The complete guide to finding the right programming bootcamp

Everything you need to make an educated decision

Photo by Chris Ried on Unsplash

In a day and age where technology is becoming increasingly prevalent in our society, bootcamps have become the next hot trend.

Long gone are the days where growing adults feel the desire to go to medical school for a decade or more to become a doctor, all the while racking up tens or hundreds of thousands in debt. No, in this day and age we have trained ourselves to hone in on what takes the absolute least amount of time and brings the largest rewards.

Of course, the rewards are usually thought of as more money or more freedom. Thus the concept of programming boot camps was born, and in just 7 years it has become over a $300 million industry in North America alone.

Having gone through a bootcamp myself, I can assuredly say that it has been one of the best decisions of my life to date (right up there with overcoming this problem). But after coming out on the other end way ahead of where I thought I would be, I can’t help but notice some of my peers that attended along with me didn’t end up so well. Some of them are still looking for a job about 6 months later, some didn’t even finish the 3-month bootcamp in the first place.

I am not naïve enough to think that my class was the only bootcamp every where people gave up and dropped out. So I feel extremely confident making the following statement:

Bootcamps, and a career in the tech field, are not for everybody.

It is very important to realize that while there are many positives to investing in a bootcamp and risking failure, there are also some strong negatives. You need to sit down for a couple weeks or months and see if it is really a path you want to go down. Please take my advice and look into some free resources online (freecodecamp, udemy, Harvard CS50) and dive into programming to see if it is something that even remotely interests you.

If you don’t like it on day 1, that’s fine and even normal, but commit to just 30–60 minutes every day for 3–4 weeks of programming. Generally, that is a good amount of time to figure out if you like doing something, and if you are committed to making time to program every day then there is a much higher chance you will commit to seeing a bootcamp through to the end.

Having said that, if you do some soul-searching and come to the realization that a bootcamp is a path you want to go down, allow me to be your guide. I will show you the way from my own personal experience, but it will be up to you to make your own decisions. My advice is only as good as my experience, so take it with a grain of salt.

I have compiled a list of what I believe to be five of the most popular bootcamps, and graded them based on 5 criteria (and offered a couple questions you should dig deeper into):

  • Courses offered

These are the skills you will learn and the tracks you can take (Programming language, Engineering vs. Data Analysis vs. Digital Design etc.). Also, it would be wise to double check on what skills (programming languages) are in demand in the job market at your time of graduation. As of 2019, these are all good options to focus on.

  • Price

How much does it cost and are there any payment options? Is there a partnership with an institution to offer low interest loans?

  • Locations

Can you do classes remote or do you need to show up to a campus? Or can you do either?

  • Career support

What kind of resources and guidance do you get after graduating to help you find a job? After all getting a new job is the entire point of doing a bootcamp! Be sure to check on how long you get support for. Is it for 1 month? 3 months? Until you find a job?

  • Length of time it takes to complete

How long does it take and can you learn it on your own time?

Some factors will be more important to you than others, so feel free to skip around as you like. For me, I most heavily weighed price and cost, as I came from a career that didn’t leave me with a ton of money to throw around. It wasn’t an option for me to go for a very long period of time with no income.

Many of the bootcamps below offer courses that don’t include some kind of programming foundation, and for the purposes of this resource I have left them out. If you find yourself browsing through one of them and are suddenly interested in digital marketing, please feel free to do your own research and branch out, not limiting yourself to just programming.

Also please note that as with any good business practice, the criteria I have listed and provided below can and probably will change over time with these different bootcamps. As of this writing (January 2020), I have done my best to provide you with accurate information in which to base your decisions on. But like the savvy person you are, it is only normal that you will take what you see her and use it as a basis in which to go out and do your own research, to make your own decisions.

So without further ado let’s begin with the one I am most biased to, because it is the one I attended.

General Assembly

Courses offered:

Full time courses:

  • Software Engineering immersive
  • User Experience Design Immersive (UX/DI)
  • Data Science immersive

Part time courses:

  • Python
  • UX Design
  • Data analytics
  • Data science
  • Visual Design
  • Front-End Web Development
  • JavaScript Development
  • React Development

Within the full-time courses, the skills you learn include but are not limited to what is included in the part time offerings. For example, in the Engineering immersive, you will learn JS, React, and Front-End web development but also dive into Mongo/SQL and other databases, to encompass full stack development.

Similarly, in the full time Data Science courses you will learn python and other skills you need, and for the UX/UI you learn how to use photoshop and editing tools, as well as how to hone in on your creative process.

Price:

Full-time courses:

  • SE immersive: ~$13,000
  • UX/UI immersive: ~$13,500
  • Data Science Immersive: ~ $15,900

Part-time courses:

  • All of the on-campus courses are roughly $3,950 (obviously this can vary based on what city you are in)

GA also offers the option to finance tuition as you move through the program, or pay nothing until you are hired (Income Share Agreement). I would not recommend the Income Share Agreement, as you lose significantly more money as interest to GA as opposed to paying it all upfront or financing your own loans.

Locations:

  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Detroit
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Minneapolis
  • New York City
  • Orlando
  • Phoenix
  • Providence
  • Raleigh
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Stamford
  • Toronto
  • Washington D.C.
  • London
  • Paris
  • Singapore
  • Melbourne
  • Sydney

GA takes the cake for number of physical campuses, but they do offer the option to do the Software Engineering Immersive and part-time classes remotely.

Career Support:

General Assembly is nice enough to offer you career support for 3 months after you graduate, and for an hour or more every week you are in the bootcamp. This includes things like:

  • Job referrals
  • Interview practice
  • Resume crafting
  • Accountability to your job search process
  • Helping you formulate a job search process
  • Notifications on when and where local meetups are happening
  • How to go out and network to find yourself a job (sorry, you have to get uncomfortable and go meet people)

Length of time needed to complete the course:

General Assembly’s Immersives are about 12 weeks in length.

The part time courses range from 1–5 weeks, based on the material covered.

The online courses are about the same amount of time as the above listed on campus counterparts, however there is a flex option for the engineering immersive that spreads the course out over 6 months and you learn at your own pace.

On that note, it is important that you remember this is not easy material you are covering.

Engineering and programming are challenging disciplines, which is why people drop out. Having said that it is much easier to honor your commitment if you are in person with others in your same position, being led by instructors who are trained and know how to help you learn effectively.

If you want to succeed, I highly recommend committing to an in person immersive.

Flatiron school

Courses offered:

Full time courses:

  • Software Engineering immersive
  • User Experience Design Immersive (UX/DI)
  • Data Science immersive
  • Cybersecurity Analytics

Part time/remote courses:

  • Intro to Ruby
  • Intro to Javascript
  • Conding bootcamp prep
  • Data Science bootcamp prep
  • UX/UI Design bootcamp prep

It appears as though Flatiron prioritizes immersive bootcamps, thus the only real options for part time courses are geared towards the subjects and skills you learn in the immersives.

The main skills you will learn in each of these courses include but are not limited to: Javascript, Ruby, Python, and SQL.

Price:

Full-time courses:

  • SE immersive: ~$17,000
  • UX/UI immersive: ~$17,000
  • Data Science Immersive: ~ $17,000
  • Cybersecurity analytics: ~ $17,000

Part-time courses:

  • Online, self paced courses: $9,600
  • Online, full/part time immersives: $15,000
  • Bootcamp prep courses and introductory programs: Free

Flatiron school also offers you the option to finance your tuition, pay in full up front, or enroll in an Income Share Agreement.

Locations:

  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • Houston
  • New York City
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Washington D.C.
  • London

The above are for on campus immersives, and are located within WeWork co-working spaces (Hello free coffee!).

Career Support:

Flatiron will offer you career services beginning when you are roughly 75% done with your bootcamp. Career services include:

  • Resume refining
  • Job referrals via pre-existing relationships with hiring managers
  • Interview practice
  • Scheduling interviews
  • Continued access to a learning portal that allows graduates to keep building skills

Length of time needed to complete the course:

Software engineering/Data science immersive: 15 weeks

UX/UI Design immersive: 24 weeks

Cybersecurity analytics: 12 weeks

The online immersives give you the option of 5, 10, or 15 months.

The bootcamp prep and introductory courses span over either 30, 50, or 75 hours.

Thinkful

Courses offered:

Full time courses:

  • Software Engineering immersive
  • Data Science immersive
  • Data Analytics

Flex courses:

  • User Experience Design Immersive (UX/DI)
  • Software Engineering
  • Data Science
  • Data Analytics

Thinkful takes a simpler approach, offering relatively similar material between full/part time but at different paces.

Skills taught include but are not limited to: HTML, CSS, Javascript, React, Node, Github

Price:

Full-time courses:

  • SE immersive: ~$16,000
  • Data Analytics: ~$17,000
  • Data Science Immersive: ~ $17,000

Flex courses:

  • Software Engineering flex: $9,500
  • Data science flex: $7,990
  • Data analytics flex: $7,990
  • UX/UI flex: $8,586

Locations:

All Thinkful course are offered remote only.

I think this is a huge drawback because it is much harder to find a community of like minded individuals while putting your nose to the grindstone.

In addition, the benefits of being able to talk to and learn with others going through what you are going through is invaluable. Having others to vent to and bounce ideas off of was invaluable for me.

Career Support:

Thinkful has a mentor concept which I think it pretty neat and seems very helpful. Basically, you have a mentor that helps you through the course, teaches you what to prioritze, and structures your study plan.

You also have 6 months of a career coach that includes many of the perks listed for the above career coaching (interviewing/resume help, job referrals, etc.). It is important to note that the immersives take about 6 months, so you are essentially on your own after you graduate. Not the best approach in my opinion…

Length of time needed to complete the course:

Immersive programs:

The immersive programs seem to vary based on the subject, but plan on 16–26 weeks

Flex programs:

  • Software Engineering: 6 months
  • Data Science: 6 months
  • Data Analytics: 6 months

Ironhack

Courses offered:

Full time courses:

  • Web Development
  • UX/UI Design
  • Data Analytics

Super simple here, the full time courses include prep courses before you get started to teach you some fundamental concepts (algorithms, data structures, etc.)

Skills you will learn include but are not limited to: Javascript, HTML, CSS, Node, Express, React, API manipulation, and Mongo.

Price:

Full-time courses:

  • Web Development: ~$8,300
  • Data Analytics: ~$8,300
  • UX/UI: ~ $7,200

Locations:

  • Amsterdam
  • Barcelona
  • Berlin
  • Lisbon
  • Madrid
  • Mexico City
  • Miami
  • Paris
  • Sao Paulo

Ironhack is pretty neat in that they try to reach a global audience, and studying abroad is encouraged. They will give you guidance on where to find housing in the area and get situated.

Career Support:

Ironhack is similar to Thinkful in that you get a 1:1 mentor that will help guide you through the course, and get you unstuck (because you will be stuck multiple times, promise)

They will also prepare you for the job hunt, and offer a global network of referrals as well as global job fairs and career events you can attend.

Length of time needed to complete the course:

The UX/UI bootcamp is 9 weeks, while the others are closer to 26 weeks.

Turing

Courses offered:

Full time courses:

  • Front End Web-Development
  • Back End Web-Development

No part time courses are offered at Turing, but you do have the option to continue learning additional skills after your bootcamp.

Front-End skills include: Javascript, CSS, HTML, Node, React, Redux, Ruby

Back-End skills include: Ruby, Rails, Sinatra, PostgreSQL, Javascript, Express

Price:

Full-time courses:

  • Both the front and back end development courses consist of four modules, totaling to $20,000
  • Additional modules can be accessed for $2500 after you complete the first four modules

Turing also offers financing through institutions such as Sallie Mae, Climb, Meritize, or SkillsFund. They are also proud to accept the GI Bill from veterans or their family members. Take advantage of that if you can!

Locations:

The only physical location for Turing is in Denver, and they do not offer remote options.

It could be a commitment to relocate to Denver to complete your bootcamp and then move somewhere else (or stay, it is awesome!). However the average starting salary for Turing’s bootcamp grad is around 74k, so if you ask me being able to apply nationwide and move where you get a job seems like a no-brainer. Plus, you won’t be limited to job opportunities located only in the city you live in.

Career Support:

Turing offers career coaching that is similar to what you would expect (interview practice, resume crafting, etc.) throughout the duration of the program.

You can also take advantage of free mental health counseling, and 1:1 support for navigating finances, housing, and other barriers to enrollment or locating to Denver.

Length of time needed to complete the course:

The total time of Turing’s programs is 7 months, with the average graduate finding a job about 74 days after graduating.

There are unfortunately too many options to list here without causing you to feel overwhelmed by all of the possibilities and avenues. You can look through the 48 most popular ones right now here (yes, 48!)If you don’t take anything else away from this guide, take this:

Figure out why you want to have a career as a programmer, narrow down the criteria you need from a bootcamp, and go for it.

It could be either the best decision you make, or it could just be another passing thought that lingers and leaves you thinking “What if?”

If you feel stuck, confused, or lost please reach out to me and I will happily help you see the light at the end of the tunnel!

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Derek Hutson

Derek Hutson

83 Followers

Practicing Kaizen in Tech, Self-Improvement, and Jiu Jitsu.