High Level: Coding Bootcamps 101
- Coding bootcamps are intensive, accelerated learning programs that teach beginners digital skills like Full-Stack Web Development, Data Science, Digital Marketing, UX/UI Design, Cybersecurity, and Technical Sales.
- The average bootcamp costs ~$14,000, and graduates report an average starting salary of $69,000. Bootcamps can vary in length from 6 to 28 weeks, although the average bootcamp is ~14 weeks long.
- There are bootcamp campuses in over 85 cities throughout the US/Canada, although many bootcamps moved online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coding bootcamps are predicted to graduate 25,000 students and gross $350MM in tuition revenue in 2020.
- The average bootcamper has 7 years of work experience, has at least a Bachelor's degree, and has never worked as a programmer. However, the number of students with degrees appears to be declining slightly over time.
- A lot has changed since bootcamps launched in 2012: University Bootcamps are now competing with household bootcamp names, payment options like Income Share Agreements and Deferred Tuition have exploded in recent years, and many bootcamps are dipping into the corporate training market.
- At the end of this guide, we predict several trends in 2022, including the expansion of university bootcamp partnerships, adoption of veteran programs like VET TEC, ISA legislation, and more.
In This Guide
Coding bootcamps are intensive, accelerated learning programs that teach beginners digital skills like Full-Stack Web Development, Data Science, Digital Marketing, and UX/UI Design. Through project-based learning, coding bootcamps get students job-ready for a career in tech in about 12 weeks. There are more than 100 coding bootcamps in cities across the US and Canada, and ~50 bootcamps internationally. The average bootcamp costs ~$14,000, and graduates report an average starting salary of $69,000. Since the first bootcamps opened their doors in February 2012, this industry has grown throughout the US and around the world. Bootcamps can vary in length from 6 to 28 weeks, although the average bootcamp is ~14 weeks long.
Bootcampers graduate from bootcamps with a portfolio, an online presence, interview skills and more. Most bootcamps help graduates find an internship or match students with an employer network – in fact, in Course Report's most recent research, 79% of bootcamp alumni report being employed in programming jobs.
This year marks the 8th anniversary for the coding bootcamp industry, and more students than ever are learning to code at a bootcamp. Coding bootcamps are a $350 million industry and will graduate ~25,000 developers in 2020. But a lot has changed since coding bootcamps opened their doors.
Course Report launched in 2013 with 30 total bootcamp-style programs in our directory. Today, Course Report lists over 600! About 100 of those are full-time, in-person, immersive coding bootcamps in the US and Canada. There are bootcamp campuses in over 85 cities throughout the US/Canada. Coding bootcamps are predicted to graduate 25,000 students and gross $350MM in tuition revenue in 2020. In addition to this growth of the core industry, we see growth in several other areas:
- 306% Growth of Online Bootcamps – there were 15,619 graduates of these full-time, remote bootcamps in 2020.
- There are now over 120 University Bootcamps in the US
- Flexible Payment Options: the rise of ISAs, Deferred Tuition, and the use of Lending Partners like Ascent Funding (previously SkillsFund), Sallie Mae and Climb
- Corporate Training/B2B growth, which has risen from ~20,000 grads last year to ~25,000 grads in 2020
Note about Methodology: We survey actual schools for their graduation data each year. While there are other methods of estimating the bootcamp market like scraping LinkedIn, we worry that those methods severely overestimate the market because students rarely list the course taken at a bootcamp. Part-time or intro classes are often not outcomes-focused, so including them in a Coding Bootcamp Market Size produces a flawed view of the market. When we measure the market size each year, we are including only graduates of full-time, immersive bootcamps.
Coding bootcamps have different academic models than traditional universities which allow them to serve the needs of a variety of learners. There are 4 bootcamp models in the space: Full-Time In-Person, Full-Time Remote, Self-Paced, Part-Time Career-Focused. While the subjects taught are similar across models (typically web development, mobile development, UX/UI design, data science, and project management), the time commitment, outcomes expectations, depth and delivery of curricula vary based on model.
Full-Time, In-Person Bootcamps
These are the schools that we typically think about when talking about “coding bootcamps.” Immersive, full-time, in-person – students attend class for 40-80 hours each week in a classroom. Immersive bootcamps usually last 2 months to 7 months. Classes are held full-time and students can use facilities after class to review concepts and work on projects. Many intensive bootcamp students put in 80 hour weeks. To attend an intensive bootcamp, students must be prepared to give up their full-time job and limit outside activities for the course of the program. The Flatiron School Software Engineering Immersive, Turing School's Back-End Engineering Bootcamp, and Codesmith's Software Engineering Immersive are examples of this model.
Due to COVID-19, almost all coding bootcamps moved online in 2020. Starting in March 2021, some schools (like DigitalCrafts and LearningFuze) are moving back to in-person and hybrid classrooms. We're keeping track of these COVID-19 updates here!
Full-Time, Remote Bootcamps
Online Coding Bootcamps almost mimic the classroom experience – these are full-time bootcamps that require 40-60 hours per week (this is no MOOC)! Typically, online bootcamps will either use pre-existing tools like Zoom Pro and build communities on Slack. Schools like Hack Reactor Remote, Thinkful's Engineering Immersion, and Lambda School's Full Stack Web Immersive are immersive, instructor-led bootcamps. Like their in-person counterparts, online bootcamps teach UX design, data science, and software development, have outcomes-oriented curricula that include one-on-one instructor/mentor guidance, interaction with classmates, and targeted career coaching.
Self-Paced Online Bootcamps require less of a time commitment each week (~10-20 hours) but take longer to complete. Typically, students complete curriculum and projects on their own schedule and meet with a mentor several times each week. Most online schools also have an online community where students can connect with each other. One plus? You can enjoy the benefits of bootcamp from the comfort of your own home and don't need to quit your job to upskill. Thinkful's Engineering Flex and Springboard's Software Engineering Career Track are great examples of the self-paced online bootcamp.
Part-time coding bootcamps usually meet on nights and weekends. Students study programming over a longer period of time (~6-9 months) and spend 6-15 hours per week in class and another 10-15 hours per week on outside work. Students in part-time bootcamps usually hold part-time or full-time jobs in addition to class. The goal for a part-time bootcamper is typically to land a new job or get a promotion at work, but some part-time students' goals are to simply add new tools to their resume. For example, a Product Manager may take a part-time coding bootcamp to become more fluent with developers at work. Examples of quality part-time bootcamps are Actualize's Nights and Weekends Course or DevMountain's After Hours User Experience Design Course.
Tuition ranges from $3,500 to $30,000 for a coding bootcamp, with an average tuition of $14,142.
The cost of a bootcamp education doesn't even compare to a 4-year degree: While coding bootcamps cost an average of $14,142, the tuition at top CS programs can be triple or quadruple that in just one academic year. Carnegie Mellon undergraduate tuition and tuition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is about $60,000-70,000 per year. Students also must consider opportunity cost and living cost – the longer you are studying, the longer you will have to make ends meet on a tight budget.
TREND ALERT: Over the years, coding bootcamps have gotten much longer: from just under 11 weeks in 2015 to just over 15 weeks in 2019. And interestingly, we find that the length of the bootcamp actually does have an impact on post-graduation average salary: the average salary after an 8-week bootcamp is $58,248 versus the average salary after a bootcamp that’s longer than 16 weeks, which is $71,103. While most bootcamps are 12-14 weeks long, schools like Turing School (7 months), Ada Developers Academy, and Holberton (up to 2 years) are examples of longer bootcamps.
In our latest research, we found that 26% of 2019 bootcamp graduates are using external loans to cover tuition (that's up from 23% in 2018). The most popular lending partners used are Ascent Funding (previously Skills Fund) and Climb Credit. 45% of bootcampers who used an external loan opted for Ascent Funding/Skills Fund; 24% used a Climb Credit loan. Other lending partners in the space include Upstart, Quotanda, Sallie Mae, Earnest, and Pave.
As of June 1, 2019, there are coding bootcamp courses in 71 US cities and 38 states, and 14 online. Location data is from a sample of 180 courses from all 96 qualifying schools.
6 Canadian bootcamps graduated 888 students in 2018, will graduate an estimated 1,057 in 2019, and will generate $12,056,406 in revenue in 2019. The most popular teaching language in Canadian bootcamps is divided evenly between Ruby on Rails and MEAN Stack. As of June 1, 2019, there are coding bootcamp courses in 7 Canadian cities and 4 provinces.
On top of the technical curriculum, most bootcamps offer services to help prepare students for the job market. Almost all students report receiving some form of assistance: career days, resume prep, apprenticeship, on-site interviews, and more. The most popular services offered are resume assistance and networking events.
The majority of graduates of coding bootcamps are finding full-time employment, and 83% of graduates surveyed say they've been employed in a job requiring the technical skills learned at bootcamp, with a median salary increase of 56% or $25,000. The average starting salary of a bootcamp grad is $69,079. Course Report's Annual Outcomes & Demographics Study dives into graduates' success, analyzing not only demographics and outcomes, but also how previous experience, income, location, and other factors impact a student's average salary and ability to get a job.
As bootcamp grads progress in their careers, salaries rise as well. In our latest survey, Course Report found that in their second jobs after bootcamp, alumni see a 23% salary lift to ~$80,000. And by their third jobs, alumni report earning, on average, $95,000 per year! This data confirms that as new grads become more experienced developers, they’re also increasingly valuable to their teams and companies (and can command higher salaries).
Other factors like location certainly impact salaries – graduates working in California see the highest salaries; the average is $100,482. Next up is New York, where grads make an average of $74,756. Interestingly, graduates who studied online had the third highest average salary of $70,500. However, living costs are likely to be higher in those tech hubs in California and New York, so students should make sure to take that into consideration when looking for a job.
The average bootcamper has 6 years of work experience, has at least a Bachelor's degree, and has never worked as a programmer. However, the number of students with degrees appears to be declining slightly over time.
ISAs and Deferred Tuition can align a school’s incentives with those of its students. Essentially, if their students aren’t successful, then neither is the school. However, these payment offerings require schools to take on additional risk, so you shouldn’t expect to see every school offering deferred tuition or ISAs. The terms and conditions between bootcamps are also incredibly nuanced, so students should do additional research to understand whether there is a cap on repayments, minimum salaries that trigger repayment, and the total amount paid compared to a traditional loan.
How Popular are ISAs & Deferred Tuition?
Income Sharing Agreements (ISAs) and Deferred Tuition are two trends on the rise in the bootcamp industry. For 2020 graduates, 60% of respondents either used or were offered an ISA/Deferred Tuition. 11% actually used an ISA and 8% actually used a Deferred Tuition Plan. Interestingly, students who chose to use an ISA or Deferred Tuition earned higher salaries after graduation and saw greater salary lifts – ~$10-15K higher salaries – but also paid ~$3000 more for tuition.
What is Deferred Tuition?
Deferred tuition means students pay no upfront tuition (or very little), then start paying a set tuition amount once they graduate and find a job. You should expect to see a fixed total tuition cost that you will pay to the school in installments.
What is an Income Sharing Agreement or ISA?
An income sharing agreement means students agree to pay a percentage of their salary to the school for a set period of time. Depending on the school, the percentage can range from 8% to 25%, and you may be sharing your income for 1 year to 4 years. ISAs have also been popularized by colleges like Purdue University – though the minimum salary that triggers repayment at Purdue is $20,000, which pales in comparison to the $40-50K minimum salaries we see from bootcamps. At the end of the day, Income Sharing Agreements are another way for schools to show potential students that they're confident in their ability to get students jobs. Our recommendation is to ask the school for an Outcomes Report – that's the most transparent method to see if they get their students jobs.
Income Sharing Agreements are financial instruments (like a loan). But they currently fall into a bit of a grey area. Many schools use a third-party organization like Vemo Education or Leif to design, implement, and “take the complexity out of” offering Income Sharing Agreements. Traditional lenders like Ascent Funding even started designing ISAs in 2020! We expect 2022 to bring regulation to the ISA industry.
What are the advantages of Deferred Tuition and ISAs?
- ISAs and Deferred Tuition can align the school’s incentives with those of their students. If their students aren’t successful, then neither is the school.
- A high-quality ISA has a payment cap – i.e. the most you will pay is 1.5X the tuition cost.
- Takes the pressure of upfront tuition off of students
- Expands accessibility to bootcamps to a wider pool of students by making it possible for a student without $20,000 in savings to enroll
- Job guarantees can be heavily regulated, so deferred tuition and ISAs are another way to prove to students that a bootcamp’s incentives are aligned with the goals of their students
Online coding bootcamps offer convenience and structure without forcing students to quit their job or move to a new city. 15,619 developers graduated from these full-time, remote bootcamps in 2020 and we expect this space to continue growing, especially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
MOOCs have infamously low graduation rates, but online coding bootcamps are not MOOCs! Schools like Hack Reactor Remote, Thinkful, and Springboard are offering immersive, instructor-led bootcamps that keep students engaged and even guarantee jobs. Like their in-person counterparts, online bootcamps teach UX design, data science, and software development, have outcomes-oriented curricula that include one-on-one instructor/mentor guidance, interaction with classmates, and targeted career coaching.
Each year, we spend months choosing a list of the best online bootcamps. But remember, there is no ultimate “best online coding boot camp” – the best code school for you depends on your own learning style, availability, and career goals. No matter how many accolades a school has, make sure to do your research: read reviews, talk to alumni, take an intro course, and ask about job outcomes data.
Typically, online bootcamps will either use pre-existing tools like Zoom Pro and build communities on Slack. Some schools like Software Guild have built their own proprietary learning platforms. Remember that learning to code online is different than learning in a classroom. Here's our advice:
- First, find a course that supports your learning style.
- Be sure to carve out time to dedicate to the online bootcamp and make the most of your support network (instructors, mentors, alumni network, etc).
- Take advantage of offline opportunities like Meetups or Thinkful Communities
- Finally, code every day and network aggressively to get a job when you graduate!
Impact on Bootcamps
In March 2020, coding bootcamps reacted to stay-at-home orders quickly by transitioning to remote learning. 84% of bootcamps reported that they moved entirely online during the COVID-19 pandemic. 12% of schools reported that they were already online. Only 4% of schools reported that they did not move entirely online during COVID-19 (they either paused enrollment or maintained a hybrid classroom). As a result, we saw a complete shift in market size and growth rate from in-person to online.
Impact on Bootcamp Alumni
At Course Report, we kept tabs throughout 2021 (and into 2022) on how coding bootcamps are responding to and meeting the needs of their current and upcoming cohorts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Online coding bootcamps were already using Zoom video, Slack, GitHub, and VS Code Live Share for pair programming, online lectures, and to connect mentors and instructors with students.
One impact of COVID-19 that we see in the data is that 26% of 2020 graduates reported being unemployed before bootcamp. This is much higher than previous years and makes perfect sense in light of the economic recession starting in March.
We asked bootcamp alumni how the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted their careers. 75% of bootcamp alumni either experienced no change due to COVID-19 or shifted to remote work. 25% of bootcamp alumni were negatively impacted by COVID-19, which meant that they were either had not found a job, were laid off/furloughed or took a pay cut. The fact that 50% of bootcamp alumni were able to move into remote work during a global recession demonstrates the resilience of these tech jobs.
Good News: Average salaries for In-Person bootcamp alumni were almost identical to salaries for bootcampers who learned Online – about $69,000.
In-person coding bootcamps swiftly transitioned to delivering live remote instruction and so many bootcamps offered new hardship scholarships and initiatives to support students breaking into tech now. In 2020, bootcamps offered $13.5M in scholarships for students impacted by COVID-19.
In 2020, bootcamps were chosen for 34 workforce development grants in 28 states. Federal programs like WIOA (the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act), the CARES act, and even private/public initiatives can make it possible to attend a bootcamp tuition-free! A handful of bootcamps like Tech Elevator and Coding Temple actually got WIOA-approved in the past year. A few notable examples of these workforce development partnerships are:
- ChiCodes, a partnership between Chicago Cook Workforce, City of Chicago, and Coding Temple.
- Career Discovery NYC and the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline in New York.
- WorkSource Atlanta, an agency within the City of Atlanta whose mission is to provide job seekers with up to $7,000 in funding for bootcamps like DigitalCrafts.
- Find a full list of workforce development opportunities here.
As we think about the ways that the US will continue to retrain and rebuild our economy post-COVID, bootcamps are already in the position to take that on because of the partnerships forged with workforce development boards in 2020.
As of March 2021, we estimate that more than $1.784 billion has been invested in the bootcamp industry (not including another $999 million in bootcamp-adjacent fundraises like Udemy and Climb Credit). Since Kaplan acquired Dev Bootcamp in 2014, 28 bootcamps have been acquired; many of these deal details weren't disclosed, but the General Assembly (bought by Adecco for $413M) and Trilogy Education (bought by 2U for $750M) top the list. Here's a full chronicle of every coding bootcamp acquisition and fundraise since 2014!
As of October 2021, bootcamps have already secured over $1 Billion in funding! The largest fundraises were Emeritus's $650M fundraise for university bootcamps and Product School's $25M Series A round. Bootcamp-adjacent companies like Codecademy and Blair Capital also raised an additional $158M in 2021. On top of those major fundraises, we've already seen two major acquisitions in 2021 – Brainstation acquired Wyncode in January and SNHU acquired Kenzie Academy in March.
Bootcamps secured ~$160,000,000 in funding throughout 2020 – the largest fundraises were Lambda School's $74M Series C and Springboard's $31M Series B. Bootcamp-adjacent companies like Coursera and Udacity also raised an additional $385M in 2020. On top of those major fundraises, we saw several major acquisitions in 2020 – for example, Stride/K-12 purchased Galvanize for $165M and Tech Elevator for $24M, and WeWork sold Flatiron School to Carrick Partners for an undisclosed amount.
- Lambda School closed their Series C and raised $74M in equity, with the largest investment coming from Gigafund, the VC that has invested in SpaceX.
- Springboard received a $31 million dollar investment led by Telstra Ventures.
- Code Institute raised €1.2 million to expand online coding courses. The round was led by Kernel Capital, through the Bank of Ireland Kernel Growth Funds, and Infinity Capita
- Paris-operated coding bootcamp Le Wagon closed a funding round of $19 million this month. The funding round was led by Cathay Capital and Africvest.
- Microverse raised $3.2 million in seed funding from venture capitalists including General Catalyst and Y Combinator.
- Indonesian-based coding bootcamp Hactiv8 raised $3M this January.
In 2019, we estimate that the bootcamp industry saw $170MM in fundraising (not including debt financing). The largest fundraises of 2019 included:
- Online bootcamp Lambda School raised $30 million in January to expand its income sharing agreement (ISA)
- Make School also raised $15 million in series B funding in April in order to expand to New York City
- Kenzie Academy raised $7.8 million in Series A funding to expand to students online and in the Midwest
- Momentum coding bootcamp in Durham, North Carolina, raised $2.75 million to strengthen its existing immersive courses – run by former Iron yard execs.
- Springboard raised $11M to expand mentor-driven coding bootcamps
3 Ways the Bootcamp Industry is Consolidating
Bootcamps Acquiring Other Bootcamps
- Bootcamps have been acquiring each other since 2015. This is a great way to expand into markets where a school has lower name recognition. For example, Fullstack Academy acquired StarterLeague in Chicago in 2016 and now runs a thriving Chicago campus. Another motivation is to buy out competition, as in the case of Thinkful acquiring Bloc in 2018 (and previously The Viking School).
Traditional For-Profit Universities Acquiring Bootcamps
- Capella Education (now Strategic Education) acquired Hackbright Academy and DevMountain in 2016. We know from Strategic Education's most recent quarterly filings that the bootcamps are now generating returns for the company.
- While some of these deals have been successful, others have been a letdown. Dev Bootcamp was acquired by Kaplan in 2014 and The Iron Yard was bought by Apollo Education in 2015 – by 2017, both schools had been shut down by their parent companies.
Education & Staffing Companies Broadening Portfolios
- Trilogy Education was acquired by 2U for ~$750MM, expanding 2U’s hold in higher education program management.
- Swiss staffing firm acquired General Assembly for $413MM and WeWork acquired Flatiron School – both deals present an opportunity to expand the pipeline from training to employment and placement.
Generally speaking, coding bootcamps are not accredited. However, the bootcamp you attend should be licensed by a state regulatory agency. Licensing often means that the school has to submit their curricula (and any major curricula changes) for approval, invest in liability insurance in case of closure, and publicize their course catalog. It does not mean that the code school is able to grant degrees.
State regulatory agencies like the California Bureau for Post Secondary Education (BPPE) and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) have cracked down on schools operating without a license (and online schools, which present even more ambiguity). Lambda School was recently fined by the BPPE in California, Flatiron School was fined by the Attorney General of New York, and as the industry gains more steam, it also gains attention from critics and regulators.
To combat that outside criticism, a coalition of bootcamps formed the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR) in 2016 and started publishing student graduation and job placement data in a single, standardized framework. The Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR) is a non-profit whose members include both bootcamps and "stakeholder" organizations, who have developed a common framework for reporting on, documenting, and auditing student outcomes. CIRR schools must report their outcomes every six months, and their data must be backed up by documentation (meaning schools must collect written confirmation from students and employers or offer letters) and verified by a third-party.
Before CIRR, schools attempted to form NESTA. And around the same time, worked with the Obama Administration on EQUIP. Under the EQUIP program, in essence, a university partnered with a coding bootcamp and a quality assurance entity (QAE), and as a result, students could effectively get financial aid and/or college credit for completing a coding bootcamp. The DOE called these partnerships “test sites” and announced awarded $17M in grants in August 2016.
Universities have now been partnering with coding bootcamps since 2016, but there is a ton of nuance between these university bootcamps. In 2022, there are about 150 university bootcamps in the Course Report directory (and counting)! The leading OPM is Trilogy Education (owned by 2U), followed by Quickstart and Fullstack Academy, as well as HackerU. Trilogy bootcamps are offered through the Continuing Education Department at each university and do not qualify for federal student loans or college credit. Competitors to Trilogy, like Noodle Partners and Quickstart Education, have broken into the market in 2019 as well. Other university coding bootcamps offer college credit, like Dominican University and Make School. Portland coding bootcamp Epicodus has partnered with Warner Pacific University to create a program called sourceU, where students take introductory college classes through the university, then do Epicodus' 27-week web and mobile development course. Students then take an additional 4 months of WPU courses, before graduating with an Associate's Degree.
Tips for Choosing the Best University Coding Bootcamp
- Ask for Student Outcomes! Yes, the prestige of a university being involved with a coding bootcamp is impressive – but the appeal of a coding bootcamp is that you get relevant, hands-on training that employers are looking for. If your goal is to get a job after graduating, then be sure to ask the bootcamp for data about their alumni. What's the graduation rate? What percentage of graduates are employed within 3 months? What's their average starting salary? These are all questions you can ask to be sure that the bootcamp will help you get a job after graduating.
- Understand who will be teaching the course. Most often, a bootcamp instructor will be teaching this course – this means you can expect to learn from someone with real-world, professional experience. But if you're expecting a university professor, then be sure to ask about this upfront.
- Research the bootcamp itself. It can be easy to get caught up in fancy university names. After all, if an Ivy League university is associated with the bootcamp, it has to be the best, right? Wrong! Do as much research as you would for an independent bootcamp.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for software developers is expected to grow by 17%, “much faster than average” by 2024, which is about 200,000 more roles. Software developers are already expensive, and “harder than average to recruit," so more and more companies are thinking about re-training their own workforce. For example, AT&T is currently retraining 100,000 employees. As the industry grows, these bootcamps have identified a need for companies to provide in-house training for their employees. Many bootcamps now offer a range of customizable corporate training programs. In 2020, coding bootcamps trained 25,162 students in digital skills via 493 corporate training partners!
Bootcamps offer a number of ways to upskill/reskill employees in a corporate setting:
- On-site training
- Online training
- In-classroom training
- Custom hackathons
- Upskill current employees to keep them engaged and learning eg. this partnership with Liberty Mutual and The Software Guild
- Mentor or onboard new hires
Last year, we reported a lot about the Forever GI Bill; in 2021-2022 we’ll start to see more veterans taking advantage of VET TEC and depending on how that pilot goes, we could see even more veterans in bootcamps.
We’ll continue seeing bootcamps offering ISAs – and regulation will catch up to this space under the Biden Administration. As a result, we’ll see CIRR grow in its importance and membership.
As the demand for cybersecurity and data professionals rises, bootcamps will continue to react and launch new courses to meet market demands.
There is a lot of opportunity in university partnerships – we hope to see rigorous and transparent outcomes standards applied to these university bootcamps.
In 2021, bootcamps were chosen for 34 workforce development grants in 28 states. As we think about the ways that the US will continue to retrain and rebuild our economy post-COVID, bootcamps are already in the position to take that on because of the partnerships forged with workforce development boards in 2020.
- In response to the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote learning and employment will remain crucial to the growth of the bootcamp industry.
|PREPPING FOR A BOOTCAMP||BOOTCAMP APPLICATIONS|
|1. Coding bootcamp vs college: what's my best option?||8. How do I answer coding bootcamp interview questions?|
|2. Can I learn to code on my own?||PAYING FOR BOOTCAMP|
|3. Am I ready for a coding bootcamp?||9. How much should I budget at a bootcamp?|
|NARROWING YOUR OPTIONS||10. How do I pay for a coding bootcamp?|
|4. What type of coding bootcamp should I attend?||JOB PLACEMENT|
|5. Should I move cities for a coding bootcamp?||11. Will I get a job after a coding bootcamp?|
|6. Which programming language should I learn?||12. What can I do after a bootcamp education?|
|7. Where can I find coding bootcamp reviews?||13. Are coding bootcamps accredited?|
Can you really learn everything you need for a job in the tech industry without a computer science degree? Here are 5 things to consider when deciding between 4 months vs. 4 years of school.
- Cost. The cost of a bootcamp is equivalent to one semester of a CS degree program, but leads to a rewarding average starting salary of 60-70K.
- Return on Investment. You can complete a bootcamp in less time and with less money while still holding the same earnings potential as a CS grad.
- Time Commitment. CS Degree programs require a longer time investment, which means deeper understanding and more practice hours. In contrast, you’ll finish a bootcamp in a matter of weeks, but may need to spend some time doing self-study to get up to speed.
- Curriculum. For a more well-rounded understanding of computer systems and a general understanding of coding, a CS degree is a better option. To delve right into coding languages and their practical applications, bootcamp is the way to go.
- Career Outlook. If you want to launch or join a startup skip the CS degree and go to bootcamp. If becoming an executive at Google, Apple or Amazon is in your future, plan to earn a CS degree at some point down the road.
Once you’ve decided to learn how to code, you may be wondering if you can teach just teach yourself. History says, "YES!" Plenty of successful developers are self-taught using books, online resources, etc. Here are 6 things to consider when deciding if you should attend a bootcamp or teach yourself.
- Prior coding experience. Students with a computer science background or knowledge of programming, may find it easier to teach themselves. However, if you have no knowledge of programming and would like to learn quickly, it’s better to attend a coding bootcamp.
- Coding curriculum. It’s difficult enough to learn to code, and if you don’t have a guide, it’s hard to know how to teach yourself. If you find it difficult to find the tools you need, consider a bootcamp with a set curriculum.
- Learning style. Have you tried to teach yourself a new technical skill in the past? Were your past self-teaching attempts a success? Work out what your learning style is. If you find that you learn well on your own, it’s something you should try before bootcamp.
- Time and commitment. What is your Bootcamp ROI (Return on Investment)? You may save in the long run by paying for a bootcamp and reaping the benefits of a salary increase in just a few short months. Use the Bootcamp ROI calculator to determine your ROI.
- Your network. Do you know fellow programmers? Do you have contacts to find a job after you learn to code? If not, a bootcamp will surely provide a network and contacts, which are fundamental in any career transition.
- Set your goals. Are you a career changer or just seeking a new hobby? Take some time to self-teach before taking the plunge and quitting your job to join a bootcamp.
For more thoughts on self-stufy vs. coding bootcamps, read Bootcamp vs Self-Study: The Complete Guide.
Coding Bootcamps are intensive programs; while very rewarding, a coding bootcamp will be stressful and will push you. Before attending a bootcamp, consider if it’s the right fit for your learning style. Schools look for the following skills in intensive bootcamp applicants:
- Willingness to work hard – this is particularly important when applying to an intensive bootcamp. It’s a huge investment to spend 40-80+ hours a week over the course of several months to learn a new skill. You'll often hear the word grit throughout the admissions process, and that's exactly what schools are looking for in applicants. Bootcamps want to know that their students are committed to doing whatever it takes to succeed for the duration of the bootcamp. At the same time, make sure you avoid burnout.
- Ability to problem solve – An intense curiosity and desire to problem-solve are vital, because many bootcamps offer limited lectures and instead require students to spend most of the day solving challenges on their own. During the technical coding challenge, your approach to problem-solving can be even more important than solving the challenge.
- Interpersonal skills – Whether it’s called empathy or just “playing nice,” a bootcamp is a team sport. You’ll be spending the majority of your days learning alongside and coding with a small group of strangers. Those that demonstrate a desire to learn from and work with others will do well.
- Technical chops – Depending on the school. you may be required to pass a coding challenge in your interview. If you're not quite ready, take a coding bootcamp prep program.
- Complete a course on Codecademy, Treehouse or Udemy to discover if you like coding.
- Test your passion for coding at a weekend workshop like Railsbridge, Rails Girls, or Girl Develop It.
- Attend a meetup to build your own community of learners!
Acceptance rates at top coding bootcamps are notoriously low (some between 3-6%), but that doesn't mean that you're not ready to learn to code. Coding Bootcamps are generally upfront about the minimum demands they make on their students. Some "zero to sixty" code schools are meant to bring beginners into the fold and other "twenty to one-twenty" bootcamps aim to help current developers make a leap or learn a new technology stack. First, figure out what your own skill level is, and then find the bootcamp that aligns with that level.
Immersive coding bootcamps – Immersive bootcamps usually last 2 months to 7 months. Classes are held full-time and students can use facilities after class to review concepts and work on projects. Many intensive bootcamp students put in 80 hour weeks. To attend an intensive bootcamp, students must be prepared to give up their full-time job and limit outside activities for the course of the program.
Part-time coding bootcamps – Part-time coding bootcamps usually meet on nights and weekends. Students study concepts over a longer period of time and spend 6-15 hours per week in class and another 10-15 hours per week on additional concepts. Students in part-time bootcamps usually hold part-time or full-time jobs in addition to class.
Online coding bootcamps – More recently, the bootcamp trend has shifted thanks to online coding schools like Bloc, Thinkful, and other popular programs. Even if you choose to study online, you'll still have options between flexible or full-time courses. Students complete curriculum and activities on their own and meet with a mentor several times each week. Most online schools also have an online community where students can connect with each other. One plus? You can enjoy the benefits of bootcamp from the comfort of your own home. Watch demos of online coding bootcamps here.
Stuck between two bootcamps? Here are a few comparisons:
- Bloc vs. Thinkful (Online)
- Lighthouse Labs vs. CodeCore (Canada)
- Flatiron School vs. Dev Bootcamp (New York)
- App Academy vs. Flatiron School (New York)
While you will still find the majority of dev bootcamps in major tech hubs like San Francisco and New York, bootcamps have sprung up in smaller markets since 2012 (there are coding bootcamps in over 70 US cities)! Coupled with legitimate online coding schools that offer mentorship, you no longer need to move cities in order to get a solid education. Consider these things when making the decision:
- Where do you want to work after you graduate? If your goal is to get a job in your current city, then there's no reason to pack up yet!
- Do you have obligations in your current city? If you don’t have ties or if you're just ready for a big move, then perhaps a fully immersive experience could be beneficial in freeing you from distractions and offering a new experience.
- Does your current city have a credible coding bootcamp option? The Midwest, South, and even Malaysia, all have credible coding bootcamps. It’s not necessary to move cities (or countries) to get a solid foundation in programming and get a job as a software developer.
According to Course Report's latest 2020 Outcomes & Demographics Report, cities with the highest average salaries remain the large tech hubs with plenty of developer jobs: San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, New York City, Denver, and Los Angeles were among the cities with highest mean and median salaries. States like California, Washington, Texas, New York, and Colorado were among the states with highest mean and median salaries. Bootcamp grads in San Francisco saw the highest average salary of $97,666!
Coding bootcamps employ teaching languages to introduce students to the world of programming. While language shouldn’t be the main deciding factor when choosing a bootcamp, students may have specific career goals that guide them towards a particular language.
In that case, first decide whether you’d prefer to learn web or mobile development. For the web, your main choices are Ruby, Python, LAMP stack, MEAN stack and .NET languages. For mobile, choose between Java for Android and Swift or Objective-C for iOS. Learning a specific language may lead you to a new job market and offer pathways to different career tracks, average salaries and areas of business. However, many recent bootcamp graduates find that they end up learning and using a completely different language on the job. There is no “right” or “wrong” language to learn!
- Developing for iOS: Objective-C vs Swift (Webinar)
- Should You Learn .NET?
- Rails vs. Django: Which Should a Beginner Learn?
- Ruby vs. Python: Choosing your First Programming Language
- React vs. Angular
If you've graduated from a bootcamp, you should leave a review to help future students make their decision.
While coding bootcamp interviews will differ by school, you can expect certain elements across the board. Some interviews will begin with a “culture fit” while others begin with the coding challenge. Some schools have only one interview to assess both culture and technical aptitude. Here’s how to prepare:
Written or Video Application
- Read Quora, the bootcamp’s website, and blogs by its founder, former students, and alumni.
- Prior to the application do some self-assessment to determine your reasons for going to bootcamp. Are you preparing for a new career? Trying to learn a new skill to get a promotion? Scoping out a new hobby?
- Set aside at least one hour to answer the questions thoroughly and also give yourself time to edit answers as needed.
Culture Fit Interview
- Brush up on some of the online resources you started with, the bootcamp itself and its founders.
- If you've built personal projects or worked on something technical at your current job, be prepared to walk the interviewer through your portfolio.
- Technical Interview + Coding Challenge (optional)
Keep in mind that an interview is also an opportunity for you to have your questions answered so come in ready to pick the brain of your interviewer.
Most of all, don’t freak out! If you’re passionate about getting into coding and you study up, you have nothing to worry about. You’re going into a bootcamp to learn better skills. They won’t expect you to know everything- most importantly, show that you're receptive to teaching and eager to learn.
Many code schools have placement tests or online pre-work assessments that you complete as part of your application. Check out these tools for further practice:
Further Reading: 10 Questions You Should Be Asking in your Code School Interview and our Ultimate Guide to Bootcamp Prep Programs.
The average full-time programming bootcamp in the US costs $14,214 with some bootcamps charging up to $20,000 in tuition. When making a decision, first calculate your Return on Investment (ROI): do your research and compare bootcamp tuition costs to the average starting salary of past graduates. Be sure to consider the opportunity cost incurred by quitting your job, room & board, and any hidden fees from loans. Some bootcamps offer free or discounted housing. The amount of money that you’re willing to invest should probably correlate strongly with the amount of time and energy that you’re willing to put forth. Compare coding bootcamp tuition costs here.
Bootcamps are expensive. Because code schools are not degree-granting institutions, most bootcampers don't qualify for traditional student loans like Pell Grants. As a result, many students put their tuition on a credit card, borrow money from friends and family, or use savings. As the coding bootcamp industry has grown, so too has the business of financing them. Most bootcamps offer financing options, payment plans, and loan partnerships through companies like Ascent Funding, Pave, Climb Credit and Affirm, in addition to scholarships and discounts for women, military veterans, and underrepresented minorities.
Other creative ways to pay for your code school tuition:
- Students who are already employed and are attending bootcamp to gain skills for their current job are often able to work out a deal with their employer to cover some if not all of the cost of the bootcamp.
- Crowdfunding your coding bootcamp tuition is always worth a try!
- Certain bootcamps like App Academy and Viking Code School won’t demand tuition until you’ve been placed in a job.
- Ask the bootcamp if they offer a partial tuition refund if you accept a job with one of their hiring partners. Our research finds that 15% of graduates got a tuition refund this way.
- There are many great scholarship opportunities for coding bootcamps based on merit, gender, race, service in the armed forces, and financial need. Explore all of these options and don’t leave money on the table that you could’ve been putting towards your education!
- Course Report offers exclusive scholarships and discounts to over 25 bootcamps. Check out this list to see if your dream bootcamp is on our list!
- Ultimate Guide to Coding Bootcamp Loans and Financing
- Bootcamp Scholarships for Women
- Bootcamp Scholarships for Veterans
- Exclusive Course Report Bootcamp Scholarships
- 7 Tips to Financially Prepare for a Coding Bootcamp
- The Definitive List of Programming Bootcamp Scholarships
- Network and resources — If you’re attending a bootcamp in hope of changing careers, then you should find out what services are offered. Some bootcamps set up prospective interviews with potential employers, while others offer resume workshops and provide a list of hiring partners.
Job Placement — Consider a bootcamp’s job placement rate 30, 60, 90 and 120 days after the program. While some schools like App Academy SF only require you to pay if you get a job, most bootcamps don’t follow this model. Some bootcamps provide this information publicly via an industry organization called CIRR, while others may require some digging on Course Report.
Before applying to the bootcamp, do your homework:
- Read about coding bootcamps and visit their website.
- If you can't find a Student Outcomes Report easily, ask the school to provide one (along with their methodology)
- Read programming bootcamp questions on Quora to read answers from bootcamps
- Read bootcamp reviews and interviews with Alumni
- Visit the bootcamp space and talk to an instructor if possible
- Before applying to the bootcamp, do your homework:
Coding bootcamp graduates go on to do so many cool things. Here are just a few examples:
- Get a job as a junior developer at a large company you've always admired.
- Join a small dev team at a startup.
- Take an apprenticeship and learn from the masters for a few months after graduating.
- Become a technical co-founder and help launch a product.
- Freelance while you travel the world.
- Work for another coding bootcamp as an instructor, teaching assistant, or support staff.
- Find a job as a technical product manager.
- Take on new projects at your current company (and get a promotion or a raise while you're at it)!
13. Are Programming Bootcamps Regulated or Accredited?
Yes and no. Much of the appeal for a bootcamp is the agile curriculum and ability to teach the latest technologies. While a few coding bootcamps have been "shut down" by their state's regulatory agencies, many are actively working with those agencies to become accredited. Accreditation does not mean that the code school is able to grant degrees. So what does it mean? Accredited coding bootcamps often have to submit their curricula (and any major curricula changes) for approval, invest in liability insurance in case of closure, and publicize their course catalog. Here's an interesting perspective on accreditation from Bitmaker Labs CEO Craig Hunter.
Coding Bootcamps have caught the attention of many politicians and government bodies, including the White House Office of the CTO, President Obama (who launched the TechHire initiative in March 2015), and the current administration.
In March 2017, CIRR (Council on Integrity in Results Reporting) was announced as a group of over 50 bootcamps and member organizations who have developed a common framework for reporting, documenting, and auditing bootcamp student outcomes. This new coalition (which includes Course Report) is committed to publishing student graduation and job placement data in a single, standardized framework. Learn more as we break down CIRR here.
Further Reading: CIRR – Job Placement Reporting for Bootcamps