Are Coding Boot Camps Worth It? How to Tell If They’re Right for You
Graduates of coding boot camps spend a large amount of money to get into the tech world without a second degree, but is it worth it?
Millennials aren’t likely to stick with one job for more than 10 years, according to a 2016 Jobvite survey. While a four-year degree used to help you get a 40-year career, it now seems that a degree is usually only helpful for a first job. We like to do new things and change it up, so it’s no wonder that boot camps are all the rage these days.
One very popular boot camp is for potential coders. Independent private schools offer intensive educational programs to teach web development and coding as a fast track to software engineering jobs, which typically require a degree in computer science.
These schools sell you on the ability to learn coding in 10 to 15 weeks instead of spending two to four years on a new degree.Click To Tweet
General Assembly, Hack Reactor, and Flatiron School are the three biggest names in this industry. Their web development courses provide education in various coding languages, and many of their students go on to become software engineers. Full-time courses typically run for 12 to 15 weeks for five or six days a week.
1. General Assembly Coding Boot Camp
General Assembly (GA) began in 2011 as a coworking space in NYC and has since grown to 20 campuses throughout the world.
Each campus has slightly different offerings based on its instructors, but the school teaches coding, user experience, and data science immersive courses, as well as part-time offerings in marketing, business, and career development. Many of the courses are available both on-campus and online. In Atlanta, at least, in-person courses range from $3,950 for the user experience part-time course to $13,950 for full-time web development or UX designer courses and $15,950 for full-time data science course. Online courses are significantly cheaper, with user experience for $850; HTML, CSS, and web design for $1,250; and web development for $3,950.
GA claims that 99 percent of their full-time graduates who participate in their Career Services program secure a job within 180 days of starting their job search. A cousin of mine did the program in 2014 in San Francisco. She had a positive review of the course, and started working soon after graduation. However, this was before GA became popular.
2. Hack Reactor Coding Boot Camp
Hack Reactor started in 2012 in San Francisco and has since expanded to Austin, Los Angeles, and New York City. In addition to a software development course that the company offers both online and at its physical locations, Hack Reactor offers the Telegraph Track. This program specifically caters to the problems of under-representation in the tech world. It offers 70 extra hours of mentorship, career development, and brand building. It claims that 92.5 percent of their students graduate, and that 83 percent of those students receive a full-time position in their field. The school gives in-depth statistics about their graduates in each location – including remote graduates – on their website.
Tuition is set at $17,780, but Hack Reactor has a large scholarship fund and gives at least 50 percent of its scholarships to underrepresented groups, including women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community.
A friend of a friend completed this course in San Francisco and graduated four months ago. Since then, he’s had trouble getting a job.
He did mention, however, that San Francisco is an oversaturated market. So it might be easier to find a job in another city, far from Silicon Valley.
3. Flatiron School Coding Boot Camp
Established in 2012, the Flatiron School is located in New York City. You can learn software and iOS development on-campus for $15,000. Or if you’re an NYC resident making $50,000 or less and you meet federal selective-service requirements, you can enroll in the Mobile Dev Corps for beginners at no cost.
The Flatiron School also offers online courses in web development for $1,500 a month, as well as a few free courses to get you started and some certificate courses for professionals. The school partners with Women Who Tech to offer an automatic $1,000 scholarship for women who attend the NYC program. They claim that 99 percent of their software engineering students and 97 percent of their online web developer students are hired in technical roles within 120 days of graduation.
Are Coding Boot Camps Worth It? What to Consider Before Enrolling
Where Do You Live?
Each school offers career guidance and networking opportunities, which is helpful if you’re in a specific location where you want to work. However, many of the big cities have oversaturated markets due to other boot camps popping up. In Atlanta, for example, General Assembly competes with Georgia Tech, Tech Talent South, the Iron Yard, DigitalCrafts, and Code Career Academy, all of which run their own boot camps. With so many graduates, it may be difficult to compete and find a job, despite the schools’ statistics.
What’s Your Background?
Some courses require a certain level of background in coding. GA requires students to do work in advance of the courses to help everyone get on the same page, but it often accepts beginners. Hack Reactor encourages prospective students to learn through Code Academy or Code School ahead-of-time. Applicants to the program must complete an admissions challenge. The Flatiron School requires applicants to write and submit some code on Learn.co. After that, the applicant attends a live coding session with an instructor to discuss what they can improve. Only then will the applicant know whether they’ve been accepted into the school.
How Much are You Willing to Pay and What Do You Want to Learn?
If you’re looking for a cheap way to learn coding, there are tons of free resources. Check out Code Academy, Free Code Camp, and General Assembly’s free online course, Dash. They’ll give you a taste of coding to determine whether you think a course is worth your time. I’ve even seen people on LinkedIn who completed the Free Code Camp course and got a job in programming as a result. Of course, that may be rare.
The Bottom Line
I obviously can’t make the decision for you, and I’ve heard both from people who enjoyed their courses and found a job in a reasonable amount of time and from people who are still struggling to find full-time work in the field. Reach out to alumni to ask about their perspectives and do your own research before making a decision.