Guide


What is a Coding Bootcamp Like?

By Nat Davis
Last Updated March 22, 2022

Coding bootcamps are certainly the most efficient way to quickly make a successful career pivot. But what is a coding bootcamp actually like? Since 2014, we’ve spoken with hundreds of alumni about their in-person, online, full-time, part-time, and self-paced bootcamp experiences and now we’re sharing their insights with you! Let’s break down a typical day at a bootcamp, teaching styles, and exactly what to expect in a bootcamp classroom. 

What is a Coding Bootcamp Like?

Here’s what you should expect:

  • You’ll commit 40-60 hours a week (or 15-20 hours at a part-time bootcamp) – consider a bootcamp your full-time job!
  • You’ll learn from instructors, mentors, and TAs (teaching assistants who are probably recent graduates).
  • Part of the value of a bootcamp comes from the accountability of your cohort; your classmates will become your network!
  • A coding bootcamp classroom will feel different from a MOOC or a college classroom.
  • You’re learning a new skill, so it’s going to feel like “drinking from the firehose.” The teaching style is a blend of lecture, pair programming, group work, and solo projects
  • Towards the end of the bootcamp, you’ll focus on career services like resume prep, networking, career fairs, job placement, and sometimes apprenticeships. 

A Typical Day at a Full-Time Coding Bootcamp

A typical day at a full-time coding bootcamp is structured similarly to a 9-5 job. Your day often starts with a warm-up challenge or quiz, a refresh on the previous day’s material, and an introduction to that day’s curriculum. Minchan, a Codesmith bootcamp grad, says, “Each day started with a quick stretch to get us warmed up. For the first half-hour we solved a data structure algorithm problem, then we would review the previous day’s problem for another half-hour.”

Sample Day at a Bootcamp

9am-10am Warm Up Challenge/Quiz
10am-1pm Learn a New Topic in Lecture/Code-a-Long
1pm-2pm Lunch (maybe a lunch & learn)
2pm-4pm Pair Program 
4pm-6pm Individual or Group Project Work
6pm-7pm Dinner Break
7pm-8pm Fireside Chat with a local hiring manager
8pm-10pm Optional Homework/Project Work

After an average 8-hour day, there is often 2-4 hours of homework, making many of these days 12-hours of intensive coding material. Most full-time coding bootcamps consist of 40 hours in-class, but bootcampers can spend up to 60-80 hours in total per week, practicing, reviewing, and completing assignments. 

A Typical Day at a Part-Time Coding Bootcamp 

Part-time coding bootcamps often teach the same curriculum as full-time, but spread out in twice the time. If a full-time immersive can be completed in 3-4 months, a part-time immersive takes 6-9 months to complete. Depending on the program, some classes may require attendance 2-3 times a week, while others are self-paced (asynchronous) with occasional mentor check-ins. 

Sample Week in a Part-Time Bootcamp

Monday Self-driven learning/homework
Tuesday 6pm-9pm In-Class Lecture
Wednesday Self-driven learning/homework
Thursday 6pm-9pm In-Class Lecture
Friday Self-driven learning/homework
Saturday/Sunday 10am-5pm In-Class Projects

In total, you can expect to spend 10-20 hours each week on a part-time bootcamp. Here's some advice from real bootcamp grads!

Amy attended The Jump’s part-time online coding bootcamp in order to make a career change. She says:

“I would finish my day job, have dinner with my family, and go straight into the course. Sometimes it could be hard work to train for three hours after a full day of work because it was a lot of information. However, we did enjoy a 10-min break every hour to relax, stretch, get a drink, and start again. There was also always homework, such as a small project to build or some reading. I was coding every day for six months.“

Frank attended a part-time online cybersecurity bootcamp at Level Effect, which was held Monday through Thursday from 5-7pm. The first 15-30 minutes were self-paced, reviewing the upcoming material. He then spent the remainder of the session learning new content, including real-world, scenario-based daily challenges that would sometimes span multiple days in a weekly module. 

Michael attended Coding Temple’s part-time online coding bootcamp, while teaching remotely and raising a toddler. It was difficult at times to balance bootcamp with life and work responsibilities, but his commitment to treating this bootcamp experience as a full-time job eventually landed him a role as a Developer Relations Engineer! 

What is a Self-Paced Coding Bootcamp like?

A full-time coding bootcamp is inaccessible for some – maybe you need to keep your full-time job or and raise a family. In a self-paced bootcamp, you’ll learn during your free time, such as before or after work, during lunch breaks, and on the weekends. A self-paced bootcamp like Springboard matches you with a mentor to keep you accountable and answer technical questions along the way.

Students will typically finish the program in 9 or 12 months. Since students may not be meeting every week in a classroom, a self-paced curriculum includes reading, videos, practice exercises, weekly assessments, and solo projects.

Learning In-Person vs Online at a Bootcamp

While the curriculum is often the same in online and in-person bootcamps, the experience will be different. 

Pro's of Online Bootcamps Pro's of In-Person Bootcamps
  • Flexibility
  • No commute
  • Prepares you for remote jobs
  • Easy to form a network
  • Accountability
  • Easy to collaborate with classmates

 

Whether you’re learning in-person or online, it’s important to form a community. Those connections are crucial to getting through the program and often turn into lifelong friends. For example, Gavin attended Lighthouse Labs and raved about their community support: “One of the reasons I wanted to go to Lighthouse Labs was for this community. It was a breath of fresh air to connect with other passionate, like-minded individuals in the Lighthouse Labs community, even before the bootcamp began.” And Hackbright Academy alum Julie says, “My cohort was super supportive and very inclusive. We were always messaging each other and planning activities outside of class, like our Friday virtual get-togethers after class.” 

Typical Teaching Styles at a Bootcamp

The teaching styles at coding bootcamps can vary, but you can expect a blend of lecture, pair programming, group work, and solo projects

Darshan says learning at General Assembly “was very interactive. Their whole philosophy is based on the ‘I do, we do, you do’ method,’ where the instructor shows the class how to do a concept, we work together as a class, then there is individual homework to try it on our own.” 

Although you’ll learn technical skills at a bootcamp, one core tenant is that students learn how to learn. Shantal went to Tech Elevator and credits this skill for her success as a software engineer at JP Morgan: “The most valuable thing I learned at the bootcamp was how to learn. The frameworks and technological skills are great to learn, but the real value is learning how to learn in a short amount of time, under duress or a deadline, and how to produce a viable result. That's what it's like to work in the real world; you're given a deadline, you might not know everything about the system you're trying to implement, but you learn along the way, iterate, and create the desired result.”

Who teaches at a coding bootcamp?

Bootcamp Instructors should be industry professionals with valuable in-field experience. Most instructors are available for questions during class, as well as before and after class via 1:1 meetings, and online chat services like Slack and Discord. Eric, a boot camp instructor from The Coding Boot Camp at UT Austin says that teaching is like being a gym teacher — Students “have to do the work. You won't see results until you're doing it, practicing it, working with it. I'll be there to hold the bar, correct your form, and to demonstrate how to do it, but ultimately what you're looking to do is to be able to do the work yourself.”

Teacher’s Assistants (TAs) are usually recent graduates who just went through the same experience and can empathize with the newness and anxiety of learning a new skill set, especially at an accelerated pace. Instructors and TAs make themselves available for bootcampers via Slack and Discord channels, email, and 1:1 meetings. 

Some self-paced bootcamps match students with a personal mentor. Students may schedule weekly meetings with their mentor to go over project-work and ask questions about technical concepts and the career. Mentors often make themselves available to students over email and via Slack and Discord channels. Springboard alum Michael says that his mentor "answered all my questions and acted as my guide. He was really encouraging during the overwhelming moments when I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel; he helped me balance that perception… Those encouraging moments really helped me through the tough points.”

What are Career Services Like at a Bootcamp?

One of the main features of a coding bootcamp experience, beyond the technical skills, is career readiness. Many coding bootcamps pride themselves on a job guarantee or high job placement rates. According to our annual Alumni Outcomes Data, career services at bootcamps typically include resume prep, networking, career fairs, job placement, and sometimes apprenticeships. Coding bootcamps may also offer help with personal branding, mock interview and whiteboard, and honing soft skills

Expect to meet regularly with a career advisor. It’s not uncommon to be able to reach back out at any time after landing that first job, even years after, and get help with salary negotiation or promotions. Software Guild alum Judy says of their career coach, “I know their door is always open. If I was struggling to find a job, I know they would be able to assist me or pass my resume along. I know they have helped other bootcamp grads in the past as well.”

What is a coding bootcamp like compared to college?

There are a few differences between coding bootcamps and college classrooms

  1. You’ll learn job applicable skills at a bootcamp versus theory in a college degree. Codesmith grad Minchan says, “The main difference is that in college, the classes are more theory-focused. At a coding bootcamp like Codesmith, the classes are hands-on, practical application of technical skills and concepts directly related to the work you will do as a software engineer.”
  2. The pace at a bootcamp is much quicker than college. As Shantal shared, “The pace of innovation is so quick that often the technology you learn at the beginning of a college degree is obsolete by graduation.”
  3. Your bootcamp instructors will be industry professionals, as opposed to the highly-educated CS professors at a university.

In 2022, more companies are lifting their degree requirements, especially for web development careers. Springboard grad Hanna says, “You DO NOT need a degree to attend a bootcamp or get a job in software development. I am an art school dropout and I am fully employed now! The general trend in the industry is that it is not necessary to have a degree, so long as you can show on your resume that you’ve done projects, and can speak with confidence about how your work applies to your new role. Even if a job posting says, ‘bachelor’s required,’ there’s no penalty for applying to that job without a bachelor’s degree.”

What is a Coding Bootcamp Like Compared to Online MOOCs

With so many online resources that teach coding, some may forgo paying for either a bootcamp or a college to learn technical skills. However, many bootcamp graduates have said that they could only get so far without the structured curriculum and accountability that’s built into a bootcamp. Plus, having other disciplined and motivated individuals boosted their confidence and encouraged them to keep going when it got hard. TrueCoders alum Amber said, “I’ve tried self-teaching multiple times in the past but had more motivation with a bootcamp.

So there you have it – a bootcamp is not easy and it’s not a silver bullet. To make a career change, you need to put in the hours and the effort to get the most out of the bootcamp. But you can also expect a lot of support from instructors, career advisors, and classmates!

About The Author

Nat has been a writer and copyeditor for Course Report since 2020, on topics including guides to bootcamps, tech skills, and career outcomes. Nat leverages their own experience in online learning to relate to readers considering alternative learning paths. 

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