So, are coding bootcamps worth it? Will you really get a job? How do employers feel about bootcamp grads? Do people who take a more traditional path have an advantage?
With the 2023 Stack Overflow Developer Survey showing that almost 10% of programmers have taken a coding bootcamp, it’s clear to say they’re increasingly commonplace.
The decision whether to attend one of these can be overwhelming. Before making the time and financial commitment, you want to know if it’s the right decision for you.
That’s where we come in—we’ll go into how to determine if a coding bootcamp is worth investing in, as well as what to look for in a program, what types of bootcamps are out there, and more.
Simply use the clickable menu to jump directly to that section.
- What is a coding bootcamp?
- How to decide are coding bootcamps worth it
- Types of coding bootcamp
- How to make a coding bootcamp worth it
Are you ready to get started? Then let’s jump in!
1. What is a coding bootcamp?
First, let’s go into what a coding bootcamp actually is.
There are many programs calling themselves a coding bootcamp. They vary widely, as there is no legal definition of the term.
There are two-week, vacation-esque bootcamps in the tropics that teach you only HTML/CSS. There are year-long programs with a more 9-5 schedule.
However, most common coding bootcamp formats are intensive, immersive programs that last three or four months. Some are in person, some remote, some with part-time or flexible options.
Structure aside, all coding bootcamps are vocational programs. They teach you on-the-job skills in software engineering, usually focused on web development. While a university degree is longer and contains much more theoretical background, coding bootcamps are about teaching you the skills you need to get a job as a software developer quickly.
Overall across this industry, the facts show that in general coding bootcamps are worth it—a recent Course Report survey of over 3,000 bootcamp grads shows that 79% of them were already employed in a job using these new coding skills they’d learned.
Depending on the bootcamp, you might get training, mentorship, and hiring support as well.
2. How to decide are coding bootcamps worth it
With so many coding bootcamps out there, how do you choose? Not all bootcamps are created equal.
Besides that, different coding bootcamps have varying formats, teaching styles and curriculums. To make the right decision for you, you’ll need to check in with yourself and do some research. What learning styles and formats work best for you? What kind of time and financial commitment can you make? What amount of support do you want?
Let’s dive into some factors to consider when choosing a coding bootcamp.
Learning a new set of skills is a time commitment. Before deciding if a coding bootcamp is worth it, you’ll want to consider how you’ll fit the time into your schedule.
Do you prefer to juggle learning to code while working full-time? Or do you prefer spending a shorter period of time in an intensive program dedicated 100% to coding?
Here it’s worth considering the cost benefit of a coding bootcamp. What kind of developer salary will you be earning in your new field?
This is crucial in terms of your return on investment—how quickly will the bootcamp pay off? With the graduates surveyed by Course Report reporting an average salary increase of 56% ($25,000), that might not be so long.
Coding bootcamps can vary in price widely based on their format and location. Are you willing to take out a loan? Are there scholarships that apply to you? Keep in mind that your salary is likely to be higher once you land a job in the field.
The big question here is in-person, remote, or even hybrid.
Most bootcamps offer some free coding classes as prep. It’s worth taking these once you narrow down your selection as it will give you an idea of your bootcamp’s teaching style. You’ll also need to check in with yourself about your own learning style and what works best for you.
If you’d like to get a sneak-peak at CareerFoundry’s own free 5-day coding short course, here’s our first video lesson:
Are you a visual learner, do videos work best for you to take in information, or are you able to learn a lot through reading materials?
Do you need face-time with a tutor or mentor to ask for questions and advice? Figuring these out will make your chances of thriving at your chosen coding bootcamp a lot higher.
You’re likely considering a bootcamp in order to get a job in the field. You want to make sure the bootcamp you choose is equipped to do that.
Some stats to consider: What percentage of graduates get a job in the field afterwards? What’s the average time it takes a graduate to get a job? Is there a high drop-out rate? What kind of hiring support do they offer to help you navigate developer interviews?
Average salary increase
What’s the average salary for new graduates in their first job after the coding bootcamp? How high is this above the average salary for that location? Is this higher or lower than the market value for the field?
Alumni are a great resource to tell if the coding bootcamp is worth it. Likely the bootcamp itself can connect you with some alumni. It’s also worth utilizing LinkedIn here to get an unbiased opinion.
Once you’re very serious and have narrowed it down to one or two bootcamps, reach out to some alumni and ask them about their experience. Would they recommend the program? How did they find the job search?
3. Types of coding bootcamps
Now that you know which factors to look for to see if coding bootcamps are worth it, let’s take a look at the different varieties of offering out there. There are three main ways to separate the types of training out there, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Online coding bootcamps
Online coding bootcamps are digital training programs that prepare you for a career as a web developer. They tend to be intensive and take place over several months, longer if the program is part-time.
Attending a coding bootcamp online is often the quickest and most accessible option. You can attend from anywhere and don’t need to live near the program. For those with jobs and/or family commitments, they can be an excellent option.
There are synchronous and asynchronous online coding bootcamps. In a synchronous program, everyone attends class and learns at the same time. Asynchronous programs allow you to work your way through the program at your own pace. If you attend a synchronous program, you’ll want to keep time zones in mind to make sure the hours work for you.
Support is a big factor to consider when deciding if an online coding bootcamp is worth it. What kind of support does the bootcamp offer you when you get stuck? Is there a community to turn to? Will you have a tutor and any sort of 1:1 support? What about hiring support and career guidance after the program?
If you’re looking to look at some options, we’ve compiled a guide to some of the best online coding bootcamps.
Free coding bootcamps
If budget is a big factor, then a free coding bootcamp or teaching yourself via online courses is a good option. The upside to this is, obviously, the cost. You can also go at your own pace and test if it’s for you.
If you’re wondering are free coding bootcamps worth it, and the monetary investment is zero, you need to look at other finite resources. Are they worth the time?
The downside of online programs is similar to the upside…you can go at your own pace. Without structure and deadlines, it’s easier to fall off the wagon. When you get stuck, you’ll need to seek out somewhere to turn to find a solution. With some resourcefulness, dedication and self-discipline though, it’s a great option.
Here are seven of the best free online coding courses if you’d like to look into this further.
Bootcamps with a certification
Coding bootcamps are not accredited like universities, though some offer certifications at the end.
What does this certification mean? In some countries, it might mean the program meets their rules for qualifying as a valid vocational training. In other cases, it might just mean you get a certificate at the end, proving you finished the program.
What exactly this certification means is worth looking into. Each provider will come up with their own criteria for certification. It does mean there is a standard to finish the program, however. If the bootcamp has a good reputation, this can be a benefit, making these kinds of coding bootcamps worth it.
To get you started finding some, check out this list of the best web development certification programs.
4. How to make a coding bootcamp worth it
By its very nature, this type of education is generally quite intensive and fast-paced. Students need to be ready to study hard and absorb a lot of information in a short period of time.
As a result of this, to make coding bootcamps worth it, it’s important to develop coping mechanisms for dealing with technical problems you may have no idea how to solve at first. Asking for help and seeking out resources is integral. Ideally you have a community of fellow learners and mentors behind you for support.
If you tend to freeze and shut down when faced with unknown situations, you may want to work on this before enrolling in a coding bootcamp. If you feel ready to take on new challenges and learn new things, a coding bootcamp might be right for you.
In the end, you need to throw yourself into the experience and learn as much as you can to make the learning experience valuable and worthwhile.
Another key way to make a coding bootcamp worth it, is to make sure to engage with people. If the program comes with a tutor, great! Ask them all kinds of questions when you get the opportunity. If it comes with a mentor, even better! Make sure to make your time with them count, and get as many insights as possible from them about working professionally as a coder.
Hopefully by now you have an idea of what factors to consider when deciding are coding bootcamps worth it or not. The answer is, it depends on you.
Coding bootcamps can be a great option to jumpstart you into a new field, give you community, a network, and guide you along a structured program.
Not all coding bootcamps are alike, though. It’s important to do your research into areas like cost, teaching style, job placement rate, average salary and alumni ratings before making a decision.
CareerFoundry’s Full-Stack Web Development Program, is designed to be longer, more flexible, and more thorough than a regular coding bootcamp. Students benefit from 1:1 tutoring and regular check-ins with their mentor, a seasoned programmer who will show them the ropes. As you approach graduation, tailored career-coaching will have you prepared for entering the job market with a polished portfolio.
If you’d like to read more about the world of coding, check out these articles: