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Are Coding Bootcamps Worth the Money?

February 04, 2021 · 6 minute read

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Are Coding Bootcamps Worth the Money?

Coding bootcamps can be intense, expensive and demanding, but with some careful planning and perseverance, completing a course could net you a lucrative tech career.

The tech industry is exploding. In 2019 alone, over 13,000 new tech businesses were started, launching the total number of U.S. based tech companies to over 550,000. That many startups looking to carve out their place in the market bring with them an abundance of job opportunities. As a matter of fact, software and web developer jobs were the lead tech occupations available last year, reaching 1.5 million openings, and that number has risen annually for the past 5 years.

With such an overt need for developers in the tech field, it’s no surprise that coding bootcamps have exploded onto the scene in an effort to fill that void.

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 long on average.

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

On the other hand, coding bootcamps are not accredited schools.

Unless it is a University-Based Bootcamp, 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.

How Much Do Coding Bootcamps Cost?

There are hundreds of coding bootcamps across the globe, all varying in focus, length, and price.

Some bootcamps such as Ada Developers Academy and The Recurse Center offer free training to accepted applicants, while enrolling in the Turing School of Software & Design or the Rithm School could cost you upwards of $20,000.

On average, tuition for an in-person coding bootcamp is roughly $13,500, and online is slightly less at roughly $12,800. Compared to the average $27,000 spent annually on tuition at a 4-year institution, a coding bootcamp can be completed at literally a fraction of the price.

Tuition at coding bootcamps can be covered in any number of ways, and due to the steadily increasing demand for software developers, more bootcamps are increasing their accessibility by offering unique financing options.

•  Out of pocket—Last year, 35% of graduates covered their tuition themselves using funds directly from their personal financial accounts.
•  Scholarships—Some bootcamps offer scholarships for women, minorities, vets and even those experiencing hardships. Checking the tuition section on the website of any particular program can help uncover these unique opportunities.
•  Loans—External loans were the #2 method of covering bootcamp tuition costs last year. A SoFi Private Student Loan could potentially help cover the costs of a coding bootcamp without adding any additional fees.
•  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—A forgiving financing option, this allows students to enter and complete a coding bootcamp without upfront payment. Only after securing a job is the graduate required to pay back their tuition costs.
•  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?

It’s not uncommon for coding bootcamps to be likened to online classes or even Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), virtual, often low-cost, classes notorious for their high dropout and low completion rates. However, these programs operate in vastly different ways.

MOOCs are structured to teach hundreds of students at a time, utilizing a primarily hands-off teaching model that puts students in charge of the pace of their education. Features such as pre-recorded video lectures, computer-graded assessments and peer-to-peer learning further support the concept of students teaching themselves, with minimal support from an instructor.

Due to their complex subject matter, coding bootcamps rely very heavily on instructor direction. Over four instructors are assigned to a class, on average, and class sizes rarely exceed 20 students.

Mandated weekly instruction of 40+ hours is common and project-based teaching methods require students to immediately put their learnings into action. These traits alone make coding bootcamps more rigorous, immersive, and ultimately more effective, lending to a nearly perfect completion rate, and a hiring rate in the 80th percentile.

When it comes to hiring, most tech recruiters and HR managers value coding bootcamps certificates just as much as they value computer science degrees. In fact, 83% of employers believe that bootcamps graduates are just as skilled and will perform just as well or better than college graduates in the field.

From the employee’s perspective, 76% of software engineers attribute their readiness for an engineering position to the bootcamps they completed, and another 57% say they would be open to hiring a bootcamp graduate for an open role if they had the opportunity.

What Can I Expect From a Coding Bootcamp?

The completion of any coding bootcamp should ultimately result in the fluency of at least one of many coding languages used across the tech industry. Currently Full Stack JavaScript is most commonly taught, followed by NET, Ruby on Rails, and Java. Along with a new skill, those learnings are then reflected in highly valuable work portfolios that graduates are able to build based on their course projects.

And because the goal of a bootcamp is to churn graduates directly into the tech industry, they often provide additional training and aid, helping graduates find, apply, and interview for industry positions.

Approximately 83% of graduates report finding employment in their field after completing bootcamp, and nearly 75% find placement within three months of graduating.

Starting salaries average just under $67,000 annually for graduates, however students that opt for bootcamps lasting 17 weeks or more may benefit from a starting salary as high as $71,000, and all graduates can expect to see salary increases of 16-17% for each subsequent job they take.

Also, with top companies such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon known to hire the largest number of bootcamp graduates, career success via a bootcamp course is not unrealistic.

The Takeaway

Final results may vary as no two coding bootcamps are the same. Though they may all be fairly intense and have similar goals, the end results can vary widely based on the specific bootcamp being attended, the unique curriculum being used, the time frame it’s being taught in and whether you attend full- or part-time.

Truly understanding the opportunities and limitations a bootcamp certificate may possess, as well as the time and financial commitment required to complete a course successfully are key in determining whether or not taking this path is in your best interest.

Thoroughly researching all the bootcamps you may be considering can help ensure that not only do you know what to expect and what will be expected of you, but that completing a course will align with your specific needs and goals.

Interested in taking a coding bootcamp? See how a SoFi Private Student Loan could help you pay for the intensive course.

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