Categories: Technology

Are Tech Boot Camps Really Worth It?

It might seem like your nerdy friends are heading off to war, but they’re just heading to boot camp. Tech boot camp courses range from a few days to several weeks or months, with the goal to turn students into future coders and data scientists.

With so many tech jobs in major demand — currently at 7.3M and counting, per USA Today — and tech camps becoming more popular than ever — especially for professionals looking to make a career switch — is the $10,000 price tag really worth it? We help answer that question by explaining the benefits of a tech boot camp.

What Happens At A Tech Boot Camp?

Boot camps are technical training programs that give you a crash course in the key programming skills that employers are looking for in specific jobs. The curriculum is fast-paced and immersive, delivering the fundamentals that you need to become proficient data scientist, developer or programmer.

Coding Boot Camp

It seems like coding is the nursing of the tech world. There is a major demand for web developers and software engineers, making it an attractive career switch for many. These positions also attract some of the highest wages in the country.

However, not many people have the time to go back to school to earn their computer science degree. This makes it difficult to find a diverse pool of tech talent, especially in a constantly evolving landscape.

Enter coding boot camps.

These intensive programs take the most relevant skills you would learn attaining a four-year computer science degree and focus on what employers are looking for. With a condensed time frame, they are normally designed around speed and high-impact learning.

At a coding boot camp, you’ll learn skills you need to become proficient in front-end and back-end programming. This full-stack normally includes HTML5, JavaScript, CSS3, user authentication and responsive design. You’ll get hands-on experience while working on projects and building a portfolio you can show prospective employers.

Data Science Boot Camp

For the third consecutive year, data scientists have been named by Glassdoor as having the Best Job in America. With a median base salary of $11,000 and a job satisfaction rate of 4.2 out of 5, it’s hard not to see why.

A data scientists main job is to solve problems and visualize trends. To do this, they need to have a deep understanding of both programming and hacking, as well as statistics, algorithms and communication. So, yeah, data scientists are pretty smart cookies.

This is where data science boot camp comes in. Attendees learn how to collect, analyze and visualize big data, and use their findings to solve complex real-world problems. Expect to master the fundamentals of data analytics and visualization through advanced Excel functions, front-end web visualization (i.e. HTML and Bootstrap), Python programming, machine learning, forecasting and more.

Is A Tech Boot Camp Right For You?

With the average course ranging from $9,000 – $17,000, it pays to exercise caution before diving in to one of these camps. Consider your career goals. Do you want to become a full-fledged web developer, or do you just want to boost your current skill set?

If you’re looking to make a career switch but don’t want to go back to school, boot camps can be a great way to build your portfolio and learn the essentials you need to gain an entry-level position. These camps focus on in-demand skills and teaching students the programs that employers are actually looking for.

Make sure that you’re ready for the time requirements and fast-paced environment of a boot camp. These accelerated programs can be challenging and are often not designed for complete beginners. In addition to regularly-scheduled classes, expect to dedicate hours to working on side projects, studying, attending meet-ups and participating in workshops. The demands can be tough to balance, especially if you still plan on working while going through camp.

Also remember that while you’ll be acquiring a new skill set, you’ll still need to work to land a job. This means putting in the time to send out resumes and cover letters, go on interviews, and secure that high-paying tech gig.

Going With The Self-Taught Path

If you’re interested in learning more about coding or data science in order to improve your career, but not make a true switch, you might be better off self-learning with online resources like Treehouse, Khan Academy and Codewars. There are plenty of success stories about people who taught themselves how to code or crunch big data. Of course, this route takes a great deal of self-discipline, and can take longer than an intensive three-month course.

As a negative, you’ll be missing out on the one-on-one time that boot camps offer. Attendees spend a lot of time working on projects and learning together, networking with others in the industry, and receiving individualized attention from instructors. Depending on your learning style, it can be invaluable to have access to FaceTime with mentors.

With the continuing shortage of tech talent amongst top employers, it looks like the popularity of boot camps might continue to rise. While they can be a great way for newcomers to break into a growing industry, they’re not for everyone. Before dropping some serious cash, make sure to vet your prospective camp and make sure the curriculum lines up with your career goals.

Good luck, nerds!

Lead image via Getty

Raven Brajdic

In anticipation of the impending robot takeover, Raven Brajdic covers tech and lifestyle for Knew Money. Before writing about our bionic despots, she represented them as a publicist for multiple national and local technology, consumer and lifestyle brands.

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Raven Brajdic

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