Coding Bootcamps: What You Really Need to Know
By: Lori Fimoff
Have you been thinking about making the transition to a tech career, but still need the skills to get you there? Maybe you’ve even started to look into your options for learning to code: coding bootcamps, online mentor-led courses (like ours!), or even free resources. But how do you know where to start? What’s the best choice for you and your lifestyle?
You deserve an objective look at all the options. That’s why we’ve taken the time to examine some of them for you, including the latest from Udemy, Codecademy, General Assembly, and LinkedIn Learning. We’ve reviewed the most important factors you should consider when it comes to learning tech skills—factors like cost, flexibility, instructor support, and teaching style.
And today, we’re taking a deep dive into the world of coding bootcamps!
We’ve got the inside scoop on coding bootcamps from the perspectives of some amazing women, each of whom has been through the coding bootcamp experience and is now thriving in her tech career. Take a look below to find out if a coding bootcamp is right for you.
1. What are Coding Bootcamps?
Coding bootcamps are immersive, intensive technical training programs that focus on getting students on the fast track to a tech career. Though the length of coding bootcamps vary, according to Course Report, the average coding bootcamp lasts about 15 weeks. After completing the program, students should feel ready to apply for an entry-level position.
Traditionally coding bootcamps were offered exclusively as onsite, full-time programs and the majority still are. However, the number of options available part time and/or online is growing.
This article mainly focuses on in-person, full-time bootcamps, but if you’re interested in an online or part-time option, feel free to take a look at General Assembly, Springboard, or The Tech Academy.
So is a coding bootcamp worth it? Worth the intense classes? Worth the time? Worth the cost? Let’s find out.
2. Coding Bootcamps: The Pros
Coding Bootcamps Offer Individualized Instructor Support
One of the benefits of coding bootcamps is the instructor support you can receive. When you’re learning something new and your mind starts racing with questions, being able to directly ask someone for help is extremely valuable (and saves hours of head scratching).
Marie Dagan, a Skillcrush alum who attended the Houston Coding Bootcamp, found this type of support instrumental. This former chemist turned junior front-end developer says, “The [bootcamp] program I attended was super supportive. The instructors, program managers, instructor’s assistants, and tutors were always available for extra help with questions or concerns and I truly felt that they had everyone’s best interest at heart. They really wanted to see each individual succeed.”
With many online courses, it can be difficult to receive that kind of individualized attention. So enrolling in a coding bootcamp means you can feel more confident that you’ll get the personalized support you need.
Coding Bootcamps Offer Structured Courses
Coding bootcamps tend to be well-designed and well-structured. They follow a specific syllabus and schedule, ensuring that you aren’t left with huge gaps in knowledge.
Some online courses, like Udemy, are à la carte, meaning you can pick and choose which specific classes you’d like to take. However, this approach can be less well-rounded and offers little to no learning path to help you determine which skills are most important for your new career.
With coding bootcamps, your course path is already laid out for you, which means much less guesswork on your part!
Coding Bootcamps Offer a Strong Sense of Community
Another positive feature of bootcamps is the strong sense of community and support that comes out of them.
Jenell Pizarro is a former bartender who became a Skillcrush instructor and now works as a lead UX developer. She completed The Iron Yard bootcamp before it closed its doors and thrived on its community aspect. She says, “I had fellow students to work alongside. It meant that there were people there that knew exactly what it was like when you were struggling to understand a concept. We could band together and do study sessions, go to local Meetups, and go to lunch together.”
Dagan similarly points out that her coding bootcamp allowed her to create strong connections to the tech industry at large. She says, “By the end of the program I had a portfolio to show to prospective employers, a network of individuals in the tech industry, and a vast network of alumni who have all gone through the program as well.”
When it comes to finding a tech job, the more connections you have, the better! So a program that not only teaches you the skills you need, but also helps you get connected to tech professionals is definitely something you’ll want to seek out.
But be sure to pay attention to the career services offered at the specific program you’re interested in. Pizarro says, “I… felt that [Iron Yard] didn’t have enough people helping out graduates for career services. There was only one person and she did awesome but she was still just one person and had to do that for every grad that didn’t get a job immediately. If there were more people, it would have benefited everyone.”
3. Coding Bootcamps: The Cons
Coding Bootcamps are Expensive
Though less expensive than earning a four-year degree, the cost of a coding bootcamp is still pricey. According to Course Report, the average in-person, full-time coding bootcamp cost in the United States and Canada is $11,900. So enrolling in one is definitely an investment decision you’ll need to seriously consider.
Skillcrush alum, bootcamp alum, and software engineer Sarah Ransohoff mentions that she had to cover 5 months of living expenses without an income while she attended the Flatiron School in NYC full time. She stresses that it’s essential to be aware of these types of hidden expenses.
If you still feel like a web developer bootcamp is the right path for you, but are concerned about the costs, some coding bootcamps offer deferred tuition or scholarships. If you’re interested, you can check out Codeup’s Women in Tech Scholarship or the Women Take Tech Initiative at the Flatiron School.
Coding Bootcamps are Geared to a Certain Type of Learner
Taking part in a coding bootcamp is the epitome of going all-in. A full-time program means learning to code takes up the majority of your waking hours.
Ransohoff explains that your success really depends on whether you’re able to focus exclusively on coding, all day, every day. Will you learn best that way? Ransohoff says, “It’s so important to know the answer to this question. Every day in a dev bootcamp, a ton of information is thrown at you, and you’re trying to make at least some of it stick, so your method of learning needs to jive with how the school does things.”
For Pizarro, this kind of focused environment was perfect for her. She says, “I loved that it was an in-person bootcamp that required complete time commitment. I lived and breathed code for 60-80 hours a week.”
If you thrive on this type of immersive, fast-paced learning experience, then coding bootcamps will be a great fit for you! But if you feel more comfortable moving at a slower pace, you may want to look elsewhere.
Coding Bootcamps are Inflexible
Though there are major benefits to coding bootcamps, there are also drawbacks. Attending in-person classes means you’ll have to be in a certain place at a certain time, and that’s every day if you’re enrolled in a full-time program. This type of schedule may be difficult or even impossible for those who are raising families or working full-time and need classes that offer more flexibility.
Furthermore, while the amount of in-person coding bootcamps is growing, you may find yourself wondering, “Where are the coding bootcamps near me??” If that’s the case, you might need to consider relocating.
Instead, you may want to look into part-time or online bootcamps. Or, perhaps even better, you can find courses that are self-paced, so you can fit them into your schedule anytime and anywhere that’s convenient for you!
Are coding bootcamps worth it?
Enrolling in a coding bootcamp is a big commitment, both in terms of time and money. So be sure to explore your options before you enroll! As Dagan says, “…do your research and reach out to the program to ask questions. I would even recommend reaching out to graduates of that particular program on LinkedIn to get a more personal perspective…”
And if you realize a coding bootcamp isn’t the right choice for you, that’s totally ok! Pizarro says, “Sometimes the best bootcamp is no bootcamp and finding free or affordable resources or online alternatives like Skillcrush might be what’s best for you, your family, and your budget.”
No matter which route you choose to take, transitioning to a tech career will bring you the freedom, flexibility, and fulfillment you’ve been hoping for!
And if you are looking for an alternative to a coding bootcamp, be sure to check out our go-at-your-own-pace, mentor-led courses that were expertly designed to get you the skills you need to make the tech career of your dreams come true!