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Are Coding Bootcamps Worth the Investment?

Interested in pivoting your career to coding? Here's what you need to know about coding bootcamps.

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The tech industry is always expanding and the demand for workers with technical and coding skills is stronger than ever. 

There are currently over 100 coding bootcamps in the United States and the number is on the rise. These coding bootcamps offer people the opportunity to learn the practical tech skills they need, while luring students with the potential of higher paying jobs amid a booming tech market for anyone interested in picking up coding skills for less than the cost of a college degree. 

But are coding bootcamps worth it?

What Are Coding Bootcamps?

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Coding bootcamps are intensive courses that prepare students for tech careers in web development.

Some popular courses in coding bootcamps include:

  • IT and Cybersecurity
  • Software Engineering
  • Mobile App Development
  • Data Science
  • Python
  • Javascript
  • UX/UI Design

Depending on their length and focus, coding bootcamps also teach other digital skills, but most revolve around web development. These programs are geared towards people looking to acquire programming skills fast.

How Much Do Coding Bootcamps Cost?

Given that the duration of a coding bootcamp can vary from as little as several weeks to a year, the cost varies greatly too. On average, full-time coding bootcamps roughly cost around $13,500, with online programs costing slightly less than in-person ones.

Coding bootcamps that take under 8 weeks have a median cost of $8,500 and attending them part-time lowers the cost to around $4,750

At the other end of the scale, coding bootcamps that last longer than 16 weeks can easily go up to $20,000 or even $24,000. Some pre-work might also be necessary for these coding bootcamps, such as checking the required software and necessary laptops.

Pros and Cons of Coding Bootcamps

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If you aren’t sure coding bootcamps are the right option for you, it helps to weigh out the pros and cons.

Pros of Coding Bootcamps

  • Considerably cheaper than a four-year undergraduate program — $13,500 compared to $35,500 — and they offer more financing options than a college degree.
  • Require less time than a regular undergraduate program so you don’t have to wait as long to apply for the tech job you want and see a return on your investment in education.
  • Fewer admission requirements, which makes them more accessible and flexible than general higher education programs.
  • Highly specialized for what the market currently needs, trimming out superfluous theory and exercises in favor of practical IT skills.

Cons of Coding Bootcamps

  • Lack of recognition: You don’t get the same recognition after attending a bootcamp as you would after graduating from college or university. This happens because most do not undergo an accreditation process.
  • Crammed curriculum: Since bootcamps are significantly shorter than a four-year degree, there is a lot of information to take in. It comes in a concentrated form and bootcamps cannot explore the subject matter in depth.
  • Niche focus: Compared to a computer science degree, bootcamps are more niched and focused on a specific IT area. They offer a narrower perspective and unlock fewer opportunities in the end.
  • Lack of regulation in the bootcamp industry means that information about them is primarily taken from their marketing materials. In a nutshell, there are no official sources to double-check its accuracy or curriculum. 

How Do I Choose a Coding Bootcamp?

There are many factors that one should consider when choosing a coding bootcamp.

  • Curriculum: Given that coding bootcamps are so focused on a particular area, the curriculum plays the most important role when deciding what to attend. Make sure you choose something that helps either consolidate your current knowledge for a certain specialization or steer your career in a new direction that you are comfortable with. 
  • Career guidance: The most important part of doing a bootcamp is to help you find a job or career. Look into whether your program offers career coaching, mentoring or guidance for new graduates to help them prepare for the job market. 
  • Cost: Figure out what you can afford and whether it really makes sense to take out a huge loan for a bootcamp. You don’t want to end up deep in debt after doing a bootcamp with poor career prospects.
  • Instruction style: Besides the curriculum, other decisive factors are program length, learning style and instructors. Think about what you would like to achieve by attending a coding bootcamp and determine how many weeks it would take you to learn the notions and apply them with confidence. 
  • Online or in-person learning: Weigh the pros and cons of online-only and in-person classes. Learn as much as you can about the instructors and look for reviews from past students.

Pro tip: Instead of putting all your eggs in one basket, you could start with a shorter coding workshop and see where it takes you. This way you don’t risk investing too much money in something that doesn’t work out well for you.

How Do Employers and Recruiters View Coding Bootcamp Certifications?

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Coding bootcamps are an affordable and accessible way to enhance your resume, especially if you don’t have prior experience as a programmer. While bootcamps are not the equivalent of computer science degrees, they do help you stand out from other inexperienced candidates.

Take note that not all coding bootcamps offer the same level of education, which is why it is important to research them beforehand. Employers and recruiters might view some more favorably than others. On the plus side, studies show that 42% of employers have little confidence in traditional universities and colleges to train the practical skills needed in their industry. This is where coding bootcamps can help improve your employability, especially if a curriculum offers you the chance to develop a portfolio or project to showcase to employers.

When Are Coding Bootcamps Worth It?

Given the nature, length and cost of coding bootcamps, they are most worth it for the following categories of people:

  • Jobseekers who want to learn a specific and practical IT skill quickly in order to land their first job as a programmer.
  • Employees that want to advance their tech career and increase their salary by adding a new, related skill to their record.
  • Employees that want to pivot their career towards tech and have the opportunity to do so within their current company.

If you are ready to advance or start your career in tech, a coding bootcamp is often the best place to start, but you should always weigh the pros and cons of your unique situation.

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Slickdeals Staff
Slickdeals Staff
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