Which Coding Bootcamp Is Right for Me: A Guide to Choosing a Bootcamp

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In addition to her work covering bootcamps, technology, and careers for BestColleges, Sharon Wilfong focuses on SaaS, marketing, media production, education, and lifestyle content. She's also an award-winning screenwriter, memoir writer, and poet. ...
Updated on October 17, 2023
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Madison Hoehn has worked as an associate editor for BestColleges, focusing on coding bootcamp rankings and the skilled trades. She is passionate about providing readers with alternatives to a traditional four-year college. She holds a BA in English l...
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  • Coding bootcamps prepare professionals for tech jobs in months instead of years.
  • Choosing a coding bootcamp requires finding one that aligns with your career goals.
  • Some considerations include tuition, your coding background, and career services.
  • It's vital to research the bootcamps' student outcomes before you choose a program.

"The Matrix"did get one thing right — that one day, technology would run the world. Whether you find that terrifying or not, digital tech is everywhere, from GPS navigation and cellphone apps to websites, games, and security. But all that technology also means a growing need for professionals with the skills to develop software, apps, frameworks, and platforms.

Tech companies (as of now) have more open jobs than qualified applicants. To that end, coding bootcamps have emerged, providing a path to make students job-ready in months instead of years.

The best coding bootcamps offer courses in cybersecurity, data analysis, and software development. However, choosing a coding bootcamp requires thinking about the specialization you want to study and the program's format, pacing, and cost.

You can use this guide to determine how to choose a coding bootcamp.

Choosing a Coding Bootcamp Type

Bootcamps come in many formats. If you're wondering which coding bootcamp is right for you, consider the technical disciplines, the class formats, and the learning paces they offer.

Consider the Technical Discipline

Technical disciplines simply refer to the different areas of expertise within the tech industry, such as cybersecurity, UX design, or digital marketing. Knowing what branch of tech you want to learn will help you decide where to start.

Bootcamps generally offer several courses that focus on different technical disciplines. Each one may focus on specific programming languages and frameworks, depending on the program.

For example, front-end web developers typically use coding languages such as HTML and CSS, while back-end developers use languages like Python. So a bootcamp may teach those two disciplines separately or combine them in a full-stack development course.

It's up to you to determine which program provides the right skills to fit your needs the best.

Consider the Format

Bootcamps can be taken in-person, online, or in a hybrid combination of in-person and online classes. It's important to know which course format will work best for you and your lifestyle before enrolling.

In-person classes offer a more traditional experience and face-to-face interaction with instructors and classmates. Online coding bootcamps provide the flexibility to study anywhere there's an internet connection.

Additionally, online classes may be synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous formats have set class times, and asynchronous courses use video class lessons allowing students to study on their own schedules.

Consider the Pace

Whether it's self-paced, part-time, or full-time, attending a bootcamp is a commitment. It's important to know which pace will fit your schedule to ensure you complete the courses.

Self-paced courses can be a good option with their flexibility in scheduling classwork, work, and other obligations. Similarly, part-time classes give students more time for life outside of bootcamp.

However, cost and the time it takes to finish are also considerations. Students complete full-time bootcamps quicker than part-time and self-paced options.

Coding Bootcamps for You

How to Choose a Coding Bootcamp

Remember Your Career Goals

You'll want to consider your previous education and experience when choosing a coding bootcamp. These intensive courses often require some programming language skills.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What technical discipline do I want to pursue?
  • In 1-5 years from now, where do I want to work and what kind of job do I want?
  • What education, interests, and skills do I already have that I can use in my career?
  • What other experience and education will help me move forward?
  • Do I need to take beginner courses before I enroll in a bootcamp?

Goals often differ depending on whether you're starting your career, advancing to another role, or pivoting to another discipline.

Consider the Cost of Tuition

In 2020, BestColleges gathered data from over 620 bootcamps and found the average cost was $13,579. The least expensive bootcamps generally cost a few thousand dollars, while the most

expensive bootcamps charge over $20,000. A handful of bootcamps are free.

We also discovered that web development and UX/UI bootcamps averaged around $12,500. On the other hand, data science and software engineering bootcamps tend to cost a little more, at around $15,000.

However, bootcamps are still less expensive than college. In the 2020-2021 academic year, the cost to attend college full time averaged around $14,000-$28,000 annually, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Assess Your Coding Background

Assess your coding background with a few questions:

  • What do I want to build?
  • Do I have prior experience coding in this area?
  • What programming languages do I know?
  • Will I need supplemental learning to get into a bootcamp?

If you're a beginner, coding apps can help prepare you for an intensive bootcamp. Apps such as Mimo and Enki are excellent ways to build your skills.

A coding app like Codecademy Go provides free beginner-level courses in 14 programming languages, including Python, JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. You'll also find community support and an opportunity to build a coding portfolio.

Read Through the Curriculum

Reading through the curriculum before enrolling ensures you'll know what to expect from bootcamp so you can plan accordingly. For example, you might need to take introductory courses before starting the bootcamp to prepare for the intensive training.

Most bootcamps incorporate group work and hands-on projects for students to use in their professional portfolios. Reading through the curriculum can help you choose a bootcamp that focuses on programming languages that align with your career goals.

Check Out the Career Services

Take the time to check out the career services and speak to someone in the career center to learn more. It's also important to find out how long you'll have access to the bootcamp's career services after graduation.

The best career services provide career counselors and coaches who help with resumes, LinkedIn profiles, portfolios, and interview prep. Career services also often offer career development workshops and additional training to aid students' job searches.

One of the most valuable things to check for is networking opportunities available through career services. Networking may include career fairs, demo days, and introductions to companies looking for skilled professionals.

Research Student Outcomes

Student outcomes give you a good idea about how successful bootcamps are at preparing their graduates for high-paying tech jobs. However, you'll need to know how to navigate coding bootcamp data to do adequate research.

Data gathered about student outcomes typically include:

  • Percentage of students who finished the program
  • Percentage of graduates who found tech jobs in their field
  • The average salary of graduates with tech jobs

While many bootcamps provide job outcomes on their websites, some manipulate the language to make the outcomes seem better. The best coding bootcamps use the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR), a standardized system for reporting student outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Choose a Coding Bootcamp

What is the most respected coding bootcamp?

Fullstack Academy, Flatiron School, and Hack Reactor are a few of the most respected coding bootcamps in 2022. Fullstack Academy provides data analytics, cybersecurity, and software engineering bootcamps.

Students learn full-stack JavaScript and best practices in the tech industry. Check out our ranking of the best coding and programming bootcampsof 2022.

Which is better, coding bootcamp or college?

Choosing a coding bootcamp vs. college is a personal decision. Which is better depends on various factors, from time to finances.

Bootcamps provide an education that can prepare you for work in less time than pursuing a degree. On the other hand, a four-year degree program in computer science takes longer to complete but covers more of the subject.

How do I get a job after a bootcamp?

Start perfecting your resume and writing cover letters before graduation to land a job after bootcamp. The best coding bootcamps provide career services to help with interview prep and negotiating skills.

You'll also want to attend networking events and job fairs and have a portfolio of samples to show prospective employers.

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