make promises they cannot possibly deliver on (avoid any bootcamp which uses a word like “guarantee”)
  • Bad reviews from past students
  • Bootcamps which refuse to share information about average graduates (as opposed to the outliers earning $100,000+)

A Quality Coding Bootcamp May Be Able to Help You Break Into the Field of Computer Programming

Is a coding bootcamp the way to go?  It all depends on your situation, needs and goals.  If you want a comprehensive broad view of the coding world with plenty of context, a four year degree may suit you best.  But if you want to dive into coding and possibly land a job within a few months, coding bootcamp may be just what you are looking for.

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