Coding bootcamp student writing code on a laptop

A Guide To The Best Coding Bootcamps And How To Choose One

Jaye Hannah

Once upon a time, the words “coding” or “web development” conjured up images of data-obsessed computer geeks. Nowadays, coding is seen as a vital skill and an illustrious career path—pursued by a wide range of people from both creative and non-creative backgrounds. Web developers are now considered an essential asset to pretty much any digital team, and as the field of web development grows, traditional universities have struggled to keep up with the demand. 

Enter coding bootcamps: an alternative educational institution that offers an antidote to the shortage of talented web developers. Coding bootcamps are often touted as being a “fast track” to well-paying web development jobs—and with lower tuition costs, flexible learning, and a practical curriculum, these alternative schools are praised for increasing access to an education in tech. 

But are coding bootcamps really worth it? And with so many bootcamps on offer, how do you go about choosing which one is right for you? In this blog post, we’ll lift the lid on the world of web development bootcamps, and how to tell the good from the mediocre. We’ll start off by looking at the field of web development, before diving into the benefits of a web development bootcamp—and how you can expect life to look upon graduating. 

Here are the topics we’ll cover: 

  1. What is a coding bootcamp?
  2. What will I learn in a coding bootcamp? 
  3. Do coding bootcamps really work?
  4. Do I need relevant experience before enrolling in a coding bootcamp? 
  5. What will my day-to-day look like when studying at a coding bootcamp?
  6. What kind of salary can I expect on completion?
  7. How do I choose the right coding bootcamp for me?
  8. What are the best coding bootcamps?
  9. Round up

Ready? Let’s dive in! 

1. What is a coding bootcamp?

Before we dive into web development bootcamps, let’s first establish what web development actually is. Web development is the process of building websites and applications for the internet using programming languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. While web designers are concerned with the design of a website, web developers focus on the coding and programming that powers the functionality of a website. 

Static web pages, social media platforms, apps, e-commerce websites, content management systems—web developers are responsible for building pretty much everything we regularly engage with on the internet. 

Web development jobs can be broken down into three common categories:

  • Frontend web developers take the visual design as provided by the web designer and build it using coding languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  • Backend web developers build the more advanced functionality of the site, such as the checkout function on an e-commerce site.
  • Full-stack web developers are in charge of all aspects of a website’s functionality, both frontend and backend.

So now we know what web development is, what is a web development (coding) bootcamp? A web development bootcamp is a condensed, immersive education program that aims to take motivated beginners to job-ready graduates in anything from a few months to a year. By focusing on high-impact learning and practical, real-world projects, web development bootcamps fuse fundamental web development theory with the industry skills that would be valuable to current employers. The result? A comprehensive, well-rounded learning experience that will take you from total coding newbie to qualified web developer. 

Bootcamps were created in direct response to the growing demand for talent in disciplines like web and software development—and were met with instant praise. With bootcamps quickly becoming the preferred entryway to a career in tech, they eventually grew to include vocations such as UX/UI design, digital marketing, and data science. Boasting low or even no barriers to entry, coding bootcamps take students who have little proficiency in coding and allow them to focus on the fundamental aspects of coding, teaching them skills that can be immediately applied to solve real-world problems.

When considering a bootcamp, tech-hopefuls have the choice to either study in-person or online. Many online bootcamps are flexible and self-paced, meaning students can fit their studies around a full-time job. Others offer virtual classrooms with fixed lessons that take place over video call or chat. On the other hand, in-person bootcamps take place in a set location, with fixed start dates and class times.

Coding bootcamp student sitting at a computer and writing code

2. What will I learn in a coding bootcamp?

Taking less time than a traditional degree, coding bootcamps focus on equipping you with both the technical skills that can see you walk straight into an entry-level web development position upon completion—alongside the soft skills that will see you slot seamlessly into an already well-established team.  

Let’s take a closer look at some of the hard and soft skills you can expect to learn at a coding bootcamp:

Hard skills

  • No matter what level you’re at, any web developer should have a proficient grasp on at least a few programming languages. Some of the most commonly used languages that you can expect to learn in a coding bootcamp include Ruby on rails, HTML, CSS, Python, and JavaScript. 
  • Collaboration tools such as GitHub are essential for web developers to master early on in their journey, and any good coding bootcamp will equip you with a good grasp on the tools and technologies that developers employ when collaborating on a project. 
  • You’ll also get to grips with servers and hosting, such as Heroku, that will allow you to quickly put a web application live on the internet—as well as common developer databases, like MySQL. 

Soft skills

  • While the nature of web development involves significant amounts of autonomous, independent work, web developers can still expect a sizeable amount of collaboration with stakeholders or the wider team. More in-depth coding bootcamps will emphasize collaboration techniques, and even take you through some useful online tools that will keep you synched with your teammates. 
  • Empathy is a vital skill in web development. Developers should be able to place themselves in the shoes of their colleagues, their clients, or anyone associated with the product. Empathy won’t just help you to collaborate effectively—but also understand the stakeholders and their needs. 
  • Alongside writing code, debugging and fixing errors is a huge part of web development. As a result, the ability to effectively solve problems is paramount to any web development job. A thorough coding bootcamp will take you through how to logically approach problems, and come to a working solution.
  • Finally, communication skills are essential in almost any job profile—and web development is no exception. Developers often need to explain their processes in simple terms that can be understood by employees who are less technologically savvy. They should be able to communicate well, providing as much clarity as possible.

Coding bootcamp student collaborating on a web development task

3. Do coding bootcamps really work?

While we’ve gone through the ins and outs of a coding bootcamp, you might still be wondering: do bootcamps actually work, and are they worth the investment of my hard-earned cash? We might be a little bit biased by simply saying “yes, bootcamps do work!” So to prove our point, let’s dive into the data.  

According to bootcamp comparison site Course Report, respondents of a 2019 research study reported a $22,000 increase in median salary in their first job after attending a coding bootcamp. That’s a salary increase of 51%. 

So, how does a coding bootcamp stack up against a conventional university degree? Most university computer science programs currently on offer take roughly four years, with tuition ringing in at about $163,140. Coding bootcamps, on the other hand, are usually around 14 weeks long, and average $11,874 in tuition. If that wasn’t convincing enough, the average coding bootcamp graduate earns $70,698—a considerable amount more than the average university graduate salary of $59,124 (course report, 2020). 

Our takeaway? If you want a faster, more affordable route into a lucrative career in web development, a coding bootcamp is absolutely worth the investment. 

4. Do I need relevant experience before enrolling in a coding bootcamp?

If you’re interested in becoming a web developer, but you’re worried that your lack of relevant experience or qualifications could hold you back, we’ve got some great news: you don’t need development-related qualifications—or a solid background in tech—to enroll in a web development bootcamp.

All you really need to enroll in a web development bootcamp is a strong interest in web development, and time to dedicate to the course. As previously mentioned, web development bootcamps are designed to take you from total novice to fully qualified web development —so a background in tech is certainly not a prerequisite. If you’ve got the motivation, web development bootcamps have got the means.

Many of the world’s most successful web developers have come from a myriad of diverse backgrounds—from web design to engineering and beyond. The joy of web development bootcamps is that everyone is on a level playing field.

5. What will my day-to-day look like when studying at a coding bootcamp?

It’s a common misconception that coding bootcamps are a “quick fix”—and don’t require as much hard work or dedication as a computer science degree. You might expect that you’ll breeze through the syllabus, skim-reading the course material undetected, and, in the absence of a conventional exam system, emerge as a fully-qualified web developer with minimal input.

While many web development bootcamps offer flexible learning, you can expect to put as much hard work, dedication, and concentration into a coding bootcamp as you would for a traditional degree. Juggling your studies with your schedule (or, in many cases, a full-time job) requires a huge amount of organization and self-discipline. If you’re opting for an online web development bootcamp, you’ll also have to find time for regular Skype check-ins with your mentor, alongside your independent study. You’ll also be expected to immerse yourself in the field of web development through networking and independent projects.

Learn more about a typical day in the life of a web developer in this insightful blog post

A coding bootcamp student organizing their study schedule

6. What kind of salary can I expect on completion?

An increase in salary is one of the most common driving factors behind a career change, so it’s natural to be curious about the kind of money web developers can expect to earn in their first role—as well as what you can expect salary-wise as you progress through your career. After all, in order to assess if web development is truly worth the investment, you need to know that you’ve got a financially secure future ahead.

As with any profession, the average salary of a web developer depends largely on location, as well as experience level. To give you a rough idea of the kind of money you could be earning, we’ve rounded up a global snapshot based on the latest data provided by Indeed, Glassdoor, and CWJobs for the job title “web developer.”

  • Australia: 75,751 AUD ($52,082)
  • Canada: C$60,000 ($48,512)
  • Germany: €48,512 ($52,823)
  • India: Rs 391,044 ($5,508)
  • UK: £31,958 ($41,751)
  • USA: $76,271

Remember, this is only a snapshot! To find out more, this complete guide to web developer salaries dives into specific roles, locations, and level of expertise. 

7. How do I choose the right coding bootcamp for me?

With so many bootcamps on offer, choosing the right one can feel like a minefield. They all have their own unique models and offerings, and a hefty amount of research is required to truly unpack which bootcamp will align with your preferred learning style, your career goals—and of course, your budget. 

The truth is, not all bootcamps are created equal. Picking the right one could mean the difference between finding a job quickly and struggling to get a company to hire you. To help you along the way, here are some points to consider when deciding which bootcamp is right for you.

Think about your schedule

How many hours of study can you realistically commit to learning web development per month? Do you intend to fit your studies around your full-time job, or are you planning on dropping everything to focus on making the switch? If the former is correct, you might be more suited to an online, flexibly paced bootcamp. If the latter rings true, you might be more drawn to an intensive, in-person course. 

Look at the quality of the curriculum 

Is the curriculum curated from outside materials, or is it produced in-house by web development experts? How does the program break down some of the soft and hard skills that we discussed earlier, like coding languages? Is the curriculum up to speed with the latest methods, tools, and software? Unpack each curriculum to ensure it meets your standards. Above all, make sure the course content excites you!

How will the course guarantee you a job in the field?

Does the bootcamp offer in-house career specialists who can support you throughout your job searching process? Do they offer opportunities to broaden your horizons and seek out job opportunities, such as networking events? Will you graduate with a portfolio that you can show to future employers and clients?

Get to know the graduates 

Whether it’s through in-person networking events or via LinkedIn, connecting with current students and alumni and hearing the stories of the people who studied at web development bootcamps will help you to gauge whether it’s right for you. If you can, try to talk to an alumnus who comes from a similar professional or educational background as you. Through them, you’ll get more of an insight into how your own career path might look.

Review the reviews 

Student reviews offer great insights into what it’s like to study with that bootcamp. Bootcamp comparison sites like Course Report are great places to start when it comes to both finding detailed reviews and comparing bootcamps.

Weigh up the investment

Of course, comparing the prices of different web development bootcamps is crucial. Research what programs offer ways to lighten the financial load, such as your money back if you don’t find a job within a set period of time after finishing the course. What other payment options do they offer? Is there a way for you to stagger the cost of tuition? 

Coding bootcamp student looking at code

8. What are the best coding bootcamps?

Now that we’ve explored everything there is to know about coding bootcamps, let’s look at the best bootcamps currently on offer that will get you started on your journey into becoming a web developer. 

Thinkful

Offering online programs in web development, design, and data science, Thinkful students are paired with a mentor to support them one-on-one. Full-stack web development students are guaranteed job placement after graduating from the bootcamp—or tuition will be refunded.

Ironhack

Ironhack offers the chance to learn the fundamentals of HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, and more, either part-time in 24 weeks, or full time in 9 weeks. Scholarships are also available for underrepresented populations and veterans.

CareerFoundry

There are few full-stack web development programs on the market that combine a comprehensive curriculum, personalized mentorship, and project-based learning quite like CareerFoundry. With 96% of our eligible alumni getting a tech job within 180 days of graduation at top companies including Google, Apple, and Amazon, CareerFoundry offers some of the highest quality course content on the scene. You can also take the Intro to Web Development course, and learn the fundamentals of coding. 

To get a taster of what a CareerFoundry program could offer you, why not sign up for a free web development short course. Simply head to the program page, and scroll down to the bottom. 

General Assembly 

General Assembly offers a frontend web development course, where students can learn in-demand coding skills from expert developers in a 10-week part-time course. The courses are both online and in-person, across 15 campuses in 4 continents, with fixed start dates.

Springboard

Springboard offers a range of online, self-paced courses—including the Beginner’s Guide to Front-End Programming. Programs last from 6 to 24 weeks, and Springboard provides a wide range of payment plans. 

Udacity

Udacity offers online courses, including a 16-week frontend web developer bootcamp. More than 30 programs cover such subjects as data science and programming.

Bloc

Bloc offers online programs for beginners in web development and web design. Students can pay tuition in monthly installments, and even get a pro-rated refund if they complete the program in fewer than eight months. Like CareerFoundry and Thinkful, students who don’t land a job after six months also receive a full money-back guarantee.

A coding bootcamp study session

9. Round up

So there we have it: everything you need to know about web development bootcamps. Changing your career is always a risk. But bootcamps provide the ideal environment where you can discover the joys of coding—without the hefty financial burden. 

To learn more about web development, check out these articles over on the blog: 

What You Should Do Now

  1. Get a hands-on introduction to web development with a free, 5-day short course.
  2. Become a qualified web developer in 4-7 months—complete with a job guarantee.
  3. Talk to a program advisor to discuss career change and find out if web development is right for you.
  4. Learn about our graduates, see their portfolio projects, and find out where they’re at now.

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Jaye Hannah

Jaye Hannah

Marketing Copywriter at CareerFoundry

Jaye Hannah is a London native currently living in Berlin. Having studied Cross-Cultural Communications at university, she’s now CareerFoundry’s Editor and loves watching Netflix, attending meet-ups and cooking in her spare time.