Are Coding Bootcamps Worth the Money?

August 23, 2023 · 6 minute read

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Are Coding Bootcamps Worth the Money?

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in the tech industry, coding bootcamps can be a quicker, more affordable alternative to getting a traditional degree. However, these courses still require a significant amount of time, energy, and money.

Are coding bootcamps worth it? They can be. You’ll want to keep in mind, however, that bootcamps vary in terms of quality, so finding a good one can take some research. In addition, the skills you learn from a bootcamp may not be enough to land the type of job or career you want.

Read on for key things you need to know about coding bootcamps. Including what they are, how they work, and how much you may be able to earn when you graduate.

What is a Coding Bootcamp?

Coding bootcamps are short, intensive courses designed to provide in-depth training in software development fundamentals, and prepare students for entry-level jobs in the tech industry.

Many people consider bootcamps when pursuing a career change or looking for a shorter path into the tech industry, as they last about 15 weeks on average.

Bootcamps are conducted in both traditional classrooms and online, and are designed to accommodate students with little-to-no coding experience.

However, not all coding bootcamps are accredited schools. While some boot camps are affiliated with universities and, therefore, required to uphold the educational standards of the institution it is in partnership with, most coding bootcamps remain privately owned with educational standards that may not necessarily be governed by any scholarly entity.

Therefore, coding bootcamps, no matter how appealing, may not all produce the same quality of education or warrant any recognition outside of the tech industry.

Recommended: How to Pay for Coding Bootcamps

How Much Do Coding Bootcamps Cost?

The cost of coding bootcamp can vary widely, and will depend on the school, the length of the program, whether classes are in-person or online, and whether you study full or part time. However, on average, tuition for coding bootcamp can run around $10,800.

While that’s not nothing, it’s a lot less than the cost of a traditional undergraduate degree. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average annual tuition at a public university is $9,678 for in-state students and $27,091 for out-of-state students. The average annual tuition for a private institution is $38,768. If you pursue a four-year bachelor’s degree program, tuition can total anywhere from $38,712 to $155,072, depending on where you go.

Like colleges and universities, many coding bootcamps now offer a range of funding options, so you don’t necessarily have to pay the full cost up front and out of pocket. These may include:

•  Scholarships: Some bootcamps offer scholarships for women, minorities, vets and even those experiencing hardships. You can often find out about scholarship opportunities by going to the tuition section of the bootcamp’s website.
•  Loans: External loans, including private student loans, are a common way to cover the cost of bootcamp.
•  VetTec/GI Bill: These military benefits provide veterans with tuition and fee assistance options. They currently only apply to a short, but growing, list of approved coding bootcamps.
•  Deferred Tuition: This allows students to enter and complete a coding bootcamp without upfront payment. You are required to pay back your tuition costs only after securing a job.
•  Income-Share Agreement (ISA): This is a wage-garnishment agreement between a bootcamp and a graduate. It generally specifies that once a graduate accepts a job, a portion of their income will be paid to the bootcamp for a specified length of time.

Is There a Stigma About Coding Bootcamps?

While coding bootcamps were once similar to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) — virtual, often free or low-cost, classes notorious for their low completion rates — many of these programs are now highly respected by employers.

Unlike MOOCs, which are structured to teach hundreds of students at a time, utilizing a primarily hands-off teaching model, coding bootcamps typically rely heavily on instructor direction. Indeed, there may be more than one instructor assigned to each class, which is often no larger than 20 students.

Many programs are also highly intensive, requiring as much as 40 hours of weekly instruction. In addition, these programs tend to rely on project-based teaching methods that require students to immediately put their learnings into action.

However, there is no standardization for bootcamps, so all programs are not created equal. As a result, finding the right bootcamp can take a fair amount of time and effort.

If you are currently employed, it can be a good idea to talk to your supervisor or HR department about any bootcamps you are considering to get a sense of how the company views the program, and how completing the course could impact your career with the company. It’s also worth investigating if your employer offers a tuition reimbursement program that could help you cover the cost of bootcamp.

Recommended: Student’s Guide to Certificate Programs

What Can I Expect From a Coding Bootcamp?

Completing any coding bootcamp should ultimately result in fluency in at least one coding language, such as Full Stack JavaScript, NET, Ruby on Rails, or Java. In addition, you will likely graduate with a portfolio of projects you completed during the course.

And because the goal of a bootcamp is to churn graduates directly into the tech industry, these programs often help graduates find, apply, and interview for industry positions.

Bootcamps generally don’t go much further than that, however. While starting salaries for coding bootcamp graduates average $69,000 a year, these programs may not provide all the education you need to succeed in a tech career.

Also, in some cases, coding skills aren’t enough on their own to land a job. Some employers, for example, may be looking for a broader set of skills in computer science or specialization in a certain field. Others may place high value on interpersonal or soft skills that allow you to work effectively in a team and communicate with coworkers.

As a result, even after completing coding bootcamp, you may find it necessary to go back and complete your college degree at a later date.

The Takeaway

Whether or not coding bootcamp is worth it depends on your career goals and the quality of the coding camp.

On the plus side, coding bootcamp generally costs a fraction of the cost of a typical college degree. At the same time, these programs allow you to gain in-demand skills in a relatively short period of time, and many also provide job search assistance.

However, coding bootcamp may not be a great choice if you are not sure that a tech career is right for you, or you don’t have the time, interest, and motivation to complete an intensive and demanding program. Also, if you are interested in a management career or moving beyond coding, you will likely need a traditional college degree.

Whatever education route you pursue, you will need to figure out how you will cover the cost of tuition and expenses. Fortunately there are numerous options, including scholarships, grants, work-study, tuition payment plans, and both federal and private student loans.

If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.

Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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