Coders create and implement computer programs directly from the source code. Unlike software engineers, they do not create computer languages or design software. Instead, they convert the directions that engineers provide into code that computers can understand. Coders typically hold a deep interest in technology and experience working with computer languages.
Future coders can enter the profession either by earning an academic degree in computer science or by attending a coding bootcamp. An associate, bachelor's, or master's degree can launch a coding career, but these programs often take 2-4 years to complete, cost a significant amount, and require extensive coursework unrelated to coding.
A coding bootcamp, on the other hand, usually lasts about 3-4 months and costs less than $15,000.
Many people who choose a bootcamp over college already hold an academic degree. They may be unable to attend a college program because they have to maintain family and community responsibilities or cannot afford to take years away from the workforce for study. Other participants in coding bootcamps may want to brush up on their skills, network with other professionals, or learn a new coding language.
Coding bootcamps provide an intensive, career-focused experience that can launch students into a new profession in a matter of weeks. Unlike college or university programs, which typically provide a broad-based educational experience, bootcamps focus on a single goal -- to learn to code. Bootcamps offer in-person and online options that make learning accessible for most people interested in the profession.
Each bootcamp can last anywhere from six weeks to six months. On average, a coding bootcamp requires about 3-4 months from start to finish. That's roughly 15-20% of the time necessary to complete an associate degree or a master's degree in computer science, and 8-10% of the time necessary to complete a bachelor's degree.
Most coding bootcamps provide a certificate of completion after students finish the program. Although a university may operate the bootcamp, this certificate rarely holds academic value. The certificate also does not qualify the graduate to teach in a K-12 or postsecondary setting. It does, however, hold sway with employers. A survey from Indeed found that 84% of employers believed bootcamp graduates were just as prepared or better prepared than college graduates for coding jobs.
Coding bootcamps prepare students for high-demand careers in technology. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that computer and information technology occupations will grow 12% from 2018 to 2028, adding 546,200 new jobs. A bootcamp provides these future professionals with the training needed to land entry-level positions in the field. Unlike a college degree, bootcamps take only a few weeks or months to complete and cost a fraction of the price.
The overall cost of a coding bootcamp varies based on a wide variety of factors. Some camps cost a few thousand dollars, while others cost more than $20,000. Here's an in-depth look at the cost of a coding bootcamp, how the charges break down, and what additional fees students can expect to pay.
Additionally, when taking a part-time, online bootcamp, learners may continue to work and earn an income, while studying at a full-time, on-site camp will likely prohibit any opportunity to regularly work. Some on-site camps do offer a living stipend that can help offset costs while the student is learning.
Nevertheless, coding bootcamps do not offer traditional financial aid packages such as Pell Grants, federal student loans, work study programs, or military and veterans educational benefits. Bootcamps are not higher education programs and therefore do not qualify for federal funding earmarked for colleges, universities, and trade schools.
Consequently, students will need to pay the costs out of pocket, set up a payment plan, defer payment until they have a job, or take out a personal loan to cover the costs of the camp. These options may also affect bottom line costs. A deferred payment, for example, might come with a small interest rate, but a personal loan will likely prove very expensive.
When doing a cost comparison between several potential coding bootcamp options, prospective coders should consider several variables. Regardless of which options initially appear cheapest or most cost effective, students should carefully compare numbers before committing to the camp of their choice.
The best coding bootcamps help graduates prepare for jobs in software development. Coding jobs vary widely in scope, pay, and requirements. Broadly, coders use programming languages to build websites, develop apps, or create new software. These professionals can work in virtually all industries, including healthcare, finance, education, insurance, technology, and manufacturing. The field continues to grow rapidly, as the BLS projects a 13% increase in web developer jobs and a 21% increase in software developer jobs between 2018 and 2028.
Coding bootcamps prepare graduates for many different jobs. Graduates can become web developers, developer advocates, software engineers, tech help desk managers, product architects, or devops engineers. Because coding bootcamps focus on developing practical skills, their curricula are highly applicable to real-world careers.
In 2017, Wired magazine called coding the "next big blue collar job" because most coders work with basic programming languages in order to support a mid-level business. While this image of a coder differs from the media-driven image of Silicon Valley, it better reflects the majority of the industry's work. Coders earn upper middle-class salaries and enjoy an above-average level of job security.
Coding bootcamps can certainly launch new coders into the industry, but can they advance a current coder's career? The short answer is: it depends. People currently working in lower-level IT careers or freelancing part-time as coders may find a bootcamp gives them the qualifications they need to compete for full-time jobs. Some bootcamps equip learners with new skills or help them brush up on existing knowledge. When considering going to bootcamp, current coders should carefully consider if the camp will advance their knowledge or simply repeat what they already know.
Certainly, bootcamps can help launch a career in coding. However, no educational experience can guarantee job placement upon graduation. Brand-new coders may spend weeks or even months looking for work after graduating from bootcamp. Many people spend this time doing freelance jobs, volunteering, or otherwise gaining the real-world coding experience that employers look for.
As in any career, coding job placement requires networking, support, and connection, in addition to education. While bootcamp can't guarantee a job, it can provide the first step toward a fulfilling career as a coder in nearly any industry.
Which is better: coding bootcamp or a college degree? The two options offer widely divergent experiences and vastly different price tags. Each person, camp, college, and company is unique, so the best choice for one may not apply to another.
Determining whether a bootcamp or a college degree is better comes down to outcomes. Students who want a traditional college experience, have management goals, and are able and willing to spend the money may choose a degree. Those with less experience, who want to save money, or who need to complete a job-training program quickly may find a bootcamp is the best choice.
Individuals considering coding programs often wonder if coding bootcamp is worth the investment. Coding bootcamps can lead to lucrative jobs and typically cost far less than college degrees. Students typically spend $10,000-$15,000 on a coding bootcamp, with many borrowing money or using savings to cover the cost. But is it worth it to attend a coding bootcamp? To answer that question, students can look into three areas: time, financial costs, and expected gains.
According to a study from Course Report, the average bootcamp graduate earned a starting annual salary of $64,528 in 2018, and alumni earnings increased by a median of 49%. For low-income students, that salary increase amounted to 128%. For women, salary growth was even higher.
Based on these numbers, the average bootcamp graduate earned their tuition costs back within six months of getting a job. For most of those graduates, their salaries eventually rose another 25% to more than $80,000 per year. That's about the same as a physical therapist, a career that requires about seven years of study and can easily run more than $150,000 in tuition.
The traditional formula to calculate ROI (return on investment) is net return on investment, divided by cost of investment, multiplied by 100%. For a coding bootcamp, the initial ROI in the first year is 1.61, not accounting for taxes, living expenses, or raises. That's a very high ROI for a job training course.
Students should consider several factors when looking for a coding bootcamp, including cost, time to completion, delivery method, software needs, and outcomes.
Determining the right camp means deciding between full-time and part-time, on-site or remote options, along with comparing total costs and desired outcomes.
The first coding bootcamps launched in 2012, and within a year they had graduated about 2,000 students. Since that time, the industry has grown from a handful of locations to more than 100 full-time camps and more than 500 total bootcamp programs across the U.S. In 2019, approximately 23,000 people graduated from coding bootcamps, and the camps themselves brought in roughly $309 million in gross revenue, according to research from Course Report.
The rapid growth of coding bootcamps shows that these career training programs are rising in popularity. In the immediate future, bootcamps show great promise as an alternative to college, a viable option for career changers, and a valuable credential for employment. Several current trends could help shape the future of coding bootcamps.
Between 2018-2019, online bootcamps grew by 171%, and in a post-COVID-19 world, online education should only surge in popularity. The lower costs, flexible schedules, and stay-at-home options that online education presents will likely prove enticing to adult students, who make up the majority of coding camp learners.
As industry organizations seek to attract more women to the profession, the camps will target female candidates. With the GI Bill paying for some veterans to study at bootcamp, their numbers will also likely rise.
Already, many larger camps have bought out smaller ones, shutting down some and bringing others together under a single concept. In other cases, for-profit universities and education companies have bought smaller camps. This trend will likely increase as universities seek new models to attract students.
A demographic cliff is coming that may send the numbers of traditional college students plummeting. To make up for those losses, colleges and universities will have to consider non-traditional education options such as bootcamps. With traditional institutions holding more influence in this sector, camps can also expect greater oversight, increased regulation, and closer ties to academic programs.