If you’re looking for a program to quickly help you learn the necessary skills to land your dream job without having to enroll in college, it may be beneficial to enlist in a bootcamp. In the last few years, bootcamps have become incredibly popular. In 2020, 44,254 people attended or graduated from bootcamps – a 30.2% increase over the prior year.

Online bootcamps teach students the technical skills necessary to pursue a career in information technology and other relevant industries. Unlike traditional college degrees or certifications, these training programs are much shorter and often cost far less. Who doesn’t want to learn in-demand skills and spend less money in the process? After all, the goal is to make money, not spend money learning the ropes. Naturally, the perks of an online bootcamp are especially appealing to people who are interested in launching their career quickly from the comfort of their own home.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the computer and information technology industry is expected to see an additional half a million new jobs added over the next decade - which amounts to a growth rate of 11 percent, much higher than the average of 4 percent in other career fields. There are more than 65 bootcamps in the United States, which means you have a lot of options when choosing an online bootcamp. In this blog, we’ll discuss how to choose a bootcamp online and go over some key questions you should ask yourself when making the decision.

Bootcamp Basics

The word “bootcamp” is most often associated with military training. However, bootcamp is defined as a short, intensive, and rigorous course of training. It’s an accelerated learning program designed to provide aspiring or current professionals with the skills employers want. Although bootcamps aren't necessarily meant to take the place of a traditional college education, they offer an alternative or supplemental training. Online bootcamps are fast-paced, accelerated learning programs designed to teach beginners digital skills. Some of the skills commonly taught in an online bootcamp include:

  • Full-Stack Web Development;
  • Data Science;
  • Digital Marketing;
  • UX/UI Design;
  • Cybersecurity;
  • Technical Sales.

Bootcamps teach widely used programming languages and frameworks such as:

  • Ruby on rails;
  • Python on django;
  • Javascript;
  • PHP stacks.

In addition, bootcamps teach students to build fully functional web apps, perform data analysis and use real dev tools. Some boot camps also teach skills like UX/UI Design, Data Science, and Cybersecurity.

What Are My Career Goals?

Deciding what motivates you to learn to code can help narrow down the field of options. Are you wanting to start your own business? Do you want to work for a large corporation? Would you rather join a start-up? Consider the popularity of job possibilities with the skills a bootcamp offers. Determine the most sought-after programming languages in your area and look for an online bootcamp specializing in those.

What is My Experience?

As bootcamps grow in popularity, some programs have become more selective and specific in their admissions requirements. Think about your current skill level. Do you have experience hacking on open-source projects? Do you work on technical projects? Some schools boast they can teach anyone programming basics and will accept all beginners, but other programs require some background knowledge and are designed only to supplement. Always be honest with schools about your background because the goal is for you to learn. Find a school that can work with your current skill level.

How Much Time Am I Willing to Commit?

Bootcamps are intense. It’s not uncommon for them to require students to dedicate at least 40 hours a week to their program. Remember, you’re cramming years of education into just a few weeks. The goal is to drill the material into the students’ heads to help students learn and retain the information.

Certain online e-learning platforms require students to log in at specific times. There may be live lessons or more of a classroom feel in some lessons. Consider your daily schedule and needs when looking for an online bootcamp. Self-paced online bootcamps will often require less of a commitment. These bootcamps are longer programs that really only require about 10-20 hours a week. Students will often meet with a mentor a couple of times a week, but for the most part — they make their own schedule and choose when they log in with a self-paced program. You may have soft deadlines in terms of project completion and assignments. This option is ideal for someone who works currently and can only dedicate a few hours a week to coding school. Keep in mind that it will take longer to complete.

What Does it Cost?

In 2020, the median bootcamp tuition price was $13,5854 on average, according to ComputerScience.org. You can find bootcamps ranging from as little as a few thousand dollars to more than $20,000, depending on the school. Consider how you’ll pay for tuition and inquire about the various payment methods the school offers. If you can’t afford to pay for it in a lump sum, you’ll want to explore a program that offers payment plans. Some schools may even offer financial aid and scholarships. If you need to take out a loan, you’ll want to look for a school that partners with loan providers to offer options specifically for bootcamp students.

Is There a Live Instructor?

The number of hours of live classes with lecturers varies. Compare the prices to see how many hours of learning are included with each course. Look at how many hours of online consultation with a lecturer the course included. Some languages are really complex, so you’ll want that guidance for complicated topics that are bound to appear. The option to consult with an actual instructor one-on-one can make a substantial difference in your learning.

What is the Student Success Rate?

Always research success rates. Bootcamps commonly publish student success rates on their websites, but if they don’t contact the program provider directly. Ask the course advisor what the success rate is for the program. You want to know what percentage of students who sign up for the course actually complete it. Some programs are just too intense and not everyone can complete them. You don’t want to get in over your head.

Does it Provide Career Counseling?

For students who are able to successfully complete bootcamp, the placement rates overall tend to be high. Ask the advisor for job placement statistics. A good online bootcamp will offer career counseling and job opportunities. Bootcamps are focused on a specific area of expertise and aim to teach students exactly what they need to know about land jobs. Bootcamps that have established relationships with recruiters often have career counselors ready to help students craft industry-standard resumes and LinkedIn profiles. They can help you build good networking habits and guide you through the hiring process. Schools that offer career counseling often roll the cost of these services into the price.

Is the Curriculum Current?

When deciding on an online bootcamp, make sure the curriculum is current and adequately reflects the industry you’re planning to enter. You’ll want a bootcamp that teaches you how to demonstrate your skills to potential employers. Speak with a course representative to inquire about the specific curriculum used so compare it with competitors.

How are the Reviews?

Like any major purchase or investment, it’s always a wise idea to see what others who have been-there-done-that think of the bootcamp. Check the school’s reviews and credentials before signing up. Look at the school’s Better Business Bureau rating to see if there are any complaints.

Are you ready to enlist in an online bootcamp? Once you select the bootcamp, and the bootcamp provider, that can help move your career aspirations forward, Pace can help connect you with quality lessons that level up your skills and get you noticed. Contact us today to start the process.