Top 10 Myths About Coding Bootcamps

Trying to decide if a coding bootcamp is right for you? We debunked these 10 myths to help you get the information you need.
10 min read

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  • There are a lot of misconceptions about coding bootcamps that can deter people from enrolling.
  • When deciding on a coding bootcamp, your unique needs and goals are the most important factors.
  • Because of the wide variety of bootcamps, there are probably several that meet your needs.

You might have heard a colleague, family member, or friend mention they're attending a coding bootcamp and thought to yourself, is it worth it? If you have some doubts about if coding bootcamps can land you a job or are considered "valid" by employers, you're not the only one.

There are several misconceptions about coding bootcamps.

These intensive programs are becoming a more common way to improve career prospects or change professional paths. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs in computer and information technology will grow 13% between 2020 and 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

According to the BLS, workers in this sector made a median annual wage of $91,250 in May 2020. In comparison, the overall median wage in the U.S. was $41,950 during the same period.

Both new and seasoned professionals can make the transition to a career in tech through coding bootcamps. Read on as we debunk the most prevalent coding bootcamp myths.

Find the Right Coding Bootcamp For You

Myths About Coding Bootcamps

Coding bootcamps are relatively new educational pathways, with the first U.S. bootcamp launching in 2011. As the programs become more popular, misinformation about bootcamps' quality, cost, and effectiveness has also increased.

If you're curious about coding bootcamps but are still unsure if they're right for you, you've come to the right place. We will analyze some common misconceptions and offer additional resources to help you decide if a coding bootcamp is right for you.

1. Coding Bootcamps Can't Get You a Job

Coding bootcamps are highly aware their students are looking to enhance or change their careers. Most bootcamps offer career services in the form of a dedicated advisor or mentor. This person will work with students on anything from resume reviews, mock interviews, and counteroffer emails. For example, Coding Dojo lists all three of these services directly on its website.

Many bootcamps are so confident in their methodology and job placement services they guarantee tuition refunds if you do not get hired within a certain timeframe. Thinkful, a popular coding bootcamp with a variety of courses, offers a full tuition refund if you don't receive a job offer within 180 days of completing one of their courses. There are important qualifying details outlined on their site. Several other schools offer similar money-back guarantees.

Of course, job placement success varies between bootcamp providers. For example, Flatiron School boasts that 78% of their graduates had accepted a job within 180 days after their program ended. Tech Elevator reported a 94.1% employment rate in 2020.

We recommend you research a provider's outcomes before enrolling, but you're most likely in good hands if a bootcamp offers career services.

2. Employers Don't Think Coding Bootcamps Are Legit

Evidence shows us that employers do hire bootcamp graduates, especially for entry-level positions. Many coding bootcamps even have a section on their website featuring companies where their alumni are employed. As bootcamps continue to gain credibility, employers are more and more inclined to see them as a legitimate educational pathway.

According to LinkedIn, companies like Amazon, NerdWallet, and Sony Pictures hire bootcamp graduates. However, organizations outside of the tech industry hire them, too. Deloitte, The Home Depot, and PNC Bank have a history of accepting bootcamp applicants.

Although you probably won't be hired as a chief technology officer straight out of a bootcamp, previous work experience or a college degree in addition to bootcamp credentials may give you more opportunities. Many graduates enroll in bootcamps to move up at their current company or change careers.

3. You Have to Have Coding Experience Beforehand

Although this is a prominent myth, many bootcamps were created with the exact opposite idea in mind. Bootcamps like Thinkful are designed to make high-paying jobs accessible to a wider demographic, especially coding beginners.

The majority of coding bootcamps do not require previous tech experience. However, some bootcamps may require "pre-work" before you begin your bootcamp to help prepare you for the course. Similarly, some providers offer prep programs — short, sometimes free courses that give students an introduction to the bootcamp experience.

There are several bootcamps that don't require prerequisites or ask applicants to participate in technical interviews. You can typically find that information on a bootcamp's admissions page or in the FAQ section of their website.

In addition to Thinkful, Flatiron School and General Assembly also accept students with no prior coding experience.

4. You Can't Test-Run a Coding Bootcamp

This myth is not entirely true. Some bootcamps offer their own prep programs. Bootcamp prep programs are a great way to get a feel for the subject matter and the overall bootcamp experience.

If you're concerned that a bootcamp may be too intense for you, know that these courses are designed with you in mind. They may also give you an advantage in applying to the full-time bootcamp after completion.

There are two caveats to remember when considering a bootcamp prep program. First, not all bootcamps offer them. Second, prep programs may not always mimic the true pace and environment of a bootcamp. Students may participate in a prep program offered by a different provider than the bootcamp they intend to apply to.

Full-time bootcamps have notoriously long and rigorous days and often include team or pair coding sessions. It's important to remember that prep programs may not be an exact representation of a full-time bootcamp experience.

A lot of great bootcamps offer free prep programs, including Fullstack Academy, Hack Reactor, and App Academy.

5. You Can't Work While Enrolled in a Bootcamp

This myth is similar to saying you can't go to college and work. Of course you can! Not all bootcamps offer full-time formats; many provide part-time or self-paced courses too.

Self-paced bootcamps teach the same curriculum as any other bootcamp, but they allow students to complete the course on their own time. This may be desirable for students with children, at-home responsibilities, or a full-time job. Some providers of these flexible courses include Springboard, CareerFoundry, and Coding Temple.

If you want more structure in your bootcamp but need to continue to work, a part-time format is preferable. These programs usually meet only a few times per week or even on weekends. Part-time programs offer more flexibility than full-time courses but more direct instruction and group work than self-paced bootcamps.

6. Coding Bootcamps Are All Expensive

Like any product or service, prices for coding bootcamps vary. There are a number of factors that influence bootcamp prices, such as subject material, career support, in-person campuses, and more. One thing all bootcamps have in common is that they are less expensive than obtaining a four-year degree.

BestColleges' research shows that the median price for bootcamps is $13,500. Keep in mind that when you complete a coding bootcamp you have the potential to make two times the national average income. However, if you're not ready or able to finance $13,500 or more for a coding bootcamp, there are still options.

Many providers, such as Springboard and Nashville Software School, offer unique payment plans for their students. Numerous bootcamp companies offer deferred tuition plans, income share agreements, and money-back guarantees. These may allow students to enroll in a more expensive bootcamp without taking out loans.

Still concerned about bootcamp cost? Don't worry — there are cheap and even free coding bootcamps too. Free bootcamps are offered by Codecademy, freeCodeCamp, Techtonica, and more. If you need more options, many coding bootcamps are less than the $13,500 average, as well.

7. You Can Only Learn Online

As the number of bootcamps has increased, the variety and style of these programs has also grown. While the majority of bootcamps are offered online (and almost all went online during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic), there are in-person and hybrid options in some major cities. Some of these cities include Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle.

Even if you're not located within these major tech hubs, don't fret. Many universities now offer coding bootcamps, so you may want to inquire with your local major university about in-person bootcamp opportunities.

As the world continues to bounce back from the pandemic, many bootcamps offer hybrid options, allowing students the benefit of hands-on learning with the flexibility of learning from home.

8. Bootcamps Are Only Useful in the Tech Industry

Bootcamps are used, more often than not, for people looking to change careers. The reasons for these career changes are endless. Some people are looking for better pay; others are looking for a new challenge or more job flexibility. No matter the reason for your interest in a bootcamp, you don't have to work in the tech industry to benefit from a course.

These intensive programs are also useful for people looking to grow within their existing companies or industries. Dozens of organizations outside of the tech field hire bootcamp grads. Completing a bootcamp may allow you to stay in your current field but increase your salary or diversify your career options at your current company.

Zach Hendrix, a graduate of Nashville Software School, worked in lawn care but enrolled in the bootcamp to enhance his own company's website. Now he runs the GreenPal website and has full control over the back-end development and maintenance.

9. Coding Bootcamps Are Only for Men

While men historically and currently dominate the tech industry, there is no reason for it to stay that way. There are numerous organizations, affiliate groups, and scholarships working to support women and historically excluded folks who are looking to enter the tech field.

As a pipeline directly into tech jobs, some coding bootcamps are focusing on correcting the gender disparity in the field. Some offer scholarships or funding for minorities, veterans, or women. Others focus on serving underrepresented groups in tech.

Some coding bootcamps looking to increase diversity in tech include The Grace Hopper Program, Hackbright Academy, and the Ada Developers Academy.

10. Coding Bootcamps Aren't Worth It

We suggest you reframe this myth as a question: Is a coding bootcamp worth it for me? Any educational or career decision is highly personal, and your coding bootcamp experience should fit your needs. Always keep in mind that someone else's coding bootcamp experience may not be the same as your own.

Potential bootcamp applicants are typically most concerned about the cost and intense time commitment that these programs may require. Additionally, full-time bootcamps can be a dealbreaker for folks without a financial safety net.

As we've discussed previously, all of these concerns have possible solutions, and all of the most common myths do not usually ring true. Bootcamps range in price and intensity and can be completed on a self-paced basis. Employers are hiring more and more bootcamp graduates, and current tech workers are changing their careers. It all depends on which option you choose.

We recommend that you continue to do your own research about any bootcamp providers you may be interested in and possibly take a prep program.

Frequently Asked Questions About Coding Bootcamps

Why aren't bootcamps accredited?

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The better question is: When will coding bootcamps become accredited? Bootcamps are still a young industry in the U.S., with the first one founded in 2011. Accreditation is a long and bureaucratic process. Because bootcamps are a new field, it may take time for agencies to establish standards and practices for bootcamp accreditation.

However, two bootcamps were recently accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training. We expect that more will follow in the coming years.

Can you fail at a coding bootcamp?

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Your success or failure at a bootcamp is largely up to you. These programs use the name "bootcamp" because they are often rigorous programs. However, the life skills and training you receive will undoubtedly help your future career.

It's important that you do your research about different bootcamps to get a sense of the experience and rigor beforehand. It's also important that you reflect on your time, interest, and commitment before signing up. To get started, check out our guide to coding bootcamps.

Are coding bootcamps better than degree programs?

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If you're looking to change careers or move into a tech field, a bootcamp might be a better fit than a master's program in computer science. Bootcamps focus on real-world tools and skills, while a traditional degree is more theoretical and covers broader topics. Bootcamps are also generally less expensive and have a shorter duration.

If you have just graduated from high school, a bootcamp might not be the best choice. While you can learn useful skills, you might not be fully prepared to enter the workforce and manage the demands of a high-paced work environment. Gaining some experience alongside taking a bootcamp may be more useful.

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