What are coding bootcamps, and how do I choose one?

Coding bootcamps are an intensive alternative to conventional schooling that teach programming fundamentals in just weeks.

Modern industries depend on technology, which makes coding a valuable tool. If you have a good head for logic, language, and technologies, you might be a good candidate for a coding bootcamp. Completing a coding bootcamp can land you an entry-level tech job in almost any industry — not just tech fields.

Read on for our guide on what to expect from coding bootcamps, how they work, and how to choose the right one for you.

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What is a coding bootcamp?

A coding bootcamp is an accelerated training program for teaching programming languages, data science, data analytics, and other topics fundamental to web, software, and mobile app development.

Some bootcamps are more general, while others emphasize specific aspects of coding, individual languages, and practical applications.

While you do not earn a degree, completing a bootcamp gives you the opportunity to build a portfolio. Some may prep you to earn widely recognized computer science certifications, which look great on your resume.

Most coding bootcamps take 10-20 weeks to complete at a full or part-time pace. Providers usually offer a choice between online, in-person, or hybrid learning, but some exclusively focus on online programs.

Courses are fast-paced and emphasize hands-on projects. Courses often taught in coding bootcamps include:

  • Python fundamentals

  • Java fundamentals

  • Intro to data analytics

  • Intro to web development

  • Intro to full-stack development

However, each program is unique in its focus and course offerings.

The best coding bootcamps will also provide career placement services for graduates.

How much will a coding bootcamp cost?

Coding bootcamps can run the gamut in price from a few thousand dollars to around $30,000.

Don’t exceed your budget. There are reputable providers at every price bracket, and many even offer scholarships and recognize veterans benefits. Most offer a discount for paying your full tuition upfront.

Is a coding bootcamp right for me?

Coding bootcamps can help people of all experience levels switch careers, retrain, or learn new skills. Coding bootcamp learners may be novices interested in a programming career or established software engineers or developers looking to expand their skills.

But coding bootcamps aren’t the right fit for everyone. Below, you’ll find some pros and cons of the educational model.

Pros

  • Shorter and less costly than a degree

  • Job placement services and money back guarantees usually offered

  • Focuses on coding fundamentals

  • Opportunity to learn a new specialization/language

Cons

  • Lack accreditation, unlike college

  • High price tag for tuition

  • Full-time coding bootcamps can be grueling

  • Inconsistent real-life job preparation

  • Inconsistent job placement data

How to choose a coding bootcamp

Take time to weigh your options before choosing a bootcamp. Many students factor in curriculum, format, cost, location, pace, job placement services, and job placement statistics for graduates.

Different coding roles require different programming languages and skillsets. For example, if you want to specialize in mobile app development, you probably don’t want to attend a bootcamp that focuses on C++.

Because bootcamp curricula vary, make sure to compare what you’ll learn in each program you’re considering with what you’ll need to know for your career goals.

Evaluate your current skills, too. Bootcamps vary in terms of difficulty and intensity. More intensive bootcamps cater to intermediate programming learners.

Format is another big factor. Self-paced online bootcamps allow you to complete lessons and activities on your own schedule, ideal for people with busy personal and professional lives.

If you need more structure, an online format with a formal outline might meet your needs. Or you may prefer the classroom setting provided by In-person coding bootcamps.

Alongside flexibility and availability, you should consider what type of learning suits you. Online bootcamps may appeal to learners who prefer solitary education environments, while in-person bootcamps benefit physical and interpersonal learners.

The coding bootcamp application process

Most coding bootcamps do not require specific prior experience or education for admission.

However, many expect applicants to be computer-savvy and have a basic understanding of coding principles. Make sure to highlight those skills in the short essay often required as part of your application.

After submitting your application (which usually does not require an application fee, unlike college), you will typically need to complete a phone or in-person interview.

Some providers offer paid prep courses for applicants. Others require applicants to complete a free introductory course before their interview.

The interviewer may ask about your prior experience with coding, your career goals, and why you’re interested in the program.

During your interview, the interviewer may even set a “coding challenge” for you to solve. Other bootcamps, such as Flatiron School, have an admissions assessment test that evaluates attention to detail and your ability to problem-solve and learn new information.

Don’t give up if you’re rejected. You can study and try again later. The coding bootcamp may even send you prep materials for next time.

Can coding bootcamps get you a job?

Yes. A coding bootcamp is sufficient preparation for an entry-level coding job as a web or mobile app developer. Some bootcamp providers may even reimburse your tuition if you cannot find a job within a certain timeframe.

Are coding bootcamps good for beginners?

Yes. Many coding bootcamps require no coding experience whatsoever from applicants. One of coding bootcamps’ strengths is their ability to teach coding fundamentals to novices.

Do employers like coding bootcamps?

Employers generally see completing a coding bootcamp as a sign of drive and willingness to try learning new skills. A coding bootcamp is a plus on your resume.

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