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What is a Coding Bootcamp?

A coding bootcamp student studying on a computer

Coding bootcamps are a way to hone desired skills in the tech field. These bootcamps may be suitable for anyone currently in the industry looking to grow or advance their knowledge of coding subjects, or for new learners looking to begin a career in the tech world. Regardless of experience level, bootcamps offer value because of the technical and job preparedness skills they provide.

Coding bootcamps deliver a focused curriculum of technical skills that can help prepare you for jobs within the tech industry. “A coding bootcamp is a technical training program designed to provide intensive, accelerated education and skills development in tech areas like coding, UX (user experience)/UI (user interface) design, web development, computer programming and software engineering,” said Jenay Sermon, senior director of applied learning science at Kenzie Academy – an online coding and tech program that provides certificates to help you develop straight-to-workforce skills and make tech careers more accessible.

Coding bootcamps teach technical skills that are relevant immediately in the workforce and a project-based learning curriculum to help prepare you for your career aspirations. So, if you're looking for a nontraditional pathway into the tech field – that may be completed in a shorter timeframe than most degrees – a coding bootcamp could be for you, Sermon said.

How Long are Coding Bootcamps?

Infographic with the text bootcamps are typically 12 weeks (full-time) or 24 weeks (part-time)Whether you are just getting started or have been coding already, there are several lengths of coding bootcamps for you to consider. Your decision on which bootcamp format – full or part-time – is best for you, will determine how long a bootcamp may take you to complete.

“Coding bootcamps are typically 12 weeks (full-time) or 24 weeks (part-time),” Sermon said, although “some bootcamp-style coding and tech schools offer longer programs, such as 9- or 12-month programs that give learners more flexibility and time to learn, absorb, retain and practice concepts.”

Sermon identified some of the different lengths of bootcamps and their benefits:

  • The typical 12-week full-time schedule may allow you to learn, collaborate and practice anywhere between 40 and 80 hours per week. The payoff is that you can complete the entire program in just three months and begin gaining professional experience much sooner.
  • The 24-week part-time schedule will allow you to better balance school and work or personal responsibilities that you may have.
  • The 9- to 12-month programs may provide more flexibility if you desire a more self-paced and independent learning experience. These programs may also be suitable if you require more time to learn, understand and practice.

Coding bootcamps can be in-person, online or in hybrid learning environments. Keep in mind that coding bootcamps and courses can be offered in any of these program lengths and learning environments, so you may have to take some time to think about what curriculum best suits your needs. For example, if having a more flexible schedule is essential to you, then you could consider becoming a hybrid or online student.

How Comprehensive are Coding Bootcamps?

The bootcamp curriculum must be solid to ensure you're not only job-ready but confident in your technical, problem solving and critical thinking skills that employers seek. "Due to their fast-paced nature, coding bootcamps are challenging and require focus, dedication and even grit," Sermon said. Coding bootcamps can provide valuable hands-on learning experiences you can transfer to the workplace.

Careers in tech can be particularly rewarding since you can utilize so many different skills.

"You get to be creative and innovative," Sermon said. "You can build apps, create transformative user experiences and solve real-world problems."

What Makes a Coding Bootcamp Valuable?

The value of a coding bootcamp comes from its ability to “give nontraditional learners the opportunity to gain a non-degree education that’s relevant and based on industry demand and trends,” Sermon said.

A bulleted infographic piece with the text Coding bootcamps: cost less than a degree program; help you achieve faster entry directly into the tech workforce; provide a quick route to advance or pivot your career; accomodate various learning needs, styles and preferences 

A coding bootcamp has the potential to pay off for you because of the training it provides for in-demand tech jobs with opportunities for growth and advancement.

“Employers are competing for tech talent that can lead their project initiatives and solve problems," Sermon said. "Coding bootcamps partner with employers and industry experts to understand these needs, design curriculum and produce the talent that can meet those needs.”

There's also value in a coding bootcamp if you already have a career in the industry. The curriculum of a coding bootcamp can help you learn the foundations of a new tech skill, build your knowledge base or expand your existing skill set.

A few examples of coding bootcamps include:

What is the Difference Between a Coding Bootcamp and a Certificate Program?

A coding bootcamp and certificate program are both forms of short credentials. One difference between a coding bootcamp and a certificate program is the amount of focus on career preparation skills.

For example, certificate programs can focus on professional development within a certain occupation, and bootcamps may focus on straight-to-workforce skills obtained through training that directly applies to a job.

It's also important to note that there is a difference between certificate programs and another short credential: certifications. While certificate programs and certifications are short credentials – like a bootcamps – they also have their differences. The primary difference between certificate programs and certifications is who awards them. Certifications are typically awarded by a professional association or independent organization, while certificates are usually awarded by educational institutions after the completion of a program.

“Learners pursue a certificate or certification to build their skill set, expand their knowledge and earn a credential that reflects their academic and training advancement,” Sermon said. “A coding bootcamp trains those who are usually brand new to coding and technical skills.”

However, if you wish to pursue a coding bootcamp, you don't have to be new to coding. Perhaps you want to refresh your skills for your current career, or you're interested in coding and wish to pursue it more in-depth. Either way, a coding bootcamp is designed to give you real-world, hands-on experience applicable within a technical career.

Bootcamps, certifications and certificate programs all have some similarities, though. For example, all provide skills training valuable for seasoned career persons and industry newbies, Sermon said. If you're in the position to consider leaving a job to pursue a new career and are interested in the technical field, a coding bootcamp could be a great starting place.

What is a Bootcamp-Style Certificate Program?

Jenay Sermon with the text Jenay SermonA bootcamp-style certificate program shares many similarities with a standard bootcamp. For example, bootcamp-style certificate programs are skills-based and focus on training that is relevant to the current needs and trends of the industry – just like a standard bootcamp, Sermon said. Also, both a bootcamp-style certificate program and a standard bootcamp can act as a fast-paced way to get an education and prepare you for a quick entry into the workforce.

The main difference between a bootcamp-style certificate program and a standard bootcamp is that the certificate programs can run longer than a traditional bootcamp.

Rather, "these robust programs are 9 to 12 months," Sermon said. A bootcamp-style certificate program is great for those who may want more time to absorb the content and demonstrate their skills through extended application.

At the end of a bootcamp-style certificate program, you will earn a certificate of completion, just as you would a traditional certificate program. Combining the concepts of a bootcamp with that of a certificate program creates this unique and flexible program that is suitable for all types of different learners.

Can a Coding Bootcamp Help You Get a Job?

If you're interested in a coding bootcamp, your first question may be, "will it help me get employed?" The answer is yes. “Not only do coding bootcamps provide technical skills training, but many also offer career- and job-readiness training,” Sermon said. “This means they can help a learner successfully prepare for the job search and navigate the hiring process with career support such as resume reviews, negotiating advice, networking guidance and mock interviews.”

A coding bootcamp teaches the learner what they need to know to do the job and how to get it, and Sermon said that employers recognize the value of bootcamps.

Is a Coding Bootcamp for Me?

If you're interested in pursuing a technical profession, then a coding bootcamp may be for you. Completing a bootcamp can help you gain some traction in your search for a job within the field. With your new coding experience and knowledge of the industry you can start to look for the right place to begin your career.

Here are some career paths that you could consider:

  • Computer programmer: Computer programming is writing and testing code that allows computer software and applications to function effectively, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Computer programmers earned a median pay of $93,000 in 2021. If you're interested in computer programming, you can discover more about what programmers do.
  • Software engineer: Software developers design computer applications and programs, and earned a median pay of $110,140 in 2020, according to BLS. Software developer jobs are expected to grow much faster than average, with a 22% growth between 2020-2030, BLS reports. If these career paths interest you, learn more about becoming a software developer or how to become a software engineer.
  • Web developers and UX designers: Web developers and UX digital designers work on creating, developing and maintaining websites. In 2020 the median pay for web developers and digital designers was $77,200, and their field is expected to grow by 13% between 2020-2030. If this career path interests you, discover how to become a web developer.

These career paths are just some of the options that you may have available to you. It's important to remember that for some specific jobs you may have to obtain a bachelor's degree, so be sure to read the requirements prior to applying for a job. Also, it's helpful to consider your career, educational and personal goals to ensure you are attending the right bootcamp for you. If you have any questions you can always reach out to an admissions team member for assistance.

Discover more about Kenzie Academy from SNHU and their bootcamp-style online coding certificate programs: Find out what courses you’ll take, skills you’ll learn and how to request information about the programs.

Nicholas Patterson is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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