Bootcamp Types: The Ultimate Guide to Comparing Coding Bootcamps
What Is a Coding Bootcamp?
Duration: Bootcamps typically last a few months, with part-time or full-time enrollment options available.
Cost: Bootcamps often cost less than a degree program, and offer a variety of flexible payment options for students. Payment options for bootcamps frequently include income share agreements and deferred tuition plans that require payment only when a graduate finds a job.
Location: Students can choose bootcamp programs offered online or in cities across the United States.
Because technology continues to evolve, bootcamps also attract computer programmers looking to learn new skills. These students already have work experience in their field and use bootcamps for professional development purposes.
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Whether you're working behind the scenes, managing the project, or designing for the user, a coding bootcamp can help you build additional skills to grow your career.
Bootcamp Learning Formats
Most coding bootcamps use an intensive instructional model. You have options in how you receive that instruction, however. Primary differences in programs include where they are offered and the required time commitment per week.
Online programs may feature part-time, full-time, self-paced, or accelerated options.
In-person programs offer face-to-face instruction and interaction with classmates. With this format, teams can easily collaborate on projects and instructors are available to answer questions in real time.
Hybrid bootcamps combine the flexibility of online learning with the interpersonal benefits of in-person instruction. Hybrid programs can also expand the accessibility of in-person learning for students balancing work and family obligations with their education.
Full-time coding bootcamps require a significant time commitment each week. Some full-time bootcamps estimate that students spend 40-60 hours per week dedicated to the bootcamp. This time estimate includes both instructional time and time spent on assignments. Because of the time commitment, full-time programs may require leaving employment for the duration of the program.
Part-time coding bootcamps take longer to complete than a full-time option, but can provide students greater flexibility. These programs require 15-20 hours of instruction and study each week. Often, learners can continue their employment while participating in the bootcamp.
Both independent providers and university-affiliated bootcamps typically offer a mix of full-time and part-time bootcamps.
In a self-paced bootcamp, students progress as quickly or as slowly as they want while mastering their program’s core concepts. Self-paced options are almost always conducted online, but students still interact with instructors or course mentors through things like virtual office hours.
This format supplies the most flexibility for learners, though they need good time management and organizational skills to stay on track. The student’s pace determines the time commitment and length for these programs, which can span from a few weeks to several months.
Programming Languages and Frameworks
Whether you're writing a program or running statistical analyses, learning to code can be a benefit in many industries — not just in the tech field.
Coding by the Numbers
coding languages in existence
general categories of programming languages
Average annual salary for computer programmers, as of May 2022
Additional Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Find a Bootcamp Near You
If an in-person bootcamp is right for you, then our city-by-city guides can help you find the best option for your career goals.
Full-time, comprehensive coding bootcamps required an average of 16.5 weeks in 2017 — or about four months. Part-time programs averaged 24.3 weeks, or almost six months. Shorter, specific courses can vary from a few weeks to more than four months.
If you need to learn basic coding or brush up on just a few skills, consider taking free online courses or a short-term bootcamp course before investing months on an intensive career preparation bootcamp.
Ways to Pay for Coding Bootcamps
Coding bootcamps offer a variety of payment options, so be sure to examine the pros and cons of each carefully before making a decision that’s right for you.
- Upfront: Paying tuition upfront allows you to avoid paying interest that might accrue on a loan or deferred payment plan. Some bootcamps do provide interest-free financing options, and students may be eligible for discounted tuition rates if they pay upfront.
- Payment Plan: Most bootcamps offer payment plans that allow students to pay monthly installments throughout their time in the program. You may pay in equal installments or pay a higher deposit followed by smaller monthly payments. Payment plans often do not require you to pay interest, but confirm this with the bootcamp provider.
- Deferred Tuition: With a deferred tuition plan, students either pay a small deposit at the beginning of their bootcamp or they are not required to pay anything upfront. Once the student finds a job in the tech industry, they pay the remaining tuition amount in fixed installments.
- Income Share Agreement: Income share agreements (ISAs) are similar to deferred tuition, allowing students to pay for their bootcamp with their future earnings. However, instead of paying a fixed tuition amount in installments, bootcamp graduates pay a percentage of their salary for a set amount of time.
- Financial Aid: Be sure to explore your scholarship eligibility. Note: Bootcamps do not qualify for Pell Grants or traditional student loans. However, some programs may qualify under the GI Bill Ⓡ for veterans education and career training.
- Tuition Reimbursement: If you already work in a tech field, your employer may provide some tuition reimbursement.
- Personal Loans: Students can also seek personal loans to finance their training. These loans often come with a shorter repayment period and higher interest rates than a traditional student loan.
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How Much Do Coding Bootcamps Cost?
The chart below provides the average costs of coding bootcamps based on data collected by BestColleges from over 620 bootcamp programs offered by about 130 bootcamp providers.
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The Best Online Coding Bootcamps of 2023: A Complete Guide
How to choose a provider
Independent coding bootcamp providers include for-profit and nonprofit educational providers, although for-profit providers are more common. Independent providers offer both intensive bootcamps designed to deliver in-depth career training and shorter, more specialized bootcamps that operate more like a traditional course. Most bootcamps are offered through independent providers.
Most independent bootcamp providers are not federally regulated, as they do not go through the same accreditation process that most colleges and universities go through. This has led to concerns about instructional quality, graduation rates, and employment outcomes in the bootcamp industry. Some independent bootcamp providers have joined the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR), which has created standards for transparent reporting of bootcamp outcomes such as job placement rates of graduates.
In addition to independent providers, some colleges and universities also offer coding bootcamps. While there are much fewer of these providers than independent organizations, a growing number of colleges and universities have launched coding bootcamps.
Graduates of university-affiliated coding bootcamps obtain a certificate of completion, but typically do not earn college credit for their bootcamp work. University-affiliated bootcamps also do not qualify for federal financial aid programs, but offer a variety of payment options for students.
How to Choose a Coding Bootcamp
Choose your coding bootcamp carefully. Coding bootcamps lack accreditation and few states regulate how they report student outcomes, which means much of the information students find when comparing different bootcamps comes directly from the provider. Check to see whether a bootcamp you are interested in is a member of CIRR. If they are, you can find audited data on things like bootcamp graduation rates, employment outcomes, and starting salaries for bootcamp graduates.
You can also follow these tips when searching for a program:
Talk to graduates of the bootcamp to learn about their experience and the job placement services they received while in the program and after they graduated.
Look at the curriculum to make sure it matches your needs. If you already know several programming languages and software frameworks, you won’t want to spend much time focused on those topics. Find a program that emphasizes the area you plan to specialize in.
Ask for details about the course format. If a program provides online learning options, are there specific times when you will need to be online? How do students collaborate on projects? Do you receive regular feedback from the instructor, and are they available to answer questions?
Do you meet the admission criteria? While many coding bootcamps offer open admission, some do require basic coding skills or other prerequisites. Some full-time programs may use competitive admissions processes.
Frequently Asked Questions About Coding Bootcamps
Is coding hard?
Computer coding requires certain skills and knowledge. With proper training, a strong work ethic, and a passion for the field, you can master the skills necessary to become a programmer. These include basic math skills, as well as strong problem-solving and critical thinking abilities.
Are there free coding bootcamps?
Coding bootcamp fellowships often do not charge fees, and some fellowships may even provide a stipend. These programs, however, cater to students completing a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in computer science. It is possible to find free coding courses, which are usually shorter and more focused than an intensive bootcamp. These types of short courses are typically insufficient to prepare a beginner for a coding career, though taking a course like this can be a great way to gauge your level of interest in particular technical disciplines or programming languages.
Can I get university credit for bootcamps?
Most coding bootcamps, even those offered by universities, do not meet the standards required to issue college credit. There are a few exceptions. Be sure to do your homework first if earning college credit is a priority for you.
Are bootcamps accredited?
Most coding bootcamps do not hold accreditation from an outside accrediting agency. Some providers say accreditation requirements could slow down their ability to adapt to the changing needs of the industry or new developments in technology. However, some bootcamps are members of the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting, which provides standards for reporting bootcamp outcomes and audits the outcome data received from members.
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Editor’s Note: This article contains general information and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a professional advisor before making decisions about financial issues.