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2021 Guide

Coding Bootcamps

Find out everything you need to know about coding bootcamps and digital skills training with the BrainStation Coding Bootcamps Guide. BrainStation’s bootcamps and courses can help you build digital skills and prepare for a new career.

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The rising demand for professionals with skills and experience in web development and software engineering (among other increasingly in-demand digital skills) has led to a boom in coding bootcamps, with increasing student attendance and employer recognition.

In little more than ten years, there are now hundreds of coding bootcamps around the world, all focused on giving aspiring Web Developers and Software Engineers the technical skills (including experience with multiple programming languages) to stand out in a job market that is begging for professionals with computer science knowledge and full-stack web development experience.

This guide will provide a complete overview of coding bootcamps, including their history, how coding bootcamps work, and what you can expect from a coding bootcamp.

What Are Coding Bootcamps?

Coding bootcamps are short, intensive training programs meant to give students hands-on experience and the opportunity to work on real-world projects. The intention for coding bootcamps is to provide graduates with the skills and experience that are currently in demand by employers. The "currently" in that description is important, as these programs were partly devised as a response to traditional computer science degrees, which were not preparing university grads for the reality of the current job market. While "coding bootcamps" as a term has come to be used for digital skills training across disciplines, including courses and programs relating to data science, UX design, and digital marketing, the term originally was meant to describe short-term, intensive training programs in software development, web development, or software engineering.

How Did Coding Bootcamps Start?

Coding bootcamps started in the early 2010s as an alternative to computer science and software engineering degrees offered by traditional institutions of higher education. At the time, a wide range of organizations – especially in the tech industry – were struggling to fill job openings in software engineering, software development, web development, and mobile development (best summed up by the oft-quoted "software is eating the world" refrain, which warned of the increasingly widening skills gap ). Graduates of the four-year degrees mentioned above often had the computer science fundamentals, but not necessarily the in-demand skills necessary for day-to-day life as a Web Developer – specifically, experience with must-have programming languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby on Rails, and more.

Coding bootcamps were developed to fill those gaps; to allow students to quickly level up their technical skills and knowledge and, perhaps more importantly, give them the chance to apply their newly learned skills in real-world project work. While coding bootcamps were met with a natural degree of skepticism initially, graduates of these programs quickly punched holes in these doubts, and have helped fill those software engineering jobs and close the skills gap in tech.

But as demand for web development (and specifically full-stack web development) skills continues to grow in our increasingly digital-first world, more and more coding bootcamp programs have emerged, from a bevy of online coding bootcamps to in-person programs in tech hotbeds like New York City, San Francisco, and even Salt Lake City.

Today, in fact, coding bootcamps are a $350 million industry, with Course Report estimating over 25,000 graduates in 2020 alone across the world.

Web Development Bootcamps

Often used interchangeably with the term "coding bootcamps," web development bootcamps are specific training programs meant to prepare people for careers as web developers and software engineers.

An increasingly popular alternative to a traditional, four-year computer science degree, a web development bootcamp will typically look to give graduates full-stack web development skills, rather than focusing exclusively on either back-end or front-end web development.

That would mean learning to code with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, learning to unlock the power of your web applications with Node.js and Express, and understanding more advanced concepts relating to data structures, algorithms, and relational databases.

How Do Coding Bootcamps Work?

Coding bootcamps work by quickly boosting the technical web development skills and knowledge of bootcamp students, giving them hands-on experience with a number of programming languages. The key element here, however, is that bootcamp students work directly with industry professionals, allowing them to learn computer science fundamentals with a healthy mix of on-the-job realism and insight.

Aside from their short, intensive natures, what initially set coding bootcamps apart was the career services and connections available to bootcamp graduates. Not only do bootcamp graduates come out of these programs with the skills and portfolios needed to begin applying for jobs in web development, software development, and software engineering – they often will have a whole new set of industry connections to help open doors for them.

What Are the Best Coding Bootcamps?

There are a number of ways to gauge the effectiveness of a coding bootcamp, but ultimately, it comes down to one simple thing: has it helped you change (or advance) your career.

Typically, the best coding bootcamps provide short but intensive courses taught by software and web development experts and professionals that have experience working in the field (or who are currently working in the field). A reputable coding bootcamp will also often have partnerships with leading tech companies, allowing bootcamp students and grads to benefit from a network of "in-house" hiring partners.

The intention behind any coding bootcamp is to quickly prepare someone for a new digital career (specifically in web development or software engineering), and because of that, the best coding bootcamps aim to provide graduates with job-ready development skills and a polished project portfolio that can be used in applications for jobs in web development, software development, software engineering, data science, or other related fields. The very best coding bootcamps will also offer robust career services (including job placement and ongoing career support that prepare graduates for the job search), networking events, and mentorship opportunities.

As the intention of a coding bootcamp is to prepare people to start a new career, a "top" coding bootcamp should provide some degree of transparency when it comes to student outcomes. The best coding bootcamps should also offer details on their courses, so if there's something you're looking to learn (for example, you're after skills in full stack, JavaScript, or data visualization), you'll know whether or not it's included.

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