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2021 Guide

What Is a Coding Bootcamp?

A coding bootcamp is an intensive, full-time technical training program that teaches the programming skills that employers are looking for. Coding bootcamps promise to give students with no prior coding experience the coding skills they need to solve real-world problems and pursue a career in web and mobile development, design, security or related tech fields in a short period of time.

Though most coding bootcamps are focused on teaching programming languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Python so that alumni can become Developers – the people who design and build websites and apps – coding bootcamp graduates can apply those new coding skills to any number of jobs within the tech industry, including in web and mobile development, UX/UI design, data science, digital marketing, machine learning, and software engineering. Still, most coding bootcamp attendees want to transition into a career in web development. They do this by learning to build applications at a professional level under the guidance of instructors who are immersed in the industry. That provides the foundation they need to build production-ready applications and demonstrate they have the skills to add real value to a potential employer.

Immersive coding bootcamps can be full-time or part-time, and they are offered both in-person and online. Though they differ dramatically from traditional postsecondary institutions, top coding bootcamps will often have a career services team that offers career support and career coaching. The typical coding bootcamp takes less than four months to complete — 15.1 weeks on average. And most graduates report getting a job with ease – in fact, more than 90 percent of BrainStation’s graduates are employed in their fields within 180 days of graduation.

Coding bootcamps have grown more popular each year recently. According to market research by Course Report, coding bootcamps graduated an estimated 23,000 students in 2019. The research found that across 44 states, there are 95 in-person providers and 13 online bootcamps.

How Long Are Coding Bootcamps?

Most coding bootcamps take less than four months to complete — 15.1 weeks on average.

Outcome reports show that most bootcamp graduates report getting a job with ease – in fact, more than 90 percent of BrainStation's bootcamp graduates are employed in their fields within 180 days of graduation.

There are short-term coding bootcamps that could be a good choice for tech professionals with some background in web development who already has some digital skills, a grasp of computer science fundamentals, and some experience programming.

There are also 4-5 month bootcamps that tend to offer a comprehensive curriculum that would likely include full-stack web development and might also delve into areas topics like software development, data analytics, or UX/UI design.

How Hard Is a Coding Bootcamp?

Coding bootcamps are hard, as any high-quality program will be designed to challenge students from all experience levels and equip them with the technical skills and knowledge of programming languages necessary to thrive in web development, software engineering, or a related field. Determining exactly how hard a coding bootcamp is for a specific student will depend on their educational background, knowledge of coding languages, and tech experience.

If you want to know how hard a coding bootcamp will be for you personally, consider these factors:

Your academic background

When trying to assess the challenge level of a coding bootcamp, your educational background could be relevant.

Bootcamp students with computer science degrees or backgrounds in mathematics, information, statistics, or other related fields might pick up some concepts quicker than someone without a bachelor's degree or who has a background in more general education courses.

That said, the actual usefulness of advanced college degrees will vary depending on your goals. An understanding of math will be very important if you ultimately want to apply your knowledge of coding languages to the field of data science or machine learning, but much less so if you are focused on a career as a Web Developer.

And it's worth mentioning that most bootcamps stress that no prior knowledge of math or computer science is necessary.

Your professional experience

Coding bootcamps focus on turning people with no experience into job-ready Web and Software Developers, but if you do have any experience working with a tech company or using even one programming language in a real world context, it could make your time at a coding bootcamp slightly easier. Some background working in tech or alongside web development or software engineering professionals might give you some level of literacy with the concepts that you would learn at a coding bootcamp, even if you don't know a single coding language.

Further, if you are already working in an environment like that when you begin a coding bootcamp, you might have the opportunity to apply what you're learning or lean on the expertise of your colleagues, giving you another learning advantage.

Your personal situation

Ultimately, bootcamp grads often find that the difficulty level of a coding program will vary based on the circumstances of their life.

Some bootcamp alumni managed to juggle a full time job with a part-time online bootcamp, and the learning curve they faced was steeper since they had to divide their focus.

You will know best the circumstances of your life and whether you have the time and energy to really invest to a coding bootcamp. Certainly, your motivation and effort level will have a big effect on how easy or difficult you find it, as well as your outcomes.

Further, if you plan to seek an internship or job placement as a Software Engineer or Web Developer during your time in a coding bootcamp, that will affect how quickly you pick up the core concepts.

The bootcamp you choose

Even though the coding bootcamp industry is young, there are many different institutions now offering bootcamp programs and online coding courses that promise to help grads find a new career path in software development and software engineering.

Some of those bootcamps have a proven history of delivering on those promises and helping grads meet their goals, while other programs are simply not as good. The best coding bootcamps might be challenging, but they are also thorough and dedicated to making sure you are graduating with the necessary skills to thrive at top tech companies.

The method of study could also have an impact on the challenge level. A full time coding bootcamp offers an immersive experience could make learning coding faster, more efficient, and therefore a bit easier than a part time program where students need to be sure to maintain their focus over a longer period of study.

What Are the Best Coding Bootcamps?

The best coding bootcamps offer rigorous, up-to-date courses taught by industry-leading professionals and give graduates all the coding and technical ability they need to thrive in a booming job market. The best coding bootcamps will graduate job-ready professionals with the programming skills and polished project portfolio necessary to land a job in web development, software development, software engineering, data science, or other related fields.

Top coding bootcamps should provide some degree of transparency when it comes to student outcomes. The best programs should also be able to offer some detail on their courses in advance, so if there's a specific skill, tool, or competency 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.

Top bootcamps will also offer robust career services, networking events, and mentorship opportunities.

  • Online coding bootcamps. Industry-leading online coding bootcamps will offer a lot of flexibility in allowing students to put together study schedules that fit their lives. A good online coding bootcamp should also give students the benefits of as many of the services that they would have received in-person as possible. Networking events, mock interviews, and panel discussions with industry thought leaders can all be conducted virtually. Similarly, some attention should be paid to helping students forge connections with faculty despite the physical distance.

  • In-person coding bootcamps. Simply put, the best in-person coding bootcamps will have modern, innovative, and state-of-the-art campuses. Not only will those campuses allow students access to the most up-to-date equipment and technology, but they should also be comfortable spaces to hang out and work, particularly given the long hours that many students put into a coding bootcamp.

What Is an Online Coding Bootcamp?

Online coding bootcamps are fast, intensive programs that teach coding, programming, and other technical skills in a short period of time in a fully remote environment.

An online coding bootcamp can be full-time or part-time, with graduates in both formats gaining the technical skills necessary to begin looking at a career in fields like software development, full-stack web development, cybersecurity, and mobile development. A schedule of online classes can be an appealing option for would-be bootcamp students who live far from major tech industry hubs like New York City and San Francisco where many in-person coding bootcamps are located.

Online programs are also often a good option for prospective students who are eyeing a career transition but still working in their other field. Still, a coding bootcamp student should not expect an online program to be any easier than its in-person counterpart. Online programs take just as long to complete and are just as challenging as in-person bootcamp courses.

What Are Part-Time Coding Bootcamps?

Part-time coding bootcamps are flexible but intensive programs that give graduates the in-demand skills to begin a career in web development while working around their schedules.

People who are interested in attending a web development bootcamp but who can't commit to a full-time schedule due to work, family, or other factors often consider part-time coding bootcamps. Both a full-time and part-time web development program will impart the same in-demand skills, a part-time course might only require around 25 hours per week of commitment from students.

At the same time, a part-time web development course could take significantly longer to complete, anywhere from 20-32 weeks.

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