Coding bootcamps are often called a “fast track” to well-paying tech jobs. And with lower tuition costs, shorter class times, and a practical learning curriculum, these alternative education schools are praised for increasing access to a tech education. But are coding bootcamps really worth it? We’ve asked thousands of alumni about their investment and whether it paid off – here’s what we’ve found.
Short answer: the data says YES. If you want the long answer, let’s dig a little deeper into what makes an educational program worth it and how coding bootcamps measure up.
Right now, most university computer science programs are four years long and you can expect your tuition to ring in at about $163,140. The average bachelor’s degree holder earn $59,124. On the other hand, coding bootcamps are ~14 weeks long and average $11,874 in tuition. And the average coding bootcamp graduate earns $70,698. Bootcamp students can learn how to code faster and cheaper with guided support in smaller class sizes, and bootcamp graduates actually earn higher salaries than college grads.
Here are the facts – overall, 79% of coding bootcamp grads are employed full-time and take 1-6 months to get their first job. Everyone will have a different job search journey, but it’s important to remember that networking with other tech professionals and utilizing the coding bootcamp's career services help is vital to landing your first job.
In Course Report’s most recent study of 3,043 bootcamp graduates, we found that coding bootcamp graduates earn an average of about $70,000, but this increases as developers gain seniority in the industry. On average, graduates earn $80,943 at their second job after bootcamp, and $99,229 at their third job after bootcamp.
If you're interested in how coding bootcamp grads perform a few years out, Flatiron School surveyed more than 150 alumni who graduated one to four years ago to find out how their careers have positively progressed. Watch VP of Career Services, Rebekah Rombom, share what coding bootcampers can expect their career trajectories to look like.
Coding bootcamps are intensive, accelerated learning programs that teach digital skills like Full-Stack Web Development, Data Science, Digital Marketing, UX/UI Design, and Cybersecurity. In Course Report’s latest Outcomes Report, 80% of respondents say they've worked in a job requiring the technical skills they learned in the bootcamp. So if you have aspirations of becoming a software developer or data scientist, or a tech-adjacent job like a product manager, a bootcamp may be worth it.
While coding bootcamp tuition is substantially less than a traditional university, there’s still an important financial commitment when attending bootcamp. The average tuition for a coding bootcamp is about $12,000, and the use of external lending partners has increased dramatically over time – about 20% of students used a lending partner like SkillsFund or Climb Credit in 2017. And with the rise of deferred tuition and income sharing agreements, you can avoid paying tuition until you get a job. There are various ways to pay for a coding bootcamp – be sure you’re choosing an option that covers your costs, but doesn’t leave you with high-interest debt.
To understand if a bootcamp is worth it, you’ll need to calculate two figures: your total investment and your starting salary goal.
Total Investment: Be sure to consider Tuition (Pro Tip: the average bootcamp tuition is $11,874), Computer, Rent + Living Costs for 3-6 months
Starting Salary Goal: According to Course Report’s research, coding bootcamp graduates report an average of $70,698, with a median salary of $65,000 in their first jobs. On average, expect to make ~$70,000 per year.
The average bootcamp grad sees an average salary increase of 50.5% or $23,724(!) which almost immediately pays off your investment. Everyone’s story is different, but here’s how General Assembly graduate Ileana Ordonez calculated whether General Assembly was worth it.
However, maybe your salary isn't the most important factor to happiness and worth for you. In addition to salary, many bootcamp alumni find their jobs more gratifying and flexible, and their better quality of life is what makes a bootcamp worth it for them.
Just because the average bootcamper sees a salary lift, doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed these results. Here’s how you can make sure that coding bootcamp is worth it for you:
Choose a Legit Bootcamp – which bootcamps are worth it?
So you’ve now seen the stats; you know that the average coding bootcamper reports an 8.3/10 satisfaction rating. But what do real alumni actually say? Shameless plug – you can read thousands of reviews on Course Report! Here are a few first-hand sentiments:
Julia Wells went from non-profits to web development, and chronicles her salary change: “After Sabio, my first job was at IBIS World (…) making $62,000 per year as a Junior Developer (which was a $5K increase from my job in non-profits). Recruiters started buzzing, and I told them not to talk to me unless they could get me a job making $90,000. I thought this would get them to leave me alone, but someone offered me a job in Burbank at Health Data Vision for $90,000 in March 2015! I’m now on my third post-Sabio job as an Applications Developer, and two weeks ago, they offered me a raise to $102,000.”
For Emma Schaper, it’s not just about the salary (although it certainly helps): “I invested $10,000 in Software Guild and I knew there wasn’t a job guarantee. Software Guild alumni are lucky because a huge benefit of attending that bootcamp is the employer network. I am on the Search Product team at Best Buy now. I was a volunteer before this job, so by moving into this career, my salary multiplied by six! It’s a crazy jump when you think about it in a purely financial way, but you shouldn't just change careers for the financial reasons. You should get into tech because it's something that speaks to you.”
James Sullivan was able to launch his own business after learning to code at New York Code and Design Academy: “I can’t think of a more worth it investment of my time and money for an education. I don’t think I could have gotten a better experience if I’d gone to college and studied computer science.”
Employers continue to use coding bootcamps as a tech talent pipeline to hire qualified new developers – we’ve found that bootcamp alumni are working in over 650 different companies. And it’s not just startups! Established companies like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon, Dropbox, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, and Amex all hire from bootcamps like Fullstack Academy and the Grace Hopper Program. Bootcamps are evolving with industry trends, adding computer science fundamentals to their curricula, and employers are taking notice.
Employers like that they can receive tech talent with hands-on experience in a shorter amount of time. There are many reasons as to why employers love hiring coding bootcamp grads, here’s what some key employers have to say:
Pat Poels, Director of Engineering at Eventbrite, puts it this way, “If you make the investment, you choose the right people, and invest in them in the right way, it's going to pay off. Those bootcamp grads will be worth so much more to you down the road. Think beyond the next six months; what can these new hires mean for the next six years?”
For Razorfish’s Talent Acquisition Manager, Nick Easlick, “a coding bootcamp is able to turn over their curriculum quickly as the tech landscape changes. I hate to be crushing four-year universities because they definitely have their place in the tech space, of course, but it's hard for a four-year university with a very solid locked-in curriculum to change at that same pace. Bootcamps are teaching things that are more applicable, more emerging, more innovative than someone out of a four-year university.”
At Cisco, the Director of Experience Design, Dustin Beltramo and Technical Leader, Joe Sutton believe that most full-stack engineer resumes look the same. They’ve found that “the only way to really gauge a candidate is by the quality of the code they write.” And since schools like Hack Reactor have their final projects and other work available on GitHub, it’s easy to get a sense for what type of developer they’re going to be. On top of that, the two Cisco employers believe “the Hack Reactor program seems to prepare students exceptionally well, they have a good sense of what it’s like to work on a modern web development project.”
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