Coding bootcamps are short, intensive education programs designed to help people learn to code and prepare for a specific career in technology. Over the last decade, coding bootcamps have become a popular way to break into a career in tech. More than 20,000 people were expected to graduate from a bootcamp in 2019 alone.
Bootcamps teach subjects ranging from full-stack web development to digital marketing and equip people with the practical knowledge they need to thrive in the modern labor market. Toward the end of a bootcamp, students receive career guidance covering everything from writing resumes to searching for a job. This improves job prospects after graduating.
But how do you choose a coding bootcamp when there are hundreds of options, each with their own learning style and offerings?
Let’s break down the top factors you should consider when deciding which coding bootcamp you’ll attend in 2020.
1. Read the Student Outcomes
After deciding what type of bootcamp you want to attend—either an in-person or online bootcamp—research the bootcamp’s outcomes and job placement statistics. Are their job statistics audited independently? Do they publish outcomes publicly? Are they part of the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR): the industry’s outcomes disclosure body founded by over a dozen bootcamps?
Look for transparency in outcomes and ask the bootcamp if their statistics are reviewed by a third-party. This will help you learn more about what to expect from the bootcamp.
2. Read Student Reviews
Aside from researching the bootcamp’s employment statistics, reading student reviews is perhaps the best way to evaluate a bootcamp. Student reviews will give you insight into the experiences of current and former students at a bootcamp. This will help you learn about the day-to-day life of being a student at a particular bootcamp and may reveal some facts you should know before you participate in a particular bootcamp.
You can also get honest reviews by reaching out to former students. Look for alumni of bootcamps on Twitter and ask them if they’d be willing to answer a few questions about their education. Did they derive value from the bootcamp? Did it improve their career prospects? If they had to, would they participate in the bootcamp again?
3. Get to Know the Faculty
Coding bootcamps are a massive commitment, both in terms of time and money. You shouldn’t enroll in a bootcamp without first talking with a student, instructor, or employee. Any bootcamp should be happy to connect you with someone you can talk to.
Reach out to the bootcamps you are interested in and ask if you can talk to their teachers. This will give you the ability to learn about a bootcamp from the perspective of teachers and will allow you to ask any questions you may have.
4. Does the Bootcamp Offer a Job Guarantee?
A large number of coding bootcamps now offer job guarantees to their students. These guarantees come in various forms but typically involve a student getting a refund if they don’t land a job after graduation, or paying their tuition only if they get a job that pays over a certain amount.
Often, bootcamps offer Income Share Agreements (ISAs) or deferred tuition options. Through a deferred tuition agreement, you’ll only pay after you graduate and have found a job. With an ISA, you’ll pay a percentage—typically between 10 and 20 percent—of your post-graduation income to the school, only if you find a job that pays over a certain amount.
For example, if you enroll in Lambda School, you’ll pay 17 percent of your income for two years after you graduate only if you earn over $50,000 per year. Other schools have similar deferred tuition guarantees.
These guarantees give schools financial skin in the game. If you don’t succeed, they don’t collect anything. Since bootcamps are expensive, it’s often good to know that you’ll only pay if you are successful. The words you’ll want to look for are: “job guarantee,” “deferred tuition,” and “income share agreement.” These options all work very differently, though, so make sure you evaluate each one independently.
Remember, you should read the fine print on any job guarantee or refund agreement so you know the terms before you enroll in the school.
5. What Skills Do You Need to Know?
When you’re looking for a bootcamp, you should also consider what skills you need to know. Do some research about what types of jobs in tech you want to pursue and what skills those jobs typically require. For example, if you want to become a data scientist, you’ll want to enroll in a bootcamp that has a strong iOS development component. If you want to become a software engineer, you should go to a software engineering bootcamp.
You can use tools like Glassdoor and Indeed to find job posts for various positions in tech. You can also talk with programmers you know and ask them about what skills you need to know. Make sure that you learn an in-demand skill so that when you graduate you’ll have a strong chance of finding a job. Overall, make sure that what you learn aligns with your career goals.
6. Consider Your Learning Style
Before you enroll in a bootcamp, think through your needs and look for schools which will work best based on those needs. If you need flexibility, you may want to consider an online bootcamp. If you are new to tech, you may want to join a bootcamp with a strong track record of helping beginners. Also, consider whether you want to study part-time or full-time.
Think about where you want to study, how you learn best, and how much time you’ll be able to commit to a bootcamp before you enroll.
Going to a coding bootcamp has the potential to vastly improve your career prospects. Graduates from top coding bootcamps often report significant salary boosts and access to better jobs in the labor market as a result of their bootcamp education. Keep in mind the six factors we’ve covered in this article when you’re choosing which bootcamp to attend in 2020.