Coding bootcamps are a popular option nowadays for learning to code and getting a job. Let's go over the pros and cons of coding bootcamps. But first...
What is a coding bootcamp?
Coding bootcamps emerged in the US in the last decade as the growth of the tech industry meant there was much greater demand for software engineers. There are now coding bootcamps all over the world. In a coding bootcamp you learn to code in a relatively short period, from 3-6 months. Some coding bootcamps may last for up to a year but this is not the norm.
The aim of a coding bootcamp is to get you up to speed quickly by concentrating lots of learning into a short period. You are often expect to learn the basics of coding such as HTML and CSS before you start the course. You will learn enough in this short period to qualify for a junior position as a software engineer.
Coding bootcamps either charge students a flat free or what is called an Income Share Agreement (ISA). An ISA means you only pay for your coding bootcamp when you earn a certain salary level. Most coding bootcamps were originally taught in-person. However, since the Covid 19 outbreak in 2019 most are now available online as well.
The benefits of coding bootcamps
Going to a coding bootcamp has many advantages over learning on your own so let's go over each one in turn.
You can ask the teacher for help
The best coding bootcamps have experienced software developers who have industry experience. This means they will be able to answer every question you have and share what they have learned on the job. Asking questions as a beginner developer online can be hard - certain websites can take a harsh attitude to "dumb" questions. Whereas your teachers at coding bootcamps are paid to answer your queries.
Coding bootcamps will help you get hired
Coding bootcamps are incentivized to get you a job - the more students who get hired, the better the course looks to future applicants and the more money they can make. Many coding bootcamps have a dedicated Hiring Officer whose job is to make sure you get hired. They will help prepare you for interviews, introduce you to employers and work on your CV or resumé.
If you are paying with an ISA then the coding bootcamp is even more incentivised to make sure you get hired! Because if you don't get hired, they won't make any money. Some bootcamps also get paid by local employers for supplying them with trained developers so that's another incentive for them to teach you well.
Matt learned to code in his 50s and got hired after learning with Manchester Codes
There is a ready-made curriculum
One of the tricky things about learning to code on your own is deciding what languages to study and what resources to use. A coding bootcamp will take care of that for you. This means it's someone else's job to decide what you learn and how to shape the curriculum. You just have to take the course and study hard. The best coding bootcamps work with employers to determine what they should be teaching. Unfortunately, as the world of software development moves fast, some coding courses you can buy online may quickly become out of date.
Check out how Willem went from being a photographer to a developer
There are other students
Lots of people prefer to learn things in a social environment. Just as you might prefer doing a run with your friends instead of on your own, coding can be easier when you do it with other people. Your classmates can help you if you're stuck, inspire you to persevere or even just be around to talk to and bond with while you are coding. As a professional software developer you will need to learn to work with others so many coding bootcamps simulate this by providing tasks requiring team-work.
For example, Enyel Sequeira enjoyed learning to code with Practicum by Yandex as he was around other people in the same situation.
There is a deadline
A key advantage of a bootcamp is that there is a structure and deadline for finishing the course. Sure, that means there is a lot of work for you but it also means you can't slack off and get lazy. When you learn to code on your own there is no-one telling you to come to class, to complete an assignment etc. So it's a lot easier to give up or procrastinate outside of a coding bootcamp environment. Without a deadline it can be easy to slow your learning pace way down.
You can benefit from a bootcamp's brand
Just like universities, bootcamps are building brands and reputations that employers trust. If Google has hired a graduate from a bootcamp , and you go to this bootcamp as well you're more likely to get hired. Once employers know what to expect from a bootcamp's graduates they learn to trust the brand. Indeed, some tech companies have now removed their graduate schemes and simply hire a local bootcamp's graduates as this means they don't have to spend time, money and resources training people to learn to code. Some job adverts also specify that they will only accept applicants from certain bootcamps.
Disadvantages of coding bootcamps
Needless to say, bootcamps cost a lot more than learning on your own. Some coding bootcamps in the US may charge up to $15,000. While ISAs mean you don't pay anything until you are hired, you may more in the long run than if you had paid a flat fee at the start. Some people fund their coding bootcamp places with loans, which can also provide expensive in the long run. It's also considerably cheaper to learn to code on your own.
No choice over curriculum
Most companies are geared towards getting hired, not building a business
If you dream of starting your own business, a coding bootcamp may not be the best option for you. Most coding bootcamps are geared towards connecting you with companies and getting you a job as a Junior Software Engineer. However, if you don't like the idea of working for someone else and wanted to start your own company, this may be a bad fit for you. That said, there's nothing stopping you from learning to code at a bootcamp and then forming your own business.
Read how Pat Walls who makes $40k/m with his Starter Story website learned to code at a bootcamp.
Coding bootcamps can be a great choice for people who want to get their first job as a Software Engineer. Bootcamps are heavily incentivized to helping you get hired. Concentrating lots of learning into a short space of time and having a structure and a deadline should also speed up your learning progress compared to working on your own. You also get the camaraderie of learning with others and having a qualification from a recognised brand.
All these benefits do come at a price though. However, if you are more of a lone wolf type of person who loves learning on their own or who wants to create a business instead of working as an employee, a coding bootcamp may not be the best option.