Coding bootcamps have become one of the most popular means by which to launch yourself into a productive new career, and with good reason. They sit comfortably between the two poles of ‘learning it all on your own’ and ‘spending most of half a decade in a classroom in a traditional college.’
And there are now high-quality coding bootcamps for web development, data science, software engineering, and myriad other technical disciplines. If you’re unhappy with where you’re at, it truly is a wonderful time to be thinking about transitioning into something that suits you better.
This article is going to cover two popular bootcamp options: Thinkful vs. General Assembly. There are usually many different versions of a given bootcamp, each of which has its own requirements, outcome statistics, and so forth. For the purposes of writing these comparison articles I usually opt to pick a single sub-program and focus on that. In this case, I’m examining the data science bootcamps for Thinkful and General Assembly. This should be enough to give you a high-level comparison.
Curriculum and Course Offerings
Thinkful’s program is officially called the ‘Flexible Data Science Bootcamp’. It covers the standard array of data science techniques, as well as tools like numpy, pandas, the programming language Python, and PostgreSQL. As with most data science bootcamps you’ll spend quite a bit of time studying machine learning, which should prepare you well for a role in the field.
Thinkful is unique among bootcamps in being centered around 1-on-1 learning with a mentor. It’s also mostly self-paced, so most of their programs can be completed in as little as two months or as many as six. For this reason there’s no good way for me to describe a typical day at a Thinkful bootcamp. It’s up to you!
If you aren’t interested in data science (for some bizarre reason), Thinkful has offerings for software engineering, data analytics (yes, it’s different), web development, and product design.
General Assembly covers the same spread of topics, but it follows a more standard template. The program lasts 12 weeks, and though I don’t see a breakdown of their day-to-day on the General Assembly website, I can make a few guesses. Classes in full-time programs tend to start around 9 and go until 5, with most students putting in significant amounts of work in their off hours.
As with Thinkful, General Assembly has non-data science options, including software engineering, user-experience design, and digital marketing. They also have an impressive variety of part-time courses you can attend. These aren’t full bootcamps, but will allow you to learn Python or data analytics in the evenings.
Program Cost and Tuition Model
Thinkful tends to charge by month, so programs can vary in cost. The data science program will set you back $1,495/month, which ends up being just shy of $9,000 for the full six months. That’s a great offer. They also have options for financing and loans, as well as scholarships for women and veterans.
General Assembly’s program runs $15,950, which is typical for this kind of bootcamp. They have payment plans, loans through Climb and Meritize, an Income Share Agreement, and scholarships. And they accept the GI Bill (not all bootcamps do).
Outcomes and Reviews
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Caption = There’s almost no better indication of a program’s quality than how well its students do after they leave.
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Thinkful’s data on outcomes is a lot more accurate and up-to-date. According to their published report, 88% of data science immersive graduates find jobs within six months, and earn a median base salary of $63,700. I couldn’t find figures more recent than the end of 2017 for General Assembly. They say that 92% of their graduates get jobs within six months, but I don’t see data on what their average salary was.
Both of these programs are well-regarded and will likely give you what you need to succeed. Thinkful is a bit more flexible while General Assembly follows a more typical format. Which one is better suited for you depends on your preferred learning style and personal situation.