Coding bootcamps have grown in popularity recently among people looking to start a career in tech without going back to college. Bootcamps are short, intensive code schools designed to help people train for a specific type of tech job, like data scientist or full stack web developer. With so many coding bootcamps on the market today, it can be difficult to know how to choose a coding bootcamp.
There are full-time bootcamps, in-person coding bootcamps, and bootcamps for everything from cyber security to digital marketing. To choose the right coding bootcamp, you need to define your career goals and the type of learning format you want. In this article, we’ll take you step by step through the factors you need to consider to pick a coding bootcamp that is right for you.
How to Choose a Coding Bootcamp: 8 Things to Consider
There are a couple of factors you should consider thinking about how to choose a coding bootcamp. By considering these factors upfront, you’re more likely to get accepted into a coding bootcamp that meets your unique needs and helps you achieve your career goals.
Your Background and Career Goals
The first things to consider when picking a coding bootcamp are your professional goals and your educational background. A bootcamp takes time and money, so you want to make sure you pick a program that sets you up for the career you want. You also want to choose a program that fits your level of prior experience.
A great way to define your goals and get a clear picture of your background is to ask yourself a series of questions. Here are a few questions you should consider when choosing a coding bootcamp:
- Do you have any level of college degree in a tech field or non-tech field?
- Do you enjoy self-paced learning, or do you prefer fast-paced and intense programs?
- Do you like to work alone, or do you prefer to work in a team?
- What do you like about graphic design, problem-solving, data analysis, detailed tasks, and brainstorming?
- What technologies do you need to learn for your dream job?
Another factor that might affect which coding bootcamp you choose is the bootcamp format. Bootcamps vary in whether students learn in-person, online, or in a hybrid format. Some bootcamps are single schools, while others are part of multi-city bootcamp chains. There are even bootcamps that are affiliated with universities. Each format has its own pros and cons.
In-Person Coding Bootcamps
In-person coding bootcamps are bootcamps that serve local students in a particular area. Many bootcamps start as a local campus, then expand if there’s a growing demand for their services. The advantage of going to in-person bootcamps is that they know the ins and outs of the local labor market. This is a great type of bootcamp if you want to work for a local tech company.
Online Coding Bootcamps
Online coding bootcamps are coding bootcamps that students attend online. The advantage of going to an online coding bootcamp is that you can study from anywhere. This type of bootcamp is great because you can still attend a bootcamp, even if you don’t have an in-person bootcamp nearby.
You’ll also have more flexibility as an online bootcamp student. While online bootcamps do require a certain time commitment, you’ll still be able to work on your own schedule. Online bootcamps use a wide variety of technologies to connect students with instructors and mentors. They also have online communities for students to connect and learn together.
Hybrid Coding Bootcamps
Hybrid coding bootcamps are very rare, most offer only in-person or online options. With a hybrid bootcamp, classes meet both in-person and online, or classes meet online and there are in-person events and workshops.
University Coding Bootcamps
University coding bootcamps are usually developed in partnership with for-profit education providers and are not connected to the school’s computer science degree program. You’ll attend the university campus if you are an in-person student, but the instructors are hired by the bootcamp company rather than the university.
The advantage of going to a university bootcamp is that they often have a standardized syllabus and you’ll earn a certificate with the name of the university on it. When you’re thinking about how to choose a programming bootcamp, it’s useful to know that most university bootcamps have an alumni discount.
Coding Bootcamp Chains
Bootcamp chains are often built as a local bootcamp grows and opens new branches in multiple locations. As a student, going to this type of coding bootcamp is worth considering because the school knows the local job market well. If you want to work for a local company, going to a bootcamp chain with a local branch can be a good investment.
You should be aware that sometimes chains can have inconsistent quality. This is because each branch will have its own instructors, faculty, and services. When you are choosing a coding bootcamp, make sure you talk to students of a specific bootcamp location before you enroll in a program at a bootcamp chain.
It’s easier to choose the right coding bootcamp if you know where you want to go. If you choose to study in person, you can either study in your home city or treat your bootcamp experience as a travel opportunity and go abroad. There are a few things you should consider when you’re deciding where to attend a bootcamp:
- Do you want to study online or in person?
- Where do you want to work after graduation?
- Do you need to stay in your current city?
- Are you already near a good bootcamp?
There are dozens of great cities where you can find many types of coding bootcamps. Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Indianapolis are only a few of the cities home to many high-quality bootcamps.
Curriculum and Career Services
There are a lot of different popular programming languages, and different bootcamps choose different languages to focus on. When choosing a coding bootcamp, you should always look at the coding bootcamp curriculum to make sure the program will cover the programming languages and technologies you want to learn.
Coding bootcamp career services are another important factor to consider when picking a coding bootcamp. Some coding bootcamp syllabi include full two weeks of job hunting at the end of the program, and others offer lifetime access to expert resume review and interview preparation.
Accreditation, Reputation, and Job Placement Statistics
When choosing a coding bootcamp, it’s important that you do your own research about bootcamp job placement and reputation. Unlike colleges and universities, bootcamps aren’t accredited. This means there isn’t a central body that verifies the quality of every bootcamp. To supplement your research on the bootcamp’s website, you should:
- Talk to recent graduates.
- Read student reviews.
- Review coding bootcamp statistics on job placement outcomes.
- Look at reports on job placement outcomes from the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR).
Many programs claim that they are the coding bootcamp with the best job placement rate as part of their marketing strategy. The CIRR has its own standardized framework for evaluating bootcamps, so it’s a good source to learn more about the quality of a particular program.
Cost and Payment Options
The average coding bootcamp cost is $11,450, but some bootcamps can charge as much as $20,000 for their courses. Before you choose a bootcamp, consider what each coding bootcamp costs and whether you can afford it. Think about the return on investment based on how much you’ll earn after going to a bootcamp. Try sketching out a few possible scenarios to understand the possibilities.
You can’t get federal financial aid to pay for your bootcamp, but you do have a few options. It’s important you plan your finances ahead and save what you need before you attend a bootcamp because you might have to quit your job to attend it. You can pay for a bootcamp by:
- Paying upfront.
- Paying in monthly installments.
- Taking out a loan.
- Entering a deferred tuition or income share agreement (ISA).
- Applying for bootcamp scholarships.
- Using GI Bill benefits (only for veterans).
- Taking advantage of employer sponsorship.
Coding Bootcamps vs College
The best coding bootcamps are viable alternatives to college, but the two education options differ in many ways. A college education is a more traditional path, so it can be difficult to choose a coding bootcamp education because it’s outside the norm. Here are some of the differences between coding bootcamp vs college:
- Curriculum. Coding bootcamps teach practical skills you need to break into a career in tech. Computer science degrees are better if you want to go deep into computer systems and theory.
- Cost. Bootcamps cost an average of $11,000 total, which is around the same cost as one semester in a top computer science degree program.
- Time. A Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science takes four years to complete, which gives you time to explore many different topics. On the other hand, a coding bootcamp takes less than one year. Bootcamps are shorter because they focus on teaching practical skills, rather than theory.
- Career Outlook. Computer science degrees are almost always required if you want to become an executive in tech. But that’s not to say bootcamps aren’t a good option. If you want to build a startup or get a job in tech, a bootcamp education will usually be enough.
What Skills Are Required to Succeed in a Coding Bootcamp?
Bootcamps are more intensive and condensed than other training programs. In a bootcamp, you’ll have to work hard to keep up with the workload and graduate on time. Time management is one of the key skills required for coding bootcamp. Some other relevant skills for coding bootcamp are:
- Persistence. Be prepared to work and learn in a fast-paced environment for three to six months. Persistence will help you avoid coding bootcamp failure in the long run.
- Problem-Solving. Computer science is all about solving problems, both as part of a team and by yourself. You’ll have to solve problems every day in a bootcamp, from fixing bugs to coming up with ideas on how to install a feature into a project.
- Teamwork. Depending on the bootcamp, you’ll often have to work in a team. Although bootcamps have a lot of independent work, you’ll also have to do some work on a team.
- Technical Skills. Most bootcamps ask that students complete a coding challenge or bootcamp prep course before enrolling in a full-time program. Use this opportunity to develop your technical skills and get comfortable with learning online.
What Can I Expect in a Coding Bootcamp Interview?
Now that you know how to choose a coding bootcamp, you’re ready to apply for your dream bootcamp. The bootcamp application and interview process help schools screen for the students who have the right skills to take part in their programs. After completing a short, online application, a member of the admissions team will reach out to schedule a bootcamp interview.
The bootcamp interview is a chance for the bootcamp to learn more about your background and motivation. They are less interested in your technical skills. If you’re serious about transitioning into a career in tech and willing to put in the effort, you’ll do fine. Some questions you should expect in your tech bootcamp interview are:
- Why do you want to attend a bootcamp?
- What are your career goals?
- What past experiences have prepared you for an intensive learning program?
- What kind of teammate are you when working in a group?
Which Coding Bootcamp Is Right for Me?
Coding bootcamps are a great way to learn how to code. While bootcamps are only about a decade old, thousands of people have used bootcamps to transition into careers in tech. There is a wide range of bootcamp programs and learning formats, so it takes a little research and soul searching to decide which coding bootcamp is right for you.
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To choose the right bootcamp for you, think about what kind of job you want. After you decide on a subject, consider whether you want to attend full-time or part-time and whether you want to go to class in person or online. After narrowing it down to a list of programs that match your goals, compare bootcamp tuition costs, job placement rate, and overall student satisfaction.
How to Choose a Coding Bootcamp FAQ
You can pay for most coding bootcamp with income share agreements, deferred tuition payment plans, scholarships, and loans. The actual options will vary depending on the coding bootcamp you choose to attend. Very few coding bootcamps require upfront payment from their students, although many programs provide discounted tuition to students who pay in full before the first day of class.
What is the best online coding bootcamp?
The best online coding bootcamp depends on your own learning and career goals. Flatiron School, Fullstack Academy, General Assembly, Coding Temple, and Tech Elevator are all popular coding bootcamp choices with online options. There are also free bootcamps, such as those offered by Ada Developers Academy or The Data Incubator.
Will a coding bootcamp get me a job?
A coding bootcamp can help you get a job. The purpose of a bootcamp is to help you learn the skills you need to find your first tech job, with help from your bootcamp’s career services. Some bootcamps make introductions to employers who are hiring, while others provide career workshops to help you write a resume and prepare for a technical interview.
Are coding bootcamps a good choice for beginners?
Coding bootcamps have different levels of difficulty, and not all coding bootcamps are for beginners. Even the coding bootcamps for complete beginners usually have a pre-work section where you’ll learn the basics of coding before you start class.
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