Editor's pick: Originally published June 24.
Coding boot camps, new alternative venues for instruction in building websites and managing digital commerce, are expected to see new growth this year, according to a June 23 survey by Course Report, a San Francisco-based website and source of intelligence about coding boot camps.
"We surveyed a total of 91 U.S. and Canada-based coding schools, commonly referred to as boot camps or accelerated learning programs," said Liz Eggleston, Course Report's co-founder. Of those boot camps that received surveys, 88 completed them for a response rate of 96.7%. Graduation figures were self-reported by the respondents. As of June 1, there are coding boot camps in 69 U.S. Cities and 34 states.
Course Report concluded that the coding boot camp market will grow to an estimated 17,966 graduates in 2016, up from 10,333 in 2015. By way of a comparison, Course Report estimates that some 61,000 computer science undergraduates will be produced by U.S. universities this year.
To qualify for the survey—and be counted as a boot camp--a school must offer full-time, in-person instruction of 40 or more hours of classroom time per week; not be degree-granting through an accredited college or university, provide coding-specific curriculum with a focus on full stack web development, mobile Development or front-end web development; and be based in the United States or Canada. A separate report will examine schools specializing in product development, data science, design or marketing.
Tuition can range from free to $21,000 for a course that runs 13 weeks on average. 5.2% of schools in the survey cost under $5,000; 24% ranged from $5,000 to $9,999. The majority, 54.2%, charged between $10,000 and $14,999, while 13.5% will run you $15k and up. Six schools (3.1%), including App Academy and Grace Hopper Academy offer deferred tuition, where students pay between 18 and 22.5% of salary for one to three years after graduation instead of upfront tuition. The average boot camp tuition works out to $11,641.
Boot camp graduates are going to be competing with engineers with four-year degrees. Given that they're not diverted by courses in philosophy, foreign languages, life sciences and the like, they're also likely to log more time studying computer science.
"There are both pros and cons to the coding boot camp route," said Nonso Maduka, of NerdWallet's growth and new markets team and formerly vice president of Citigroup's mortgage trading division. "It can be a faster route to picking up a desired skill but students looking at his option need to make sure it provides the sufficient base of knowledge required for their careers choices in both the near and the long term."
Some boot camps have begun to make employment guarantees to distinguish themselves from the competition. San Francisco-based Bloc notes on its website, "Most coding boot camps don't guarantee you'll find a jobs...and many that do don't guarantee a real salary." On its website, Bloc singles out New York City-based Thinkful for not having a minimum salary guarantee and General Assembly, Dev Boot Camp and Hack Reactor for not having guarantees at all. Bloc, meanwhile, claims its 2,000-hour software engineer track is superior to the 500 hours of instruction from garden variety boot camps, and offers a tuition refund if people finishing its program don't have $60k job offers within 120 days of completion. The notion of a guaranteed job may be channeling a trade school mentality that seems to be at odds with this New Wave, New Age, break-the-mold undertaking.
So are coding boot camps becoming the new law school, even though they involve a fraction of the cost? As with wannabe attorneys of 20 years ago—or now--perhaps prospective coders who are only in it for the money are at the greatest risk. Perhaps mindful of those pitfalls, Seattle-based Coding Dojo touts its claim to having turned away prospective students.
"While a job — even a six-figure job — is possible right after graduation, nothing in life is a sure guarantee," said Katie Bouwkamp, Bellevue, Wash.-based director of public relations in her company blog. "In fact, at Coding Dojo we've turned away prospective students if we know they have those expectations."
She cited two reasons. "First, to be successful in our program you need to really, seriously, love coding and learning — not just the idea of an immediate six-figure salary. The 12-week program is intensive, and if you aren't in it for the right reason, it's going to be difficult to succeed. Second, our goal isn't to just help you get your first coding gig — it's to give you the know-how and skills needed to become a self-sufficient developer and have successful long-term career, whether that's getting hired somewhere or even starting your own company."