Looking for some career development in 2020? Programmers seeking to expand their skills in one of the most in-demand skills often consider enrolling in a crash course boot camp. These programs, however, can be costly and time-consuming. Boot camps can be between 40 and 100 hours of constant coding; for freelancers, that’s a lot of time away from client work. Here are the pros and cons of enrolling in a programming boot camp.
Pro: boot camps are more affordable than university classes
To be clear, boot camps aren’t inexpensive. Here are what some popular coding boot camps will cost:
- Dev Bootcamp: $14,000
- Hack Reactor: $17,780
- Application Academy: $5,000
Prepare to spend $10,000 to $20,000 total for a coding boot camp. That’s a pretty high price tag, but not when you compare a boot camp enrollment to tuition at a university. A traditional computer science degree falls anywhere between $20,000 to $60,000+ per year – and that’s not including living expenses, textbooks, and the fact that you’ll likely be out of the job market (and not earning a full-time wage) while attending classes.
Con: boot camps only offer basic training
Given the concentrated amount of time a boot camp has to teach you new skills, most programs focus on practical, actionable knowledge. As one attendee describes, “a lot of boot camps focus on specific languages or tech stacks without really focusing on the core fundamentals of what’s happening. The ‘rules’ for coding are the same regardless of what language you write in, and more focus should be put on the theoretical aspects of software.”
Expect a boot camp to give you limited instruction in a particular subject area. If you enter a boot camp as a beginner, you’ll leave a slightly less beginner; boot camps don’t necessarily give you all the tools you need to enter the job market. Of course, if you have experience in the coding world, and are simply seeking to pick up a new skill, this disadvantage won’t matter as much.
Pro: get accelerated learning of coding skills
“Coding camps range from two to six months. If you’re a person with big obligations, whether that’s a family, a full-time job, or any other commitment, a coding boot camp will likely better suit your lifestyle,” writes one expert.
The benefit of attending a boot camp is that you are forced to set aside time to exclusively focus on developing your skills. Freelancers juggle competing priorities on a regular basis: client work, business development, networking, and managing their business. Personal projects and professional development tend to take a backseat as a result. A developer on Hackernoon reports that, in his experience, boot camps demand all your time and attention. If you enroll in a three-month program, it’s likely you will spend 80 hours a week on assignments. It’s a great, intense, immersive experience for those seeking to quickly pivot in their career.
Con: it’s hard to discern the quality of instruction
There are more than 90 coding boot camps currently being offered in the US – all with varying degrees of credibility. For someone just starting out in programming or software development, it’s difficult to know what skills you need and what the quality of the instruction will be. “It’s not hard to find a litany of bad bootcamp experiences online. You can find plenty of positive reviews as well, on sites such as Course Report, but people considering bootcamps may not hear as much about negative experiences,” reports TechBeacon.
It’s critical to do your research on a coding boot camp, as well as to be crystal clear on what you’re seeking. What language do you want to learn, and what are your goals following the boot camp? What are you willing to pay and how much time can you dedicate to learning? And, lastly, what’s your learning style – do you need to be in a classroom setting? Can you take an online course?
One final word of caution: many boot camps sell access to their alumni network as a perk of completing their program. This can be misleading, as many boot camps hire graduates as instructors. In practice, boot camp attendees aren’t getting access to job opportunities so much as they are getting poor instruction from teachers who were in their seats six months prior. Instead, look for a recruitment partner like JetCake who can connect you with ongoing support as you further your career.
Not sure if a coding boot camp is right for you? Talk to the experts at JetCake about our coaching and job placement program.