The fastest way to learn how to code may be through a coding bootcamp. They’re intensive, short-term training programs in web and mobile development, design or security.
“We see tremendous successes,” says Mark Smith, managing director of Coding Dojo, a bootcamp with online and on-site campuses around the country. “We can take [people] from zero to a developer in 3 1/2 months, if they’re willing to put in the effort.”
Developers — one of several kinds of jobs that coding bootcamp grads seek — design and build websites and apps.
Coding bootcamps, similar to many trade schools, are typically run by private, for-profit companies and are offered both in-person or online, depending on the program. Some popular coding bootcamps include General Assembly, Flatiron School, App Academy and Bloc. These are not accredited colleges or trade schools, so they are not eligible for Title IV funding by the federal government or federal student aid.
Though they’re not traditional postsecondary programs, they’re gaining in popularity: Coding bootcamps graduated an estimated 23,000 students in 2019, according to market research by Course Report, a coding bootcamp review site. Its current count: 95 in-person bootcamp providers and 13 online bootcamps across 44 states.
Here’s more information to help you decide if coding bootcamp is right for you.
How long do coding bootcamps take to complete?
The typical coding bootcamp takes less than four months to complete — 15.1 weeks on average, according to Course Report’s research.
Completion rates vary by program, but are generally high. Zip Code Wilmington, a coding bootcamp in Wilmington, Delaware, reports a 93% graduation rate, with 88% of its graduates accepting paid job offers within three months of graduating.
At Coding Dojo, completion rates hover around 90%, Smith says. “We put a lot of qualifiers in the application process so we make sure we’re getting people who are going to have a successful outcome,” he says.
What are job prospects like for coding bootcamp grads?
More than 80% of bootcamp graduates say they’re employed in a job requiring the skills they learned at bootcamp, according to a 2019 survey of coding bootcamp alumni outcomes by Course Report. The median starting salary for those who graduated from a bootcamp was $66,964, which is $22,000 increase.
Job prospects are expected to grow at a faster than usual pace through 2029 among some of the biggest and highest-paying positions that coders enter, according to data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the bureau also indicates most of these jobs require bachelor’s degrees, so a coding bootcamp certification might not be enough to snag a job or earn top salaries.
Web developer jobs, which are generally accessible for coding bootcamp graduates, should see 8% job growth. Median salary in 2019 was $73,760.
Information security analysts plan and execute security measures to protect networks and systems for companies. Job growth is expected to be 31% with a 2019 median salary of $99,730 annually.
Software developers design and create computer programs. Jobs are expected to rise 22%; the 2019 median salary was $107,510 per year.
Computer and information systems managers, aka IT managers, direct everything technology-related for a company. These jobs are expected to grow 10%; median job salary in 2019 was $146,360.
How much do coding bootcamps cost?
Coding bootcamp costs vary by location and whether you attend in person or online. The average tuition for courses is $13,728, according to Course Report.
You can pay for a coding bootcamps in multiple ways:
How do I choose a coding bootcamp?
There are many reputable bootcamps available, but like for-profit colleges, there are some bad actors.
These short-term schools all advertise in the same way, promising students jobs right after graduation. They all tout high job placement rates, but the accuracy of these claims isn’t always verifiable, according to a 2019 report analyzing the coding bootcamp industry by RTI International, a nonprofit research and technical institute.
That’s because bootcamps are private companies, not accredited schools. It means they’re not subject to oversight by the government like traditional colleges are. To that end, many job placement claims made by bootcamps are unaudited, which means the numbers are not verified by a third party.
One of the appeals of coding bootcamps is how quick they are. But a short-term bootcamp might not be worth it if it doesn't prepare you for jobs that require mastery of certain coding languages or deep expertise in design.
Prospective students should do their research. Start with the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting, a nonprofit that tracks graduation and job outcomes among coding bootcamps. It doesn’t include every bootcamp, but you’ll see some bigger names there. You can also read online reviews; reach out to alumni via LinkedIn and ask for feedback; and search for any news stories about the bootcamps.
Bootcamps are, in some ways, a jumping-off point to a new career. But your outcome depends on your drive and grasp of the material. As Smith says, successful grads are “willing to put in the effort.”