NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Observers who fear the trade school trend in higher ed and the devaluation of liberal arts degrees won’t like what they see in the rise of coding academies, or boot camps as they are better known. Unlike for-profit colleges that offer courses in hotel management and massage, coding academies provide instruction in digital information, a field widely believed to have a big upside.
The Course Report, a website that provides boot camp intelligence, says in its 2015 Bootcamp Market Size Study that there are now 67 full-time boot camps. The average program runs about 11 weeks with tuition at about $11,063. Course Reports states on its website that “Boot camps are expensive” and poses the ever-growing decision: “Coding boot camp vs. college.” Top boot camps are highly selective, and it is on the applicant to figure out his own skill level. More than 16,000 students are expected to finish programs this year when total boot camp revenue is estimated at $172 million. All seem to be running from the term for-profit college.
Digital technology has long been a magnet for free-booters, self-taught geeks and college drop-outs such Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg; the space seems made for alternative education. Existing coding academies such as General Assembly, The Iron Yard and the ones they inspire have taken note.
“We don’t require any specific qualifications to become a student at The Iron Yard,” said Lelia King, spokesperson for the Columbia, S.C.-based coding academy. “No prior coding experience is required, although we do have applicants try some code during the application process to ensure they enjoy and want to pursue programming as a career.” She added, “We also assign pre-work before a new course begins so students can be exposed to and become more comfortable with coding.”