Since their start in 2011, coding bootcamps have established themselves as the trade school of the digital era. They are an excellent way to get into software engineering without needing to go through a four-year degree program at a university. However, after two prominent coding bootcamps—The Iron Yard and Dev Bootcamp—closed their doors last year, many are wondering if coding bootcamps are actually worth it.
In 2017, 22,000 students graduated from coding bootcamps across the United States, 10-times as many as when the first coding bootcamp launched in 2011, according to a study from Course Report. The entire coding bootcamp industry is now worth over $260 million, and it’s continuing to grow at a rapid rate.
The growing demand for coding bootcamps is understandable considering the constantly changing nature of the IT job market. By the time a student completes a traditional four-year computer science degree program, the skills necessary to get the job can change several times.
Coding bootcamps offer an accelerated learning experience in a shorter time and cheaper format than four-year computer science degree programs, providing industry-relevant coding education without any fluff or the type of academic background knowledge that most college graduates forget as soon as they leave their alma mater.
To find out whether there’s a real demand for bootcamp graduates, American worldwide employment-related search engine Indeed conducted a survey of over 1,000 HR managers and technical recruiters at US companies of all sizes.
According to the survey, 72 percent of employers consider bootcamp graduates to be just as prepared and just as likely to be high performers as computer science graduates. What’s more, 80 percent of employers have hired a coding bootcamp graduate for a tech role in their company. 99.8 percent of those employers who have hired a coding bootcamp graduate said they would do so again without hesitation.
One thing that attracts employers to coding bootcamp graduates is their diversity. Most employers today consider it very important to have a diverse company, and coding bootcamp graduates are far more likely to belong to groups that are underrepresented in the tech sector than the graduates from traditional four-year computer science degree programs.
In fact, some coding bootcamps are designed specifically to address the lack of diversity in the tech sector. A good example of such coding bootcamp is Ada Developers Academy, which offers 6 months of full-time classroom training and a paid industry internship at a top employer.
There are many people who talk about coding bootcamps as if they were the only way to get into software development. In reality, coding bootcamps are just one of the many paths that lead to a fulfilling IT career, and each person has to decide which path suits them best.
Because most coding bootcamps are around 12 weeks long, they are inherently fast-paced and hectic. Those who learn well under pressure tend to thrive in that sort of environment, but those who like to take their time and go over important concepts multiple times to fully understand them sometimes struggle to catch their breath.
Coding bootcamps are frequently praised for creating a strong sense of community by making attendees spend tons of time together. While spending a lot of time with like-minded people can be hugely motivating, it can make it harder to get one-on-one access to instructors.
Finally, coding bootcamps are seldom the life-changing experiences they present themselves to be. Yes, you might get a step closer to landing your dream job after attending one, but you won’t magically become a coding wizard who can spit out complex machine learning algorithms like fire.
“You shouldn’t view these camps as ‘life-changing opportunities’ or even as sufficient ways of learning any skill because there are way, way, way cheaper options in terms of acquiring knowledge,” believes Horizons School of Technology graduate Anshul Nanda. “At best, you will be borderline competent.”
The average annual out-of-state cost for a bachelor program in Computer Science is around $40,000 with an estimated average four-year degree total cost of $163,000, according to data from CollegeCalc. That’s a lot of money even when you consider that the average salary for entry-level computer science graduate ranges from approximately $53,000 per year for Entry Level Software Engineer to $102,000 per year for Software Engineer.
Coding bootcamps are significantly cheaper than traditional four-year computer science degrees, but they still cost a lot of money. For example, both iXperience and Horizons, come up to around $10,000 for a summer, and some coding bootcamps even take a percentage of the graduates’ first year’s salary.
The good news is that most coding bootcamps don’t require their attendees to pay everything upfront. The use of external lending partners has increased dramatically over time, and most graduates avoid paying tuition until they get a job, which takes 75 percent of coding bootcamps graduates between 1 and 6 months.
One average, coding bootcamp graduates earn around $70,000 at their first job after bootcamp, which is roughly on par with what entry level computer science graduates earn when they first enter the workforce. Clearly, coding bootcamps are a worthy investment and an excellent alternative to traditional four-year computer science degrees.
In this article we’ve explained that coding bootcamps can be a great alternative to formal education, but you should keep in mind that not all coding bootcamps are created equal. If you decide to attend a coding bootcamp, spend enough time on research and look for reviews by former attendees.
As long as you choose well and keep your expectations realistic, you will have a great time and look back at your coding bootcamp experience with fond memories.