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This Is How That Coding Bootcamp Will Impact Your Career

Pondering taking one of those intense short courses to learn to code? A new report offers the low-down on what to expect.
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If you're looking to make a massive leap forward in your career, then everyone from top VCs, and successful founders, to NBA stars and even politicians agree--you should learn to code. Predictably, in response to this mania for teaching more people to program (there are dissenters, by the way), a host of short, intensive bootcamps have sprung up promising to do just that in record time.

Designed to ready you for a programming gig (or help you become a better prepared founder) in only eight to twelve weeks, there are dozens of such programs available everywhere from Nashville to New York. But attending one is obviously far from cost free. Not only do you have to dedicate months of your life to learning something that is, after all, really quite hard, but the experience also generally comes with a five-digit price tag. Is it worth it?

Course Report, which compares these programs, released a report recently to help individuals answer that question. To offer a complete picture of who's attending these bootcamps and how they're faring after graduation, Course Report surveyed 432 people who graduated from one of 48 full-time programming schools located in the U.S. or Canada.

Post-Program Employment

What did they find? Those who complete these programs tend to do pretty well afterwards. Though only a small minority of students attended these programs with the goal of becoming a start-up founder (just eight percent), for those looking simply to boost their employability and earnings working in technical fields, the bootcamps seem to succeed. Graduates saw a 44 percent increase in salary after completing the programs, with 75 percent of graduates reporting they found a job requiring their new skills post-graduation (only five percent worked as programmers before attending). Fourteen percent were still unemployed as of the survey.

Who Attends

If those numbers intrigue you, who would your fellow students be if you decided to take the plunge and enroll? Course Report found most students aren't fresh-faced youths, but instead professionals with an average of six years of work experience. The average age is 29 and everyone responding to the surveyhad at least some college under their belts.

These bootcamps may offer some advantages for women looking to gain tech skills--they're doing better on the gender diversity front that traditional university computer science programs. Thirty-eight percent of attendees are women, while colleges award just 14.5 percent or so of bachelor's degrees in the field to women. Many of the programs offer scholarships to women, which may contribute to this more balanced ratio.

By other measures these programs still have work to do, however. Just one percent of attendees are African American, with whites and Asian Americans making up the vast majority of students.

The Bottom Line

The report confirms that these schools don't come cheap--the average tuition was $10,000--but they do seem to be effective preparation for a red hot job market. Most schools also provide help placing students in jobs, the report found. And students seemed happy with the experience. When asked to rate their satisfaction on a scale of one to ten, the collective answer was a quite healthy 8.1.

No wonder these schools, although a relatively new phenomenon, are already expected to to rake in $59 million in tuition this year.

Are you at all tempted by the idea of a coding bootcamp?

Last updated: Aug 8, 2014

JESSICA STILLMAN

Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.




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