Breaking into Tech: How to Choose an Online Coding Bootcamp

November 18, 2020
a woman works on a computer

The tech industry is an ever-changing environment, with job growth projected to rise by 8% for Web Developers and 22% for Software Developers within the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With that growth brings an evolving landscape of tech education to meet the growing demands and make the rapidly changing needs of the tech industry reflected within tech education.  We know that deciding on the best type of education for you is a difficult and personal choice, and we are here to make it easier. In this article, we will explore the best ways to evaluate what an online coding school has to offer.

Consider these five key factors when comparing online coding bootcamps:   

1.     Time Commitment. The most obvious benefit to an online coding school as a learning alternative to a traditional two- or four-year degree program is the time commitment and learn-from-home flexibility afforded through an online option. What you may not consider, however, are how much online programs differ in content and structure from a traditional degree program. While a degree program will cover fundamentals, it will be unable to adapt its curriculum as frequently to keep up with the changing landscape of emerging industry interests or new languages and frameworks as an online coding program like Bloom Institute of Technology (formerly known as Lambda School) does. This sets BloomTech apart from many other online programs and bootcamps as well, due to an ongoing feedback loop from hiring partners and a commitment to continually refresh curriculum, thus always mimicking the changing tech landscape. 

Not all online programs are created equally as well. Some online coding programs have classes which are pre-recorded, where students learn solo at their own pace. These self-paced classes work best for students who need flexibility and are very disciplined and self-motivated in their own learning. Conversely, some online programs have live classes where students move through material with peer support and accountability. BloomTech provides a combination of both.

Pro Tip: While a coding bootcamp might get you started quickly, many aspiring full stack developers will waste precious time and money burning out hard and fast within a 6-week session. These intense environments may tout quick competency, but may move too quickly through material for true mastery and will not cover enough to wow future employers.  

2.     Cost. Most online coding schools and bootcamps carry a large upfront tuition cost, with 6-week or longer programs varying greatly in price from $7000-$22,000. These up-front costs often require students to dip into savings, borrow, or take on significant debt, with coding schools and bootcamps additionally carrying no added accountability related to the student’s learning and holding guarantee of employment. Conversely, at BloomTech, we invest in you. With our popular income share agreement, or ISA, you invest in yourself, too. When you pay for your BloomTech education with an ISA, you’ll start by paying for a fraction of your tuition up front. Once you graduate, we’ll help you land a well-paying job—and then you’ll pay for the rest of your tuition with a percentage of your income for a limited time. 

In other words, an ISA funds your tuition so you can pay back BloomTech later.

Here are some of the basics about ISAs at BloomTech.

  1. Know what you owe. Unlike with a typical loan, the maximum amount you owe will never increase with an ISA. Your total payment amount is capped at $40,000*, and you may end up paying less.

  1. It scales with you. Your goal is to get a great job; that’s our goal for you, too. Once you start earning at least an annualized $50,000** a year, you’ll pay us back with a percentage of your income each month. If your earned income falls below the minimum total amount, your payments will be deferred until your income reaches the minimum again.

  1. No lingering obligations. Your contract is finished once you complete the ISA payment schedule or reach the payment cap, whichever comes first. And if you aren’t making the minimum average monthly income, and have had deferred payments for a total of 48 months, then your ISA expires and you don’t owe anything else—even if you’ve paid nothing up to that point.

At BloomTech, we are committed to providing more people with a direct and lower-risk path to a rewarding tech job. That’s why we offer flexible options to pay your tuition—and launch your new career.

Pro Tip: When considering the cost of your online coding program or bootcamp, don’t just compare dollar for dollar. Consider the length of the program (part time versus full time, 6-weeks versus 12 months), the breadth of content, and support you will receive for your dollar.

Sure, it is possible to self-teach the basics with YouTube, but is that going to keep you up to industry standards and get you a job? Consider what you will need to take you to the next level and keep you motivated. What is that worth, dollar for dollar? 

3.     Experience. While you may start out as a complete beginner, self-taught, or an experienced programmer looking for career advancement, consider what learning style you bring to the equation and what support you will need to stay motivated. While a self-directed coding program may let you work at your own pace, you may need additional administrative and peer support to master the subjects covered within your program. For instance, BloomTech’s student community is intentionally organized for just this purpose, situated in supportive student cohorts, with access to Slack help channels and daily “Stand Ups”, not to mention Industry Mentors and Career Coaches. 

4.     Job Search Support. While no online coding school carries the promise of employment following graduation, it is worth considering whether the online coding school option you choose holds incentive toward your success. Since most traditional degree and online programs require upfront payment, there is little incentive, aside from notoriety and continued enrollment, for schools to refine their curriculum to meet the ever-changing needs of the dynamic tech landscape. However, programs such as BloomTech with an Income Share Agreement (ISA), have financial incentive to see students not just succeed, but excel in their field. This stretches throughout the BloomTech coursework, and permeates through preparation from Student Success Coordinators, Career Coaches, and mentors who work to prepare students for employment throughout the program. When BloomTech students complete coursework, not only are they prepared for coding challenges with potential employers, they have also received interview practice and ongoing feedback and support of their portfolios. In addition, BloomTech’s Job Search program helps to connect Hiring Partners with new graduates.  

Pro Tip: Consider how your online coding school provides actual work experience in the real-world environment and if they give opportunity for mentorship in the industry. Make plans for your future self, not just your student self. 

5.     Student Outcomes & Reviews. After narrowing down the type of online school you wish to attend, next research outcome and job placement information at the schools which most interest you. Notice which are transparent, and which collect and report data regularly and publicly. How do these schools use what they learn to change their programs? Do they demonstrate a continual feedback loop of improvement, reflection, and growth? Does the school align with your values and reflect and represent an authentic message? Do they care about their students and is this reflected in what students report back? For instance, BloomTech’s Outcomes Report and Alumni Testimonials can be helpful in understanding both the big picture and the individual impact. Many BloomTech students report having followed BloomTech alumni on social platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn before making the decision to apply. Likely you will be as inspired as they were by the transformations taking place every day.  

Now that you have a greater understanding of the differences within online coding programs, it will be easier to select the right fit for you. Still, take note that each program will have varying admissions requirements or prerequisites. Although most programs will not require you to have any coding background to apply, there may still be a basic entrance exam you need to complete within a few days of receipt. For more information on how to best prepare for the BloomTech admissions process, answers to frequently asked questions about BloomTech, or if you are ready to get started, start your application now