Last Updated 12/7/2023
Over the last decade, coding bootcamps have risen in popularity, with nearly 60,000 people graduating from programs in 2022. However, there are many misconceptions about coding bootcamps, who should attend one, the cost versus the benefit of enrolling, and more. The truth is that a coding bootcamp can provide great opportunities, but there are many factors to consider when deciding to pursue this type of education. In this blog, we’ll explore the costs and benefits of coding bootcamps to help you determine whether it’s the right choice for you.
Are Coding Bootcamps Worth It?
Coding bootcamps can be a great way to learn valuable programming skills, grow your network, and help you land a high-paying tech job. However, all potential bootcamp students should look at the total costs and benefits of a bootcamp experience and decide if it’s worth the chance to change careers and pursue a career in tech. To help you decide whether bootcamp is right for you, we’ve spoken with applicants, students, and alumni to understand the benefits and costs of attending a coding bootcamp.
Coding Skills Acquired From Bootcamp
Before we analyze the costs and benefits of enrolling in a coding bootcamp, it’s important to understand what skills you can gain from the experience.
Each coding bootcamp has a different curriculum, but typically you’ll cover key topics like:
Development libraries and frameworks
You’ll also work with in-demand technologies like:
Git and GitHub
HTML and CSS
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The Benefits of Attending a Coding Bootcamp
1. In-Demand Skills in Less Time
The next big question after “Are coding bootcamps worth it?” is always “Can’t I just teach myself?” And while there are plenty of (often free) resources for self-study, that method isn’t always the most efficient. It takes an inordinate amount of time and self-discipline to learn by yourself—and while many people may think they can do it, it gets discouraging fast, and it winds up taking a surprising amount of effort to stay motivated. Having that network of instructors, experienced developers, and peers that coding bootcamps give you access to can help you get over hurdles faster than you could alone. Coding bootcamps are also incredibly intensive, with many requiring students to commit 40-plus hours a week to their software engineering program. The rigor and intensity help you quickly learn and maintain the most relevant skills.
2. A Ready-Made Professional Network
When you’re just starting out in a new industry, it can be really daunting to build relationships, and it usually takes years to develop a network organically. Even as you make connections, it’s really hard to make the deep, long-lasting personal and professional connections that will enable you to build a career. When you attend a coding bootcamp, though, you surround yourself with like-minded, motivated people who can help you both during bootcamp and for years to come—and whom you will be able to support as well. All the bootcamp students in a given program are in the same boat—all totally overwhelmed but also all driven to succeed and ready to lift others up to ensure success for everyone.
3. Career Counseling and Job Search Help
According to Career Karma, the average job placement rate for coding bootcamps is 71%, surpassing computer science program graduates. You’ll find that coding bootcamp rates can be significantly higher because of the rigorous curriculum and career coaching services offered.
That’s due in part to the strong relationships coding bootcamps build with recruiters and employers and in part to the experienced career coaches bootcamps employ to help students craft industry-standard resumes, optimize their LinkedIn profiles, build good networking habits, navigate the hiring process, and more.
Looking for a job in tech is different from pursuing a job in another industry, and a good bootcamp will help you navigate that process.
The Costs of Attending a Coding Bootcamp
Now that you know the value coding bootcamps can provide, let’s take a look at the associated costs, including tuition, opportunity costs, and social costs.
One of the most important costs to consider is tuition.
Costs vary across coding bootcamps, but according to Course Report, bootcamps cost an average of $14,000 for anywhere between 6 and 28 weeks, depending on what works best for your schedule.
While that amount is significant, it can still cost you less than a computer science degree or master’s program—for a more practical skill set and career services to go with it.
Course Report also found that the average cost of a four-year computer science degree is $163,140. Yet, new computer science graduates with a year or less of experience only make $72,163 (Glassdoor, 2023). Meanwhile, a Course Report survey discovered the average post-bootcamp salary was around $70,000.
This means that for almost $150,000 less in education costs, bootcamp grads can end up earning roughly the same as computer science grads.
2. Opportunity Costs
This idea that we touched on earlier—of the opportunity costs involved when you try to save money on your education but end up missing out on getting a higher-paying job sooner—also applies in the other direction.
It’s going to take you around three months to complete bootcamp, and possibly another several to find a job, so the opportunity cost is the amount of money you’ll miss out on making while you’re a coding bootcamp student and then afterward, as you look for work.
And it isn’t only financial—you’ll miss out on the experience in the workforce that you would have gotten were you to continue on your current path.
That’s actually a big concern for many bootcamp hopefuls: You’re leaving a field you already have experience in for one that’s totally new to you.
While most folks want to leave their current field, it can still be scary to think about missing out on nearly a year of additional professional growth in your current field in order to essentially start over in a new field.
3. Social Costs
Attending a bootcamp can mean putting your life on hold for several months to a year, which can be more difficult to manage if you have a family or other commitments.
While social costs might seem insignificant compared to financial concerns, having a strong support system is critical to your success at bootcamp.
Before you apply to a bootcamp, talk it over with those who are closest to you. Including them in the conversation can help set expectations up-front and help others know how to manage what will likely be a change in their lifestyle as well.
Being clear with your social network can avoid misunderstandings and emotional labor that will only make your bootcamp experience more difficult.
Your Undergraduate Degree Was Not a Waste of Time
So, what if you already have a college degree? Is enrolling in a coding bootcamp worth it? Whatever your degree, a coding education can be incredibly beneficial—and in some cases essential—to starting your career as a developer.
Many hiring managers still see a four-year college degree as the gold standard. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean hiring managers are looking for you to have a degree in the exact field you want to work in; they are more so looking to see that you have the wherewithal to complete a four-year program.
And we can’t ignore the pedigree factor: If you studied somewhere prestigious, hiring managers will likely be impressed. And then there’s the affinity effect, which gives you a leg up if your interviewer has an emotional connection to your school (they attended the same institution; their sister went there; a friend from high school ended up there—“Did you know him?”).
The life skills we learn in four years of college may be even more important than the technical skills you’ll learn during bootcamp. A recent study from LinkedIn found that 61% of professionals believe soft (transferable) skills are just as important as hard skills in the workplace. So you need the technical skills you’ll learn at bootcamp to prove to an interviewer that you’re qualified—but once you’ve done that, your college experience can help you stand out as a person and potential team member.
Attending a coding bootcamp after four years of undergraduate education in computer science doesn’t mean your degree isn’t valuable. It means technology is advancing, and the most in-demand coders are the ones who continue to learn even after college and work to stay at the forefront of the industry.
Similarly, attending a coding bootcamp after four years of undergraduate education in a field other than computer science doesn’t make your degreeany less valid, and you shouldn’t regret having earned it. You aren’t “giving up” on what you studied before; though you’ve chosen to focus on a new set of skills, everything you’ve learned till now has made you the person and the job candidate you are today.
How Coding Bootcamp Complements a College Degree
A college education, particularly one in computer science, will teach broad concepts you may not have a chance to learn elsewhere. But there is absolutely no substitute for hands-on learning. And that is what a lot of college courses can lack.
Many graduate with little tono practical experience orportfolio to show for it. Which isn’t ideal. Being able to show a series of projects or products you have contributed to can be more beneficial to your careerthan years of schooling.
Of course, you can learn to code and build a portfolio on your own, but as Fullstack Academy alum Shawn Wang points out, time is more important than money. A bootcamp helps you build the portfolio you need, and it can help you do so far more quickly and successfully than you would on your own.
But it’s not just a case of building a portfolio. Most bootcamp grads—especially those coming from totally different industries or who don’t have a computer science background—are going to need some career coaching to land their first jobs.
Many bootcamps weave career services into their curricula and will provide expert coaching on how to find jobs in the industry, how to build your resume, and how to interview successfully. Some programs even leverage their connections with companies to help you get your foot in the door.
Summing It Up
Coding bootcamps can be the fastest way to skill up for a job in software engineering and build a strong network of connections—plus they include career coaching that’s invaluable to anyone entering a new industry.
But all of that doesn’t come cheap. Tuition alone can cost a good amount—and that’s before factoring in cost-of-living expenses and the social toll an intense bootcamp experience can take.
If you’re serious about becoming a software developer and want to make that change ASAP, coding bootcamps are by far your best path to an informed, supported career transition.
The live online Fullstack Academy Software Engineering Immersive Bootcamp can prepare you for a rewarding career as a coder. Plus, we offer the Grace Hopper Program for women and non-binary students looking for a gender-allied experience. Start your application today!