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Are Coding Bootcamps Worth It?

According to a study from Course Report, coding bootcamps across the country will graduate 22,000 students in 2017. This year marks five years since the founding of the first coding bootcamp, and the industry is continuing to grow, with more employer demand for coding bootcamp graduates and at least 95 coding bootcamps throughout the U.S.

However, the recent closures of long-standing coding bootcamps The Iron Yard and Dev Bootcamp have left many potential students wondering whether coding bootcamps are worth the plunge, both financially and logistically.

Not all coding bootcamps are worth it. They can be worlds apart when it comes to hours, quality of curriculum, reputation, student job search success, average starting salary and ROI. Only a reputable coding bootcamp with a track record of success, a high standard of student outcomes rigor & transparency and great reviews is worth the time, energy and money.

So, if you’re wondering “Should I do a coding bootcamp?” read on – we’ll explore the questions students should ask themselves when deciding whether coding bootcamps are worth it:

1.    Will attending a coding bootcamp help you achieve your career goals?

Before deciding whether coding bootcamp is right for you, you’ll need to figure out for yourself your career goals. Do you want to be a full-time developer or are you simply looking to learn more about web development to help you in your current marketing position? Do you want to learn multiple languages or just one?

Once you figure out your goals, you can contemplate whether attending a coding bootcamp will help you achieve those goals. Does the bootcamp offer the opportunity to learn skills outside of programming? What is their student success track record? How large is their alumni network? Does the bootcamp have connections with companies you’re interested in? All these factors should play a role in determining whether coding bootcamp is right for you. See our full-time and part-time programs here.

2.    Are you ready for the fast pace of a coding bootcamp?

Coding bootcamps are fast-paced, accelerated and oftentimes not designed for complete beginners. They are challenging by design, to ensure that students are prepared for tough technical interviews, and further, the fast-paced environments they’ll eventually work in.

To truly master these languages, the students that succeed frequently take on projects on the side, outside of regular work. Many coding bootcamp students come in on weekends and attend meetups, workshops and other conferences not part of regular scheduling.

If you’re someone that doesn’t embrace challenging situations and do well under pressure, then a coding bootcamp may not be the best learning environment for you.

3.    Do you want a community feeling with one-on-one individual attention?

A huge advantage of attending a bootcamp is the community of people you’re going through the experience with. You’ll be spending tons of time together, whether it’s learning, studying or going to meetups together. This opportunity to network with like-minded people with similar career goals can be a game-changer – you never know who you meet that can be of help to you later on in your job search.

A coding bootcamp will also provide you with individualized attention from instructors that you just can’t get in a self-taught course. These mentors will take time to explain questions to you, work with you after class and answer emails after hours. This kind of one-on-one access is invaluable to your growth as a developer.

4.    Are you financially prepared for the cost?

Let’s face it: coding bootcamps are a big financial investment. Though there are payment plans and scholarships, it’s important to have some savings set aside before you take the plunge.

You’ll need to have enough money to pay for your living expenses (and possibly relocation expenses) while you attend the camp, plus for a few months after it ends while you job search. Finding a coding bootcamp that offers scholarships can be a big help. Hack Reactor offers merit-based scholarships open to everyone – learn more about our ongoing scholarships.

5.    Are you committed to this long-term?

Coding bootcamps are immersive, time-intensive experiences. Along the way, you’re bound to get frustrated, burned out and tired. And, though many coding bootcamps will offer you amazing opportunities to move ahead, there are no guarantees if you don’t put in the work.

So if you’re not truly committed to your end goals, your motivation to push through will quickly fade. You need to be in it 200% and willing to give your complete all.

6. How do you feel when you read about individual student success stories?

After looking at a lot of data and running the numbers, don’t forget to do a reality check. Will you be happy and empowered by coding bootcamp? Have you seen examples of others succeeding in all ways--financially and emotionally--after coding bootcamp? Be sure to look for diverse, relatable stories of student outcomes on a human level.

Coding bootcamp students have many individual success stories, some of which are not counted in data. Entrepreneurs, for example, can learn software engineering and go on to become billionaires, but may go through a time when they are not officially employed, and thus not counted as a success in outcomes. Some grads use software engineering skills to empower and pay for other endeavors, like spiritual pursuits, long periods of travel, social service or other creative passions. Those grads work for a time, save up money and then take time off for their other goals, only to return to software engineering later. They have experienced tremendous personal success, but aren’t counted in outcomes data when they are unemployed.

A solid bootcamp will share a variety of student success stories on their blog or newsletter. Make sure they resonate with you on some level.

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If your answer to all these questions is a resounding ‘yes,’ then pursuing a coding bootcamp is probably right for you. Best of luck!


Interested in starting on the same path? It all began at Hack Reactor. Learn more about Hack Reactor's full-time and part-time programs. We're online in SFAustinNYC, and LA.