Wanna Learn to Code? Pick One of These Coding Academies

Because the Canadian coding school or “bootcamp” sector is still in its infancy, it’s tough to decipher which programs will ultimately lead to the best education and employment chances. Since there’s no real or leading watchdog in Canada to challenge success or failure rates, it makes the decision even tougher.

Here’s six Canadian coding bootcamps worth learning a bit more about.

BrainStation – 460 King St W in Toronto and 1110 Hamilton Street in Vancouver

BrainStation began in 2012 as a collective of industry practitioners providing collaborative, hands-on training for working professionals, freelancers and entrepreneurs. Since being acquired by Konrad Group (disclosure: KG owns Techvibes), BrainStation has grown into Canada’s largest coding academy.

“Almost every job today either requires, or could benefit from, a working knowledge of technology, whether that is web development, graphic design, or digital marketing,” founder Jason Field told TalentEgg. “And all major forecasts for hiring trends show a significant shortfall in qualified candidates in the fields of technology and design, and specifically software development. ”

Offerings: Full-time and part-time courses across a wide breadth of topics, including digital marketing, user interface design, data analytics, iOS development, and user experience design. Part-time classes typically run during weekday evenings. The courses are three hours per week (one weekly class) for 10 weeks.

BrainStation also offers weekend workshops for $300 and networking events for $20.

Instructor to Student ratio: Varies by class, but BrainStation always promise small groups for better learning.

Price? Financing? Refund?: Part-time courses start at $1,900, while full-time programs cost $X.

Success Rate: X

Other Info: BrainStation Toronto events are taught in KG’s Quantum Coffee building, making it easy for students to enjoy quality coffee and delicious scones while learning to build the future.

Bitmaker Labs – 220 King Street West, Toronto

Five university graduates, including Duncan McCall, Will Richman and Andrew Mawer, founded one of the oldest Canadian coding bootcamps two years ago in Bitmaker labs. McCall left to found Toronto’s Brainstation, but that school hasn’t shown much activity on its social media accounts since the summer.

Mawer continues to lead Bitmaker Labs along with Julie Haché and Craig Hunter. The school’s leaders hail from notable firms such as Uber and Shopify.

Offerings: One full-time course (Web Development) and two part-time courses (User Experience Design and Front End Web Development).

Web Development runs nine weeks beginning January 19, and teaches several coding languages, like HTML, CSS, JS, UNIX and Rails.

User Experience Design runs 12 weeks beginning February 9, and teaches basic design principles for web and mobile design. Front End Web Development runs 12 weeks beginning February 17, and teaches students how to code websites using HTML, CSS, UNIX and Java Script.

Instructor to Student ratio: One-to-seven

Price? Financing? Refund?: $9,000 for Web Development, $2,500 for User Experience Design and Front End Web Development.

Bitmaker Labs currently offers financing from FinanceIt, offering what they call competitive interest rates. If students seek a refund during their first week, they will be refunded all but $2,000 of tuition cost. Bitmaker Labs can terminate a student’s training at any point and return their prorated tuition to them.

Success Rate: Bitmaker Labs claims on its website that 90 percent of graduates find work within three months.

Other Info: Students need to bring their own laptop, preferably a Mac. Bitmaker Labs offers student housing on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Lighthouse Labs – 300 – 128 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

Located in Vancouver’s Launch Academy, Lighthouse Labs held its first course in October, 2013. Lighthouse Labs is also registered with the Private Career Training Institutions Agency of BC, a provincial Crown Corporation.

Offerings: Lighthouse Labs offers two eight-week courses, Web Development Immersive and iOS Development Immersive. Lighthouse Labs CTO Jeremy Shaki told us that the iOS Development Immersive course is the first one of its kind in Canada currently.

Web Development Immersive is taught monthly, and teaches object oriented programming with Ruby, web development with Ruby and Sinatra, Ruby on Rails and JavaScript, and projects and advanced topics. iOS Development Immersive is taught bi-monthly, and teaches Objective-C, the iOS SDK, programming, mobile development and project management best practices. Lighthouse Labs is currently teaching its inaugural iOS Development Immersive.

Instructor to Student ratio: Between one-to-five and one-to-seven. Shaki said 40 part-time teaching assistants also assist students at varying times.

Price? Financing? Refund?: Both courses are priced at $8,000, while Lighthouse Labs offers financing from FinanceIt. Interest rates vary between 10 and 13 percent. Students can gain a full refund before class starts, a 75 percent refund within the program’s first two weeks, and 50 percent after four weeks.

“If students are struggling by the end of week four, we let them start again (we call it roll-back) for free, as long as it was a matter of understanding and not effort,” Shaki told Techvibes.

Success Rate: Every student that has gone through Lighthouse Labs looking for a job as a developer has been placed within 3 months. The majority start in a temporary co-op that pays at least $500 per week, while some move directly to full-time work.

Other Info: Students are introduced to several senior developers who help out with the program, leaving with a network of new colleagues. That network is also strengthened given that the program is located within Launch Academy, arguably Vancouver’s most important startup hub.

DecodeMTL – 51 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal

A brand new coding bootcamp offering in Montreal, DecodeMTL offers a flexible, less intensive program for less money. Its founder Kevin Koury is a down-to-earth, friendly person who is happy to answer any question prospective students may have.

Offerings: DecodeMTL offers a part-time, eight-week Front End Web Development course that covers HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Responsive Framework and a final project. The course offers two, two-hour sessions a week, as well a weekly Google hangouts session.

Instructor to Student ratio: There are currently five students in the inaugural course, thus DecodeMTL offers a one-to-five ratio. The program’s next course will cap at ten people with an instructor and a teaching assistant.

Price? Financing? Refund?: Front End Web Development costs $2,500. Financing is not offered, but Koury is flexible with payment plans. There is no refund policy, but the founders are open to work out solutions with students who may not be able to continue.

Success Rate: No statistics exist yet.

Other info: The need came because there was very little offering in Montreal. DecodeMTL works out of Notman House, which on its own offers extensive networking potential given that Real Ventures as well as the FounderFuel accelerator program work out of the building.

HackerYou – 3rd Floor, 483 Queen Street West, Toronto

Heather Payne, Breanna Hughes, Laura Plant and Melissa Crnić founded HackerYou in 2012. Those four founders also created Ladies Learning Code. Since 2011, Ladies Learning Code claims it has taught over 8,000 people through its various coding workshops.

Offerings: HackerYou offers an outstanding five courses in total: Intro to HTML and CSS; Into to Responsive Design and Advanced CSS; Winter Front-End Web Development Immersive: Becoming a Professional Web Developer in Nine Weeks; Intro to Ruby on Rails for Entrepreneurs & Wantrepreneurs; and Advanced Rails: Prototyping Your Idea.

Former graduate and current front end web developer Dumitru Onceanu said the most value comes in the non-technical skills HackerYou teaches students. That includes personal branding, finding and securing clients, time management and more. He also continues to use the co-working space at HackerYou HQ, which is offered to graduates for free for one month.

Onceanu also mentioned that a final demo-day is followed by a meet and greet with 20-25 industry employers.

Instructor to Student Ratio: one-to-10 or less. Supplementary mentors and former graduates also assist students.

Price? Financing? Refund?: Intro to HTML and CSS and Intro to Ruby on Rails for Entrepreneurs & Wantrepreneurs both run for 39 hours of learning over six weeks, costing $2,500.

Intro to Responsive Design & Advanced CSS and Advanced Rails: Prototyping Your Idea both run for 39 hours of learning, costing $1,600.

Meanwhile, the Winter Front-End Web Development Immersive: Becoming a Professional Web Developer in Nine Weeks runs for 360 or more classroom hours, costing $7,000.

Payment plans may be arranged on a case-by-case basis. Flexible refund policy.

Success Rate? Unknown.

Other Info: Onceanu told us that the program is great for those who want to pursue a freelance career. He called the full-time instructors well-prepared, proficient professionals.

CodeCore – 142 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

CodeCore is a community-focused bootcamp that launched its first program in January, 2014. It currently offers one full-time and one part-time course. It is PCTIA-registered within BC, and claims to be the first and only legally-operating coding bootcamps in Western Canada.

Offerings: CodeCore offers a full-time, nine-week Ruby on Rails bootcamp, beginning January 5. The course covers HTML and CSS, JavaScript and jQuery, software architecture and object-oriented development, Ruby on Rails, popular APIs and design and user experience.

Meanwhile, its part-time, one-month programming fundamentals bootcamp begins January 31. It teaches HTML and CSS basics, Ruby basics, Database basics and integration.

Instructor to student ratio: one-to-15, but sometimes with multiple instructors

Price? Refunding? Financing?: The full-time Ruby-on-Rails bootcamp costs $7,600, while the part-time, Programming Fundamentals bootcamp costs $750.

CodeCore offers financing through FinanceIt, usually coming at between 10 and 13 percent interest. The school also offers financing options itself for its full-time bootcamp, which includes the option to pay $800 per month, or $4,000 upfront and $575 per month the rest of the way.

The school’s detailed refund policy can be found here.

Success Rate: CodeCore’s CEO Tammam Kbeili said 100 percent of graduates found work through either an internship, a freelance contract or a junior position within a company. Given his history as a successful web consultant, Kbeili is often able to offer graduates contracts that he can’t take on himself, with the help of teaching assistants.

He added that if students are free to take the course again, as many times as they wish for no extra charge.

Other Info: CodeCore heavily emphasized its community-focus. If students aren’t happy, Kbeili wants to work with them to ensure they get what they need out of the program.

Worth noting: all these programs require students to learn on-site.