How to Choose a Bootcamp

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Updated September 16, 2022

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Interested in kickstarting a new career but not sure how to choose a coding bootcamp? This guide can help you evaluate your options.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

People working on computers in computer lab Credit: Maskot / Maskot / Getty Images

Coding bootcamps provide short, intensive training that prepares graduates to pursue entry-level computer science jobs.

A bootcamp usually takes significantly less time and money to complete than a traditional college degree. A 2017 survey found that the average bootcamp lasts 16.5 weeks, compared to four years for a typical bachelor's degree. Bootcamp admission requirements are typically less stringent and welcome people without coding backgrounds.

This page explains how to choose a coding bootcamp that can prepare you to achieve your goals. Keep reading to learn about factors to consider when choosing a bootcamp, including program focus, format, cost, and timeline.

Choosing a Bootcamp That Aligns With Your Goals

Bootcamps offer education in many technical fields. Identifying a bootcamp that can help you accomplish your specific career goals is important. Keep reading for tips about how to choose a coding bootcamp that is right for you.

Technical Disciplines

There are many different types of coding bootcamps. Popular programs include:

  • Web development
  • Data science
  • User experience/user interface (UX/UI)
  • Software engineering
  • Cybersecurity
  • Mobile app development
  • Python
  • JavaScript

Some bootcamps offer training in other specific programming languages like C++, Ruby on Rails, and Java. Choosing a bootcamp focused on a specific programming language allows enrollees to develop in-depth, specialized skills to help them stand out in the job market.

Identifying your career goals can help you choose a bootcamp in the right discipline. Someone who wants to apply for a job as a software engineer should look for a software engineering bootcamp. A student who wants to become a data scientist can seek out bootcamps focusing on data science.


Programming Languages and Frameworks

Schools offer bootcamps covering many different programming languages and frameworks. People use programming languages to translate instructions for computers to understand them. A framework is a reusable tool that programmers can use to support and speed up the development process.

Some of the most popular programming languages and frameworks include:

  • Python
  • HTML
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • C#
  • C++
  • Ruby on Rails/Ruby
  • PHP
  • SQL

Learners can choose which language best suits their needs by researching the requirements for their desired jobs. Make sure that any potential bootcamp you consider covers the programming languages or frameworks commonly used in your desired career path. For example, entry-level software engineers usually need to understand Python, Java, or JavaScript.

Once you master your first programming language, it can be easier to pick up others.

Top Online Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

Choosing a Bootcamp That Aligns With Your Learning Style

Learners will encounter bootcamps with different schedules and delivery formats. Explore our ideas for how to choose a coding bootcamp that aligns with your learning style and needs below.

Program Formatting and Location

Another factor to consider when choosing a bootcamp is program format and location. Schools offer in-person, online, and hybrid bootcamps. Some learners prefer in-person bootcamps for the traditional learning environment and structure, focus, and accountability afforded by face-to-face meetings.

An online bootcamp offers flexibility and convenience that full-time working professionals often appreciate. A hybrid option can offer the best of both worlds.

Some students can attend local bootcamps. A bootcamp in your area can offer benefits like the chance to attend meet-ups or group study sessions, along with extra in-person help and tutoring from instructors. Local bootcamps can also lead to more internship and job opportunities if you plan to live in the same place after graduation.

However, attending a coding bootcamp in a tech hub city can also offer networking and job benefits. Some of the best tech hubs to consider relocating to include Washington D.C.; Austin, Texas; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California; Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas; and Atlanta, Georgia.


Program Pacing and Timeline

Students can attend full-time, part-time, and self-paced bootcamps. Each format affects the timeline of when you will complete your bootcamp. Full-time bootcamp participants can finish the most quickly, with part-time students taking longer. Self-paced programs offer more flexibility and freedom in designing a timeline.

Program length can vary significantly among schools. A 2017 survey found that the average bootcamp takes 16.5 weeks to complete. Full-time bootcamps took 13.1 weeks on average, and part-time programs lasted an average of 24.3 weeks.

Full-time workers or people with other personal commitments may prefer part-time or self-paced options. Students who can devote all of their time to a bootcamp may prefer a full-time schedule that allows them to finish as quickly as possible.


Other Key Considerations

In addition to assessing your own preferences and needs, make sure to evaluate cost, student outcomes, and support services.

Cost and Financing

Cost and financing options can make a significant impact when choosing a bootcamp. The cost of a coding bootcamp varies depending on factors like program length, format, location, and focus.

The 2017 coding bootcamp survey found that comprehensive career preparation programs found the typical price range was $7,500-$13,950. Full-time bootcamps typically charge higher tuition rates than part-time programs.

Evaluate your budget to figure out the programs you can afford. Factor in tuition, technology fees, required textbooks, and travel expenses, if applicable. Also, consider your potential salary after graduation to calculate a projected return on investment.

If you cannot afford to pay for your bootcamp upfront, look into available student loans, scholarships, and grants. Other financing options for bootcamps may include deferred tuition, payment plans, and income share agreements.


Career Services

When choosing a bootcamp, research the school's availability of career services and other types of student support. Some coding bootcamps offer minimal resources, while others provide extensive support options.

Some bootcamps offer resume-writing advice, career development workshops, and mock interviews. Other types of support may include access to job boards, help with setting up internships, and job placement services.

Some bootcamps feature money-back guarantees that offer tuition refunds or loan cancellation for students who can not land appropriate jobs or salaries after graduation within a certain amount of time. Specific terms for money-back guarantees vary by program, so always make sure to read the fine print closely.


Student Outcomes

When choosing a bootcamp, it can be beneficial to look up student outcomes. Student outcomes include considerations like graduation rate, average salary, and time to employment after finishing the program.

Unlike traditional universities and colleges, bootcamps are not accredited. This makes it even more necessary for prospective enrollees to do their research into this issue.

Some bootcamps share student outcomes data on their websites. Bootcamps will sometimes report outcomes through the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting. If you do not find student outcome information online, try contacting the bootcamp provider directly to ask for data.

Top Online Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

Questions About Choosing a Bootcamp

How do I choose the right coding bootcamp?

Find a program that focuses on a technical discipline and the programming languages that align with your career goals. Think about cost, career services, and student outcomes. Also, consider program format and timeline when choosing a bootcamp.

Should I choose a coding bootcamp or computer science degree?

Choosing a bootcamp typically takes less time and money than earning a computer science degree. However, some jobs require or prefer applicants who possess traditional college degrees. Weigh the pros and cons of each option to make your choice.

Are coding bootcamps a good choice for beginners?

Yes. Most coding bootcamps welcome beginners and usually have very minimal prerequisites or none at all. New students without any previous background in computer science may need to complete prep courses before enrolling.

Is it hard to get into a coding bootcamp?

Not usually. The requirements for getting into coding bootcamps are usually not restrictive and welcome people without related experience or education. If you can demonstrate a good work ethic and desire to learn coding, you can probably get into a bootcamp.


Reviewed by:

Portrait of Dana Alqaq

Dana Alqaq

Dana Alqaq comes from a diverse and well-rounded background focusing on IT, cybersecurity, and HR. She is a corporate recruiter in northern Virginia for a government sector and holds bachelor's degrees in cybersecurity and business management.

Dana has an extensive background in higher education with over five years of experience, as well as 15 years of experience in customer service. She stays up to date on changes in the tech industry through educational courses and training programs.

Alqaq is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

Page last reviewed May 6, 2022

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