In recent years, tech-related career choices in the world of coding, programming or software engineering have come to the attention of many as being especially desirable ones, usually for one of two reasons: the generous financial remunerations offered to tech specialists in the right positions, or because this is an industry that represents the future, and therefore a long and prosperous career path. Another concept to have entered public awareness and the lexicon of the 21st century, is that of the coding bootcamp or technical academy, which are private schools that offer intensive training in web development, mobile development, online marking or other similar academic fields that have experienced a recent surge in popularity.
So, is enrolling in a coding bootcamp a smart move, and will the experience be one that will lead to meaningful learning and improved career prospects? Of course, this will differ from case to case, but the financial cost of the average coding bootcamp will be a good deal lower when compared with the cost of a degree, while as the technical skills learned will have direct and immediate applications in more working positions. Intensive courses offered in coding bootcamps can be significantly more beneficial than some more abstract - and less focused - degree courses.
Research carried out by bootcamp watchdog Course Report has found that 80% of graduates from such courses have used the skills learned on bootcamps in their jobs, and the average salary increase following a bootcamp to be 50.5%, arriving at an average salary of $70,698. At an average price of $11,874, all of this shows that statistically the courses are worth the time and effort, as well as the financial cost.
With this said, coding bootcamps are on the increase, from 40 in 2014 to over 200 currently, and over 20,000 coding bootcamp graduates in 2018 from a fast-growing industry. This means the competition is there, but are there enough job vacancies for graduates? A CompTIA study found 667,200 open job vacancies in the US in 2015, and software development jobs were predicted to increase by 24% from 2016-2026 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition to this, all evidence seems to suggest that as a skill, coding is far from losing its relevance, so those who acquire the know-how and abilities will reap the benefits in years to come.
Another incentive for many to take on the coding academy experience is to learn technical skills in order to help with ever-increasing IT requirements needed to run their own businesses. It’s always worthwhile to understand the mechanics of a digital infrastructure, although these developments can also be augmented with small business IT support, which is a service more readily available now than ever before, for the times when outside assistance is called for.
So, once the decision has been made to forego the sacrifices and commit to the intense struggle, there are a number of factors you’ll need to consider in choosing a suitable coding school. The first will most likely be location. Fortunately, as there are now a range of new coding schools and courses, there should be a wide selection within reach wherever you may be in the world.
Another factor to consider is the focus of the course you intend to take, or perhaps the programming language that you feel drawn to. Languages can be regional to some extent, so you might want to consider the city, country or industry you plan to work in. For example, while Java is the most popular programming language in India, Python is the most popular in France, according to the Popularity of Programming Languages (PYPL) index. The languages that are up-and-coming or tipped to be the most influential in years to come are common topics of discussion, and people often take different views on this. Personal preference may also lead some creative individuals to design or front-end programming, and the more mathematically-inclined to databases. Those more interested in mobile development will probably be more interested in languages like the recently introduced Apple Swift.
Among the wide variety of coding academies, a collection stand out for their reputations and positive reviews.
Ironhack is a large global organisation with schools in locations across the US, Europe and South America. Courses are full or part time, and average at around $11,000. Due to an extensive network of partners, career prospects for graduates are bright.
Le Wagon is a highly acclaimed, Paris-based company with branches throughout Europe, but is also expanding into East Asia and South America. Nine week courses offer full-stack web development training using Ruby, and all-round development training.
Like many other schools,The Tech Academy offers students an online option, as well as flexible rolling enrolment on 26-week courses. For those wishing to attend classes, schools are located in Denver and the Pacific Northwest. Languages studied for full-stack web development included Python and .NET frameworks.
At locations across the US and London,Flatiron School offers on-campus and online courses in a range of subjects, as well as scholarships offered to women, minorities, veterans and merit-based cases.
More recently there have been an increasing number of schools that offer students the chance to pay for the course after they have been settled into paying jobs, in what are known as Income Sharing Agreements (ISA) in the US. One of these is ISA company Leaf, that partners with Modern Labor, a new coding bootcamp in San Francisco. As well as funding the course, this company also pays students living costs of $2000 a month for the duration of the course, which they are not obligated to pay back until they secure salaries of over $40,000, of which 15% is deducted.
There are also various schools offering coding classes for free, such as Mountwest in West Virginia or 42 coding school in Paris and San Francisco. Microsoft is offering free courses for women in the UK, to address the gender imbalance that is difficult to overlook in the world of tech, and Flatiron School is also partnering with SeatGeek to give $200,000 to the 50/50 scholarship, which offers $3500 to individual women pursuing education in tech.
After having committed your money and time to a coding bootcamp, what are the best approaches and attitudes to take with you on your course, and how will you get through the potentially demanding and stressful workload?
One answer to this is with as much preparation as you possibly have time for, by making use of the wide range of free online resources, such as Codecademy or The Odin Project. There are also many short online courses, such as through online schools like Udemy, Coursera or Treehouse, that give background courses in coding at a low cost.
After you start the course, be careful to document your learning and review regularly. In particular, keep records of the errors you make so you learn to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Remember that you are paying good money for the course, so ask questions whenever you’re unsure about anything. You can also collaborate with and learn from the mistakes of others, as you’re all in this together. With that being said, remember this is about your own learning, so comparing yourself to others isn’t useful, and you should only gauge your own progression through your own learning. Finally, bootcamps can be very intense, so make sure you keep yourself healthy. This means taking regular breaks, eating healthy and getting enough sleep. Don’t let your body and mind suffer!
All-in-all, immersion courses in computing cannot fail to be of value to students. There are very few who will invest the time and effort to learn practical skills from a bootcamp and not develop themselves in many respects. However, the onus remains on each learner to put those skills to good use.