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Thinking about signing up for coding bootcamp? Before taking the plunge, it’s important to consider whether the coding bootcamp you’re interested in is worth the financial cost.
Here at Hack Reactor, we understand that coding bootcamps are a big investment, both time-wise and financially, which is why we’ve partnered with Skills Fund to streamline your bootcamp evaluation process.
Skills Fund is a private lender that issues loans to students who attend boot camps that have successfully completed the company’s quality-assurance process (like Hack Reactor). Skills Fund believes all students should receive a “return on education” or “ROE” – essentially, evaluating the cost of attending a coding bootcamp and student outcomes to determine whether the returns of the expected employment and financial opportunity outweigh the cost of the program.
Here are 5 factors you should consider when evaluating the ROI of a coding bootcamp:
1. What are the program completion and graduation rates?
Always look at the admissions and completion rates of the bootcamp. If you’re going to invest in this coding bootcamp experience, you should ensure that the bootcamp is investing in you as well. The bootcamp you select should exhibit admissions selectivity – meaning they won’t accept just anyone. They must assess their potential students through interviews or other processes, to ensure they're only enrolling students that are a good fit. Selectivity assures that you’re surrounding yourself with a community of other driven, like-minded individuals who will help support and motivate you throughout the program.
This data should be verifiable and transparent –the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR) posts this information publicly for many coding bootcamps, Hack Reactor included.
2. Does the bootcamp have a significant employer network with many employer direct relationships in your chosen city?
The bootcamp you select should have a large employer network of companies for potential employment post-graduation. For example, you can check out the Student Outcomes page for evidence of this at Hack Reactor. Does the site have logos of recognizable, trustworthy companies? Peruse sites like LinkedIn to get a sense of what the alumni network is like.
Ideally, the alumni network will have people located in the location you eventually want to end up after program completion. If a coding bootcamp has many alumni in your ideal city, such as San Francisco, they’ll have a better reputation in that area and you’ll have more inherent connections to use to find a job.
Again, this data should be transparent and readily available. Look for these statistics on the website or contact the admissions office for a report. Hack Reactor makes these numbers public on our Outcomes Page.
3. What is the average graduate starting salary?
Since you’re investing in this new career path, it makes sense to ensure that your post-grad salary will make the investment worthwhile. Further, try to find the average starting salary in the city you’re interested in working in. Knowing that a bootcamp’s students can make a certain salary amount in San Francisco won’t benefit you if you’re planning on living in Chicago, where salaries tend to be lower.
Make sure this information is available and verifiable on the site. Check out the outcomes page or the CIRR site to find a bootcamp’s average graduate starting salary.
4. Does the bootcamp have a relevant, skills training-based curriculum?
This can be harder to vet from the outside, but you should make sure that the bootcamp curriculum has been built with input from industry experts. The content should be up-to-date, relevant and in line with labor demands. Check out recent statistics on in-demand coding languages to see whether the bootcamp teaches those.
If you’re going to spend a significant amount of time and money learning certain skills, you should make sure those skills will actually be useful and relevant when you graduate the program.
5. What is the actual financial return on your investment?
Let’s look at the numbers. College graduates invest four years of their time in school, yet the average bootcamp course length is 11.4 weeks. On average, coding bootcamp tuition is $11,400, though the average tuition cost for a 4-year computer science degree is $157,760. If you don’t have a college degree yet, attending a coding bootcamp is a lower-cost investment, both time-wise and financially.
Even if you’ve already gone to college and spent the time and money to get your bachelor’s degree, it’s still important to consider the possible gains you’ll experience by investing in a bootcamp versus a master's or post-graduate degree.
Coding bootcamps are a significant financial investment that require a great deal of time, energy and money – so it’s crucial that you take the time and effort to determine whether the coding bootcamp you’re interested in is worth its weight.