Coding bootcamps are cropping up all over the place as the technology industry strengthens and prospects for technical professionals look more and more lucrative every day. Whether you’re just dipping your toe in the water or ready to dive right into a coding bootcamp, you should ask yourself these 5 questions to determine if this is the right path for you and your career.
1. How Much Do You Know Already? If even simple technical terminology still leaves you perplexed, it may be too soon to enroll in a coding bootcamp. Because the bootcamp format requires its students to hit the ground running, giving them little to no time to adjust to the rapid fire pace of learning, it’s easier to learn a few basics on your own first and then build upon that foundation in a coding bootcamp. On the flip side, if you have a decent amount of technical experience under your belt and you’re just trying to pivot or expand your knowledge, MOOCs and meetup groups may be a better, less intensive, less expensive way to go.
2. What is Your Learning Style? If you’re not ready to dedicate your attention solely to the coding bootcamp you attend, this may not be the right style of learning for you. Coding bootcamps are best suited for people who like to learn through hands on experience and who don’t have many personal demands or distractions that will take their focus away from the expensive, weeks-long program they’ve enrolled in. While coding bootcamps take less time to complete than a traditional degree, they are incredibly time intensive while they’re taking place and there are other, better options if you need to move slower.
3. What Do You Hope to Get Out of it? If you have a general idea of what you’re trying to accomplish, you’ll have an easier time getting through the strenuous demands of a coding bootcamp. And, if you have a career plan in mind or a career path you’d like to follow (it doesn’t need to be concrete), this will help guide you, motivate you, and keep you on track when the coding bootcamp inevitably becomes challenging, time consuming, and a little different than what you may have expected.
4. Can You Afford It? Tuition at a traditional university certainly isn’t cheap but coding bootcamps aren’t exactly pocket friendly either. According to Course Report, the average tuition is about $11,451 in the United States. Ideally, you’ll earn a great salary down the road once you’re a technical professional but covering those costs up front can be challenging. A great, affordable alternative to this is to enroll in an online coding school or take MOOC’s and attend meet-ups, teaching yourself and working on side projects along the way.
5. Have You Factored in The Downside? One aspect of coding bootcamps that a lot of prospective enrollees don’t know (because the bootcamps themselves won’t advertise this) is that there are a lot of companies who hesitate to hire technologists fresh out of coding bootcamps. The experience level doesn’t always equate to what a traditional college graduate might have because many graduates with a B.A. or M.A. in Computer Science or a related field have had several years to take internships and learn a variety of languages. And while you have probably learned faster than they ever could have in your coding bootcamp, employers won’t always give the two learning methods the same weight and may prefer to hire people with traditional degrees. Look at ads for the kinds of jobs you’d be applying to after the coding bootcamp and see how many specifically say they prefer not to hire people right out of coding bootcamps. Additionally, you should vet your coding bootcamp to make sure it’s reputable. Some coding bootcamps even offer job offer guarantees that may work in your favor to counteract the potential downside on your resume.
Enrolling in a coding bootcamp is a big commitment for your time, your wallet, your brain, and your future career. Ask yourself these 5 essential questions before you officially enroll to know if it’s the right path for you to pursue.