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Choosing a Coding Bootcamp:
Your Comprehensive Guide And Complete School List

Choosing the right coding bootcamp is a big decision. We want to help. Use Course Report's comprehensive guide to narrow down your options and read our answers to the most frequently asked questions about bootcamps. Then check out the best-reviewed coding bootcamps in our exhaustive list below. Which coding bootcamps have the best instructors, job placement, and curriculum? You'll find it all here.

By: Liz Eggleston

Last Update: 08/18/2016

What is a Coding Bootcamp?

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. Since Dev Bootcamp first opened their doors in February 2012, the programming bootcamp 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 ~12 weeks long.

Code schools teach a technical curriculum in popular languages and frameworks like Ruby on Rails, Python on Django, JavaScript, and PHP stacks. They are also heavily project based, and require students to immediately put their learnings into practice. Students build fully functional web-apps, do data analysis and use real dev tools just weeks into their programs.

Following intensive coursework, bootcamps train students for their new career in the tech industry. Students 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, 89% of alumni report being employed in programming jobs within 120 days of graduation.

Course Report launched in 2013 with 30 total bootcamp-style programs in our directory. Today, we list over 300! About 90 of those are full-time, in-person, immersive coding bootcamps in the US and Canada. There are bootcamp campuses in over 69 cities throughout the US/Canada. Coding bootcamps are predicted to graduate 18,000 students and gross $200MM in tuition revenue in 2016.


Top 13 Coding Bootcamp FAQs

PREPPING FOR A BOOTCAMP BOOTCAMP APPLICATIONS
1.  Is a bootcamp or college my best option? 8. What should I expect?
2. Can I learn to code on my own? PAYING FOR BOOTCAMP
3. Am I ready? 9. How much should I budget?
NARROWING YOUR OPTIONS 10. How do I pay for this?
4. What type of bootcamp should I attend? JOB PLACEMENT
5. Should I move cities? 11. Will I get a job?
6. Which Programming language should I learn? 12. What can I do with a bootcamp education?
7. Where can I find reviews? 13. Are bootcamps accredited?

 

PREPARING FOR A CODING BOOTCAMP

1. Should I go to a coding bootcamp or go back to college?

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.

FURTHER READING: CHECK OUT OUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO CODING BOOTCAMP VS. COLLEGE, READ THOUGHTS FROM A CS PROFESSOR TURNED CODING BOOTCAMP INSTRUCTOR, AND WATCH OUR CS DEGREES VS. CODING BOOTCAMPS WEBINAR.


2. Can I learn how to code on my own?

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-STUDY VS. CODING BOOTCAMPS, READ BOOTCAMP VS. SELF-STUDY: THE COMPLETE GUIDE.


3. Am I ready for a coding bootcamp?

Coding Bootcamps are intensive programs- while very rewarding, they will be stressful and tiring. Before attending a bootcamp, consider if it’s the right fit for you. The following are skills that schools look for in intensive bootcamp students:

  • 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. Bootcamps want to know their students are committed to doing whatever it takes to succeed for the duration of the bootcamp. But you have to make sure you avoid burnout.
  • Ability to problem solve – An intense curiosity and desire to problem-solve is important as 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 is 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.

If an immersive bootcamp is not an option, consider a part-time bootcamp or online bootcamp.

NEXT STEPS:


NARROWING YOUR OPTIONS

4. What type of bootcamp should I attend?

Top bootcamps' acceptance rates are notoriously low (some between 3-6%), but that doesn't mean that you're not ready to learn to code. Programming 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.

Intensive coding bootcamps – Intensive 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 remain employed during their program.

Online coding bootcamps – More recently, the bootcamp trend has shifted thanks to online coding schools like Bloc, Thinkful, and other popular programs. Students can choose an intensive or part-time course. 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 some comparisons:


5. Where should I attend coding bootcamp?

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. 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 2015 Outcomes & Demographics Report, cities with the highest average salaries remain the large tech hubs with plenty of developer jobs: Palo Alto, San Francisco, Denver, New York City, Chicago and Boulder were among the cities with highest mean and median salaries. States like California, Colorado, New York, Illinois, and North Carolina were among the states with highest mean and median salaries. That's right, bootcamp grads in North Carolina saw an average salary of $61,465!

FURTHER READING: SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO: MOVING TO A NEW CITY VS STAYING LOCAL WHEN CHOOSING A CODING BOOTCAMP.


6. Which programming language should I learn?

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!

If you look at the data, graduates who learned Python report the highest salary after graduation ($80,368) and the most drastic change in salary after graduation (a $33,713 lift). Students who reported learning C# are most likely to be employed as a developer after graduation (71%). 

FURTHER READING:


7. Where can I find coding bootcamp reviews?

Check out Course Report for thousands of coding bootcamp reviews! Our school directory is sorted by number of reviews. You can also find reviews on Quora and Yelp.

If you've graduated from a bootcamp, you should leave a review to help future students make their decision. 


APPLYING TO A CODING BOOTCAMP

8. What can I expect in a coding bootcamp interview? 

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


PAYING FOR BOOTCAMP TUITION

9. How much should I spend on coding bootcamp tuition?

The average full-time programming bootcamp in the US costs $11,450 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.


10. How do I pay for bootcamp?

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 Earnest, Pave, Climb Credit and Lendlayer, 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!

RESOURCES:


JOB PLACEMENT

11. Will I get a job after graduating from a bootcamp? 

  • 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 (see Flatiron Jobs Report), 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.
      • 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

12. Where can I go with my bootcamp education?

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)!

FURTHER READING: 6 JOBS YOU CAN LAND AFTER A CODING BOOTCAMP, AND CHECK OUT THE COURSE REPORT BLOG FOR GREAT ALUMNI STORIES.


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. In early 2014, the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) sent cease & desist letters to many California code schools, later coined a "crackdown." 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 governments, including the White House Office of the CTO and President Obama, who launched the TechHire initiative in March 2015. In conjunction with TechHire, a group of top bootcamps announced the New Economy Skills Training Association (NESTA) to establish best practices, standards, and increase accountability for outcome-based NESTA organizations. Once code schools begin publishing their outcomes through NESTA, this will likely become much more credible than state accreditation.

In October 2015, the Department of Education announced EQUIP (Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships). EQUIP is a US Department of Education initiative that encourages partnerships between universities and alternative education providers (read: bootcamps)! You could read the entire Federal Register or the slightly more condensed fact sheet. Or, spend a minute reading this NYT article + this NPR coverage. What does EQUIP look like? Flatiron School's partnership with Southern New Hampshire University could be an example. So could General Assembly's partnership with Lynn U. We'll keep an eye on this.

FURTHER READING: NESTA: SETTING STANDARDS FOR THE BOOTCAMP INDUSTRY


 

Below is an exhaustive list of coding bootcamps from around the world.

CLICK TO SEE THE BEST-REVIEWED CODING BOOTCAMPS IN EACH CATEGORY


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