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Is a coding bootcamp worth it? The answer is: it depends.
Update: I added a video from my YouTube Channel.
I am a successful coding bootcamp graduate. I know that not everyone had the same experience as me, or has had the same level of success that I’ve reached. Some of it is personal to them, but some of it is due to the fact that they NEVER should have attended a boot camp.
Here is a high-level overview of the coding bootcamp I attended:
- Location: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill & Trilogy Education Services
- Cost: $10K
- Program Structure: Part-time, In-person classes
- Duration: November 2016 – May 2017
- When/How Often: Tuesday and Thursdays, 6:30pm – 9:30pm, and Saturdays, 9am – 2pm
Whether or not a coding bootcamp is worth it for you is going to depend on several factors. To start, let’s take money out of the equation. We will come back to cost shortly, but let’s discuss whether or not you have what it takes and then look at how cost plays a role in your decision.
1. Why are you interested in a coding bootcamp?
This may seem like a silly question, but if you can’t honestly answer it then a coding bootcamp is not worth it. Do you hate your current job? Are you interested in technology? Do you want a job where you are constantly learning and growing? These are all great reasons to be interested in a career in web development.
If you are interested in going to a coding bootcamp because you think you’re going to walk out of the program making 6-figures, then a bootcamp is NOT right for you. Your motivation has to be more than monetary, or this will be a waste of your time and money.
Okay. Now that you have your “why”, let’s explore if a coding bootcamp is worth it based on your skill level.
2. What is your current experience and skill level as it relates to coding?
If you answered “no” to all of these questions, then I would say that a coding bootcamp is not worth it for you at this moment. If you haven’t explored any of these concepts yet, go out and explore the free resources that are available for you, and revisit your interest in a coding bootcamp.
In my situation, it actually took me a few years to decide if this was something I was interested in pursuing as a full-time career. I joined Girl Develop It when I lived in Houston, Texas and took a basic HTML and CSS course in January 2015. I took a few more classes before moving back to North Carolina in 2016. While I was working my other jobs, I still continued to tinker with HTML and CSS on my own.
Now let me tell you about a few of my classmates in the bootcamp.
Some of them did not know how to turn on their machines. Some of them could barely send an email. And this does not mean that these individuals are lacking intelligence, it simply means that their intelligence is not well-suited for a coding bootcamp.
The important takeaway here is, to be honest with yourself about your skillset.
If you do not consider yourself to be at least moderately tech-savvy, I don’t think a coding bootcamp is worth it for you. That is why I strongly encourage you to explore the free resources available before making the investment in a coding bootcamp.
So…you have a strong interest in web development and you feel confident that you have the technical prowess to be successful. What’s next?
3. Can I learn to code on my own?
If you can learn to code on your own, you do not need to attend a coding bootcamp. Do you learn well on your own? Do you do better with structure?
For me, I like deadlines and structure. At the time, I wasn’t aware of all the amazing tutorials and resources available. I didn’t know where to start. I encourage you to try to learn on your own first, and then reconsider attending a bootcamp.
Here are some great resources for you to start – I have used them and continue to use them today:
- Free Code Camp
- LinkedIn Learning – Your company might be subscribed, so this may be free for you!!
- Level Up Tutorials / Scott Tolinski
- Wes Bos
- Syntax Podcast
- YouTube – so many tutorials!!
Not all of these resources are free, but they are very affordable and certainly less expensive than a coding bootcamp. Also, this list is just the tip of the iceberg. A quick Google search will provide a ton more. I’m hoping to have some tutorials up soon as well.
4. Can I afford to attend a coding bootcamp?
In my opinion, the answer to this question is a bit more complicated. I’m going to tell you about my experience and be very transparent about my salary over the course of the last few years.
Part-time versus Full-Time
When I decided I was going to go to a coding bootcamp I knew I could not afford to quit my job. I would have to find one that was offered part-time and in the evenings, so I could continue working.
Some of my friends attended a different bootcamp and could not work during that time. They had to take out loans for their living expenses and the cost of the bootcamp. Depending on where you are in your life, this may or may not be an option for you.
Cost of Coding Bootcamps
Next, I had saved up and was able to cover the cost of the coding bootcamp without having to take out a loan. I would highly recommend finding a coding bootcamp that allows financing with a low interest rate, or one where you can pay for it with a personal loan that has a low interest rate.
Some coding bootcamps have a job placement guarantee, but I’m not familiar with how that process works. For the sake of this article, I am not going to elaborate on that possibility. However, if anyone knows about this process, please leave a comment on this post.
Current Job versus Future Job
Before I made my final decision, I really thought through what the next year was going to look like with my career. At the time, I was an account manager making $75k/year with benefits. I decided that if an opportunity for a paid internship came up while I was in the bootcamp that I would take it. It was worth the pay cut to get my foot in the door.
In my eyes, a few months of sacrifice as an intern was worth it to have a job that I really wanted.
After about 4 months into the program, I took a paid internship making $20/hour (I think this is the equivalent of $40k/year). That’s a big ass pay cut, however I’d saved up waiting for this day to come. That is the only way I was able to take such a significant pay cut.
After 3 months at my internship, I got the opportunity to be Junior Full-Stack Developer at a local start-up. I got the job and started at $55k/year with benefits. A year later, I got a promotion to $75k/year.
I changed jobs after two years at the start-up to an enterprise, contract job making $52/hour. At my current job, I making over $100k plus benefits. I went from $40k/year in March 2017 to over $100k in March 2020.
I’m not telling you this to brag. I’m telling you this to set expectations.
You are not going to make the big bucks right out of a coding bootcamp. If you do, it’s because you’re a great developer and you put in the work. And you’re probably really fucking smart!
Regardless, attending a bootcamp does not guarantee six figures.
Let me say that one more time… Attending a coding bootcamp is not a guarantee for anything. Not a job. Not a well-paying job. As is the case with pretty much everything in life, you have to be willing to work hard. If you want to be a web developer, you have to be prepared for technologies to change and to learn new things constantly.
Is a coding bootcamp worth it?
Only YOU know the answer to this question. I hope that this post was helpful for you! I have a lot of opinions on this topic, so if you have questions or would like me to elaborate further on anything, please let me know.
Want a second opinion? Here’s a video from another bootcamp grad.