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Three students huddled around a laptop doing coding bootcamp work

What Is a Coding Bootcamp? Cost, Length, Pros and Cons

A coding bootcamp is a short-term, project-based, and immersive form of higher education for people interested in launching or advancing their careers in the tech industry. As a fast-paced and affordable alternative to traditional college, bootcamps are laser-focused on providing students with the coding skills they need to be qualified for high-paying tech jobs.

But this just scratches the surface of how coding bootcamps work. In this article, we answer all of your burning questions about this exciting educational model. How long are coding bootcamps? How much do they cost? What kinds of career support do they offer? And to help you identify the best coding bootcamps, we also break down how to choose a coding bootcamp.  

Top Reasons to Attend Bootcamp

Coding bootcamps immerse the student in a dynamic environment, equipping them with the skills, network, and mindset crucial for success in the tech industry. Below, we take a close look at the top five reasons to join a coding bootcamp in 2024:

  1. Accelerated learning: Coding bootcamps condense comprehensive programming knowledge into a focused, immersive timeframe. Through hands-on projects, real-world challenges, and dedicated mentorship, you’ll grasp complex concepts swiftly, cutting down the traditional learning curve.
  2. Industry-relevant skills: Unlike conventional education, bootcamps are designed with industry input, ensuring the curriculum aligns with current market demands. You’ll gain proficiency in sought-after programming languages and tools, directly applicable to today’s tech landscape.
  3. Career support and networking: Bootcamps extend beyond teaching code. They often provide career services, including resume building, interview prep, and networking opportunities. Access to a diverse community of peers, instructors, and alumni opens doors to collaborations and job prospects.
  4. Job placement: Many bootcamps boast impressive job placement rates thanks to partnerships with companies hungry for talent.
  5. Flexibility and accessibility: With online options and varied schedules, coding bootcamps cater to diverse lifestyles. Whether you’re a career-changer or a student seeking specialized skills, these programs accommodate different backgrounds and commitments.

How Do Coding Bootcamps Work?

Coding bootcamps work by bringing the tools and technologies that tech companies want directly to their students. Bootcamp instructors are tech professionals with insider knowledge about the skills needed to get hired, and bootcamp curricula are structured around real-world applications. In this way, bootcamp training is much more practical than theoretical. 

Led by a philosophy of learning by doing, coding bootcamps immerse students in complex coding challenges from day one. Students learn the intricacies of particular programming languages, such as Java for software engineering or JavaScript for web development, by building applications from scratch and submitting them for review. 

The learning process at a coding bootcamp doesn’t end with hard skills. Students also refine the soft skills needed for their job search, from practicing answers to software development interview questions to finding ways to package their bootcamp projects in their professional portfolios. Indeed, many bootcamps continue to offer career coaching after you graduate. 

Best Coding Bootcamps to Kickstart a Tech Career

There are now hundreds of coding schools offering bootcamps around the country and worldwide. In 2024, the bootcamp market continues to grow. According to Career Karma’s State of the Bootcamp Market Report, in 2022, the number of American bootcamp students grew by 3.23 percent compared to the year prior. With so many options, finding the right fit can be hard. Below we have curated a list of the top ten coding bootcamps that you should consider if you want to break into tech in 2024:

How Long Are Coding Bootcamps?

Coding bootcamps range in length from a few weeks to a year, with most full-time programs lasting between 12 to 16 weeks. For students unable to make a full-time commitment, there are part-time programs that cut the weekly workload in half, which makes them take twice as long to complete. Either way, you can expect to be job-ready in a few short months.

What Is the Day-to-Day Bootcamp Experience Like?

The daily grind varies from program to program, but full-time bootcamps usually hold class every day from 9am to 5pm, dividing the time between a morning and an afternoon session. In a typical morning session, the instructor gives a lesson on the coding topics of the day and goes through exercises. In the afternoon, students team up and work on problems on their own. 

A part-time bootcamp, meanwhile, usually convenes a few nights per week, or a couple of weeknights and one weekend day, for a few hours at a time. Keep in mind that both full-time and part-time coding bootcamps expect students to spend several hours per week outside of class on homework and class projects.

How Much Do Coding Bootcamps Cost?

A person holding a smartphone and tablet and looking off into the distance.
With the right payment plan, you don’t have to let coding bootcamp costs stand between you and a bright future.

Immersive coding bootcamps cost between $10,000 and $20,000, with a few outliers on either side of that range. A 2019 study by RTI International found that the median cost across all bootcamps was $11,900. Since then, inflation has brought up the average price a little. To take one example of a top-rated bootcamp, App Academy charges $17,000 for its flagship program. 

While this may seem expensive, coding bootcamp tuition is much lower than the cost of a college degree. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average tuition for a single year of college is $13,677. Additionally, coding bootcamps usually offer a wide range of payment options to relieve the financial burden.

How to Pay for a Coding Bootcamp

  • Upfront Payment. If you have the money lying around, you can always choose to pay the full amount upfront. Students who have the means to select this option are often rewarded with a tuition discount. 
  • Monthly Installments. One of the most popular ways to pay for a coding bootcamp is to break it up into smaller chunks, with the bill coming due once a month for the duration of the program.
  • Deferred Tuition. Some bootcamps let students defer payment until after they graduate, an option that usually comes with some kind of job guarantee. One such scheme is an income share agreement (ISA). Under an ISA, a bootcamp graduate pays a fixed percentage of their tech industry salary for a set period of time until the debt is paid off. 
  • Private Loans. No list of financing options would be complete without traditional student loans. While federal student loans cannot be used to finance coding bootcamp education, many bootcamps have loan partnerships with private lenders, such as Ascent Funding and Climb Credit, that offer favorable terms to bootcamp students. 
  • GI Bill. If you’re a military veteran, you may be eligible to use your GI Bill benefits on coding bootcamp tuition and living expenses. Not all bootcamps accept the GI Bill, though, so if you’re looking to transition to civilian life, make sure to check out the best coding bootcamps for veterans
  • Scholarships. Prospective students should always check a bootcamp’s website for scholarship opportunities. Bootcamp scholarship funds tend to be geared towards students from a demographic group underrepresented in the tech industry. If this applies to you, you may be eligible for a significant discount. 
  • Employer Sponsorship. Many bootcamp providers specialize in workforce retraining, and modern companies have a vested interest in keeping their employees’ skills aligned with changing technology. If you can convince your employer that a bootcamp makes good economic sense for your department, they may be willing to foot the bill.

Types of Coding Bootcamps

Flexibility of schedule and the availability of multiple formats are two of the main draws of coding bootcamps. These programs are designed to be accessible to a wide range of people and this is accomplished by offering a variety of formats and schedules. Below we discuss some of the most common types of bootcamps you are likely to encounter.

Online vs In-Person

In the last few years, the industry has experienced a shift toward remote learning, with online bootcamps slowly but surely becoming the norm. However, there are still dozens of bootcamp providers with campuses where students can attend class in person. Flatiron School, for example, has two campuses, one in New York City and the other in Denver.

Each type of bootcamp has its merits. The best online bootcamps offer flexibility and accessibility, catering to diverse schedules and locations. In-person bootcamps, on the other hand, provide hands-on interaction and networking opportunities, fostering a more immersive and collaborative learning environment.

Part-time vs Full-time Bootcamps

Full-time bootcamps offer an immersive learning experience ideal for those who want to fast-track their entry into the tech industry. However, while a full-time bootcamp that requires up to 40 hours of study a week is an efficient way of acquiring tech skills, not everyone is ready for that type of commitment.

Fortunately, most bootcamps also offer part-time options. Part-time coding bootcamps suit busy schedules, allowing learners to balance work or other commitments while gaining coding skills at a manageable pace. Part-time bootcamps generally require around 20 hours of work a week or less.

Instructor-led vs Self-paced Bootcamps

Bootcamps can also be taught by an instructor or they can consist of pre-recorded lessons and other learning materials that the student can access at their convenience. The first type, known as instructor-led bootcamps, offer structured guidance, direct mentorship, and real-time feedback. They create an interactive learning environment that contributes to the success of students.

The second type, self-paced bootcamps, also has its advantages. Self-paced bootcamps provide flexibility, allowing learners to progress at their own speed. They are ideal for those requiring autonomy and a customized learning schedule. There are also hybrid bootcamps where the student mostly works on their own but meets with a teacher or a mentor on a regular basis to go over difficult concepts or receive other forms of guidance.

What Tech Subjects Do Coding Bootcamps Teach?

Coding bootcamps have always taught traditional coding subjects like software engineering and web development, and in recent years they have expanded into tech fields that don’t necessarily require advanced coding skills. Here’s a full rundown of coding bootcamp subjects:

  • Computer programming. Using coding to build computer programs is still the main focus of most tech bootcamps. This category includes immersive courses in full stack web development and intensive programs in software development. Some of the best full stack coding bootcamps are General Assembly, App Academy, and BrainStation.
  • Data science and data analytics. Some programming languages are used to manipulate, manage, and analyze large amounts of data. Coding Temple’s Data Analytics program, for instance, covers Python, SQL, and R. 
  • UX/UI design. While you can become a web designer without direct knowledge of coding, you’ll probably want to be familiar with the basics of front end development. The best web design bootcamps cover HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 
  • Cyber security. As hacking methods have become more sophisticated, the need for cyber security professionals has increased. In a cyber security bootcamp, you’ll learn how to keep computer programs safe from malicious attackers. 
  • Digital marketing. To become a digital marketer, you’ll need a solid enough tech foundation to be able to grasp topics like search engine optimization (SEO) and digital advertising. University bootcamps, such as Berkeley Boot Camps, often offer a digital marketing course.

Will I Get a Job After Coding Bootcamp?

Most students do get a programming job after attending a reputable coding bootcamp. The average job placement rate for coding bootcamps sits at around 70 percent, which is high when compared to university degree programs. Although not all schools report job figures transparently or even honestly, the outcomes reports coming from reputable bootcamps such as Flatiron School can usually be trusted because they are audited by independent third parties.

Additionally, a significant number of bootcamps have joined the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR), a body that strives to increase transparency in outcomes reporting. Schools that become CIRR members must follow strict reporting standards designed to ensure job placement figures are transparent and verifiable.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the coding bootcamps with the highest job placement rates. According to the school’s latest jobs report, 93.2 percent of General Assembly’s students who participated in the full-time career services program accepted an in-field of job within a year of graduation. Likewise, 90 percent of Flatiron School students get a job in tech after graduating. Other schools with job placement rates above 80 percent include Thinkful, App Academy, Fullstack Academy, and Hack Reactor.

Job Prospects for Coding Bootcamp Graduates

Preparing students for the best tech jobs is the main value proposition of coding bootcamps.  Graduates who do the work and take advantage of their bootcamps’ career services teams stand to earn a high annual salary. Below is a list of top coding bootcamp jobs, along with salary information from PayScale and job growth data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Job Average Entry-Level Salary Average Salary Projected Job Growth
Data scientist $86,411 $98,602 35%
Software developer $66,556 $75,917 25%
Cyber security analyst $66,724 $78,790 32%
Data analyst $59,621 $64,980 23%
Web developer $52,284 $61,797 16%
Web designer $45,725 $53,561 16%
Digital marketing specialist $44,250 $52,301 13%

Data Scientist | Average Starting Salary: $86,411

Data science is a high-paying field that combines knowledge of computer science and statistics with analytical and critical thinking skills. Data scientists collect and model large amounts of data using algorithms and an ever-changing assortment of high-powered tools. Full-time coding bootcamp courses are a great way to learn the techniques used by industry professionals.

Software Developer | Average Starting Salary: $66,556

A software developer uses programming languages to design, build, test, and maintain software applications. The most successful developers know many coding languages and can pick up new languages easily. BLS expects jobs for software developers to grow by 25 percent between 2021 and 2031, and software development bootcamps are designed to meet the demand. 

Cyber Security Analyst | Average Starting Salary: $66,724

Sometimes called an information security analyst, a cyber security analyst is an IT professional who looks for vulnerabilities in a company’s computer systems and recommends ways to make them more secure. By studying cyber security at a bootcamp like Kenzie Academy or Evolve Security Academy, you will meet the minimum skill requirements for this occupation. 

Data Analyst | Average Starting Salary: $59,621

A data analyst is someone who combs through datasets, extracts insights from them, and figures out the best way to visualize and communicate their findings to relevant stakeholders. The differences between data analytics and data science are not always clear-cut, but in general, the coding that a data analyst does is more straightforward. 

Web Developer | Average Starting Salary: $52,284

A web developer is a software developer who specializes in applications that run on the web. A front end web developer focuses on the user-facing part of the program, while a backend web developer works on everything that goes on behind the scenes. The median salary for backend developers is slightly higher, but you can find a dev bootcamp for either of these career tracks. 

Web Designer | Average Starting Salary: $45,725

Behind every web developer is a talented web designer, someone who decides what the website is going to look like. Some designers focus on the user interface (UI), and others focus on the user experience (UE). A good UX/UI bootcamp will teach you how to create dynamic web pages like a pro. 

Digital Marketing Specialist | Average Starting Salary: $44,250

A digital marketing specialist is the brains behind online ad revenue, which is the engine that drives Internet commerce. They are responsible for coming up with different kinds of online marketing campaigns to reach potential customers. By joining a digital marketing bootcamp, you can earn your place in this industry without a college degree. 

How to Choose a Coding Bootcamp: 3 Factors to Consider

A person at a whiteboard working out how to choose a coding bootcamp.
Map out all your options to find the perfect bootcamp program for you. 

The rapid expansion of the bootcamp industry over the last decade means there is no shortage of choices. But with so many options to consider, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. To make your selection process a little less stressful, here are three things to keep in mind.

Curriculum and Projects

Almost all coding bootcamps publish sample syllabi on their website. You can use these documents to compare the content, structure, and pacing of the bootcamps you’re considering. You can also get an idea of how each program handles its projects, and then choose the bootcamp whose approach to projects is best suited to your career goals. 

Program Flexibility

Depending on where you are in your life, you may not be able to attend a bootcamp in person or make a full-time commitment. If this describes you, you’re going to want a flexible program. A bootcamp that offers part-time and online options may suit your needs better than a more rigidly structured bootcamp experience. 

Career Services and Job Placement Outcomes

Bootcamps with low graduation rates and poor records of placing their graduates in jobs. When researching bootcamps, make sure to read up on how each school guides students through the program and helps them find jobs afterward. Remember that schools with the best job outcomes are more likely to display that information prominently on their websites. 

Pros and Cons of Coding Bootcamps

As groundbreaking as bootcamps are, they can’t be all things to all people. There are definitely tradeoffs, and it’s important to weigh the benefits of bootcamp education against potential downsides. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons. 

Pros of Coding Bootcamps

  • Intensive skill development: Bootcamps offer an accelerated learning experience, immersing you in coding languages and tools through hands-on projects and real-world challenges, hastening your skill acquisition.
  • Industry alignment: Designed with input from industry experts, bootcamp curricula are tailored to meet current market demands, ensuring you learn the most relevant and in-demand skills for the tech industry.
  • Diverse career support: Robust career services provided by bootcamps include resume building, interview prep, and networking opportunities. Access to a supportive community of peers, instructors, and alumni enhances job prospects and fosters invaluable professional connections.
  • Job placement assistance: Many bootcamps boast impressive job placement rates, often through partnerships with companies eager for tech talent. The programs facilitate pathways into the industry, increasing chances of securing employment post-completion.
  • Flexible learning options: With online, part-time, and full-time offerings, bootcamps cater to diverse schedules and preferences, making coding education accessible to individuals with varying commitments and backgrounds.

Cons of Coding Bootcamps

  • Light on theory. If you’re hoping to come away from your bootcamp experience with deep knowledge of computer science, you should look elsewhere. Bootcamp grads leave their programs with the coding skills that matter to employers, and nothing more.
  • Intense pace. Useful and practical as they are, coding bootcamps are not a shortcut. Anyone admitted into a bootcamp needs to work hard for the duration of the program. If you aren’t ready to eat, drink, and breathe coding, this may not be for you.
  • Unregulated industry. The first coding bootcamps didn’t open their doors until 2011, and the United States government has been predictably slow to regulate them. Because of this, the quality of education that you receive may vary.
  • Varied quality: Not all bootcamps maintain the same standards. Some programs may lack quality instruction or industry relevance, potentially resulting in a less beneficial learning experience.
  • Lack of formal credentials: While many bootcamps offer certificates, some employers may prioritize traditional degrees or formal education, potentially posing a challenge in certain job markets or industries.

Is a Coding Bootcamp Worth It?

Yes, a coding bootcamp is worth it for anyone with specific career goals and no time to waste. It’s the perfect option for beginners looking to transition into tech, but it is also appealing to more experienced coders who want to cement their place in the industry. Bootcamps are designed to get you your dream job as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

If this all sounds too good to be true, you don’t have to take our word for it. There are plenty of websites where you can read bootcamp reviews from real students and alumni, who know better than anyone what you’ll be getting into. If you can get into a bootcamp with awesome career services and a high job placement rate, it will almost certainly be worth the investment.

Coding Bootcamp FAQ

Are coding bootcamps accredited? 

No, coding bootcamps are not accredited institutions of higher learning in the United States. Under US law, bootcamp curricula are not eligible for the same forms of accreditation that colleges and universities need to be able to grant degrees. While unaccredited in the traditional sense, many bootcamps do prove their legitimacy by publishing their job placement rates.

How hard is it to get into a coding bootcamp?

It is not very hard to get into a coding bootcamp, especially if you cast your net widely. There are a few selective bootcamp programs that impose strict admission criteria on their applicants, but this is not the norm. Most coding bootcamps are designed to be beginner-friendly, and to that end, they give every serious applicant the same opportunity. 

What are the requirements to join a coding bootcamp?

There are not many requirements. to join a coding bootcamp. The most important requirement is to have basic computer literacy. Most schools also require a high school diploma or GED. Other than that, a prospective bootcamp student should be hard-working, determined, tenacious, and collaborative. Prior coding knowledge is not usually needed as the basics are often covered during the program.

Can you fail a coding bootcamp?

Yes, you can fail a coding bootcamp. Students who fall behind on their coursework will not gain the technical skills necessary to complete their hands-on projects, which are the lifeblood of any coding bootcamp. To avoid having to drop out and forfeit your tuition, you should seek help from the instructional staff. You may even be assigned a personal mentor to help you stay on track. 

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