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Your Complete Guide to Coding Bootcamps

Launch or switch your career with an accelerated online coding bootcamp. Learn the latest coding and development skills to land your dream job.
Written by Megan Whitenton, Contributor

Coding bootcamps rival degree programs in marketable skill development and career preparation. Through an immersive curriculum in Python and the latest coding technologies, bootcamps provide a fast track toward lucrative, long-term employment in diverse job sectors. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 13% increase in computer and IT occupations from 2020-30, with educated, experienced workers earning annual salaries exceeding $100,000 in top jobs. 

This guide to coding bootcamps explores what sets the best apart from the rest. You'll learn how to choose, how to apply, what you'll learn, and what you'll pay. 

Coding bootcamps: What you need to know

What is a coding bootcamp?

A coding bootcamp is a short-term, fast-paced program that may teach coding languages, data science, data analytics, and other web, software, and mobile app development topics. 

How long does a coding bootcamp take to complete?

Most take 10-20 weeks to complete at a part- or full-time pace.

What skills might coding bootcamps teach?

  • Python
  • JavaScript
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Mobile app development
  • Data analytics
  • Data science
  • Cybersecurity
  • UX/UI

How much does a coding bootcamp cost?

  • $1,300 - $30,000
  • Bootcamps often offer discounts and varied rates, depending on your format of study

What is a coding bootcamp? 

There are as many different coding bootcamps as there are programming languages. 

Bootcamp providers develop programs based on the needs of top IT employers, tracking industry trends to prepare graduates for immediate employment. Python bootcamps are arguably the most popular, followed closely by JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. 

In 2022, standout programs cover Python, web development, data science, and cybersecurity skills.

A chart showing things to look for and things to avoid while choosing a bootcamp. The "What to look for" column includes: Can be completed online. Affordable rates. Offers a variety of courses. CIRR membership. Provides job placement assistance. The "What to avoid" column includes negative reviews, not a CIRR member, and lack of data on alumni employment rates.
Tori Rubloff/ZDNet

How to choose a coding bootcamp

Sorting through so many programming bootcamps may seem overwhelming. Aspiring coders should consider factors including format, pace, cost, and placement services before deciding. Prospective students may also seek a Python bootcamp or similar specialty. 

A student's location and their preferred bootcamp format are major factors. 

Many programming bootcamps offer online, hybrid, and in-person learning options, designed to accommodate students across geographic and economic boundaries. Additionally, many bootcamps offer a choice of full, part-time, or self-paced programs.

While most programming bootcamps cost less than a traditional degree, affordability still impacts a student's final decision. Most bootcamps offer discounts for paying the total tuition costs upfront and honor veteran's benefits. 

Many also offer installment plans, deferment until employment, or employer reimbursement programs.  

What do the best coding bootcamps have in common?

Prospective coding bootcamp students will encounter many program structures and curricula options as they research potential programs. However, the best coding bootcamps share some characteristics in common.

  • Can be completed online: Coding bootcamps appeal to career changers and working professionals hoping to improve their job skills. Some of the best coding bootcamps feature online programs, allowing aspiring coders to hone their skills at a top-ranked program without disrupting their schedules.
  • Feature affordable rates: Known for career-focused results, coding bootcamps may tie tuition costs to job acquisition. Thinkful, for example, refunds the entire tuition if students fail to secure a job in tech within six months of graduation.
  • Offer a variety of courses: Students attend coding bootcamps to gain expertise in high-demand programming languages or specialty areas. The best coding bootcamps offer various courses in the field. For example, Flatiron School features immersive programs in software engineering, data science, cybersecurity analytics, cybersecurity engineering, and product design.
  • Provide job placement assistance for graduates: The best coding bootcamps ensure that every graduate has the support they need to land industry jobs. Bootcamps may partner with large companies to match graduates with open positions. Fullstack Academy helps students with the job-search process by providing workshops and one-on-one coaching plus networking events.
  • Hold Council on Integrity in Results Reporting membership: Regional and national accrediting agencies that verify education standards at colleges and universities do not evaluate coding bootcamps. However, the top coding bootcamps hold CIRR membership. This independent nonprofit organization assesses student outcomes like graduation timelines, job placement rates, and salary data.

Our coding bootcamp reviews and round-ups

Check out these articles to learn more about top and popular coding bootcamps.

Review: Flatiron School's top courses


This Flatiron School review provides an overview of Flatiron's bootcamps as well as some of their free lessons. We also discuss the pros and cons of Flatiron School and offer a few alternatives to consider as well.

Dive into Coding Dojo's most popular courses


Coding Dojo is a bootcamp provider that prepares students for software development, cybersecurity, and data science careers. Read our Coding Dojo review to learn more about Coding Dojo, including offered courses, the platform's pros and cons, and also some great alternatives.

Python programming bootcamps guide


Python is one of the world's most popular and versatile programming languages. Anyone can gain the Python skills to succeed in web and software development through a Python coding bootcamp. Check out our Python programing bootcamps guide.

Best Java bootcamps

(Image: Shutterstock)

Java is a computing platform and programming language that powers many websites and applications. It's also the third-most in-demand programming language in the world. For focused, fast training in Java, consider our picks for the best Java bootcamps.

Full-stack web development bootcamps


Full-stack web development bootcamps offer some of the most direct, accessible, and affordable educational pathways to the web developer and engineer professions. Check out our roundup of the top bootcamps to learn more.

Coding bootcamp vs. college degree

Here are some areas of caution to consider if you're thinking about attending a coding bootcamp instead of pursuing a degree.

  • No college credit: While students in a coding bootcamp can gain highly employable skills, they do not earn transferable college credit in the process. 
  • Narrow focus: In a computer science bachelor's program, students explore various programming and technology topics and take general education courses in English, math, and science. Coding bootcamps usually focus exclusively on a set curriculum of employable skills.
  • Limited advancement potential: While employers may accept practical coding experience and computer skills instead of a degree, a lack of higher education can prevent workers from advancing to managerial positions.

How to apply to a coding bootcamp

Coding bootcamps have varying requirements for applicants. Generally, preferred candidates are dedicated, motivated, and possess some coding experience. The application process typically involves an in-depth interview, which includes a coding "challenge" to test a candidate's ability to solve coding problems.

The interview can make or break a student's chances for admission into a coding or Python bootcamp program. Students should prioritize interview preparation in the early stages of the application process. Most interviewers look for passion, potential, and a willingness to participate in the bootcamp experience.

Some providers offer paid bootcamp prep courses for prospective applicants. Others require applicants to complete a free introductory course before their interview. 

All students should thoroughly research a program's format and enrollment options to suit their learning style and career goals. Many enrollees choose part-time, online options over more rigorous full-time, in-person programs.

How much can a programming bootcamp cost? 

Many students choose bootcamps over degrees for their affordable tuition rates. However, enrolling in a bootcamp can be a big monetary commitment. 

Students can attend a coding bootcamp for as little as $1,300 or as much as $30,000 for a top program. The average bootcamp cost $13,579 in 2020. 

Bootcamps typically have variety of discounts and payment options. Some providers charge different rates depending on whether a student enrolls in full- or part-time study, in person or online. 

Many coding bootcamps offer discounts for paying a lump sum upfront, and monthly installment plans, special loans, or deferred payment until after graduation. 

Python bootcamps

Python bootcamps typically include intensive coursework in algorithms, Python object and data structure, object-oriented programming, and Python frameworks. The curriculum prepares students to understand and use Python coding in a variety of applications. 

Most Python bootcamps culminate in a capstone project, which involves building applications using Python to retrieve, process, and imagine data. Bootcamp programs may require solo or team-based final projects. 

Students may prefer learning in person, through hybrid study options, or online, with a choice of live or recorded courses

Are coding bootcamps worth it?

For many professionals, especially career switchers, the answer is yes. 

Coding bootcamps can help professionals boost their programming skills in the latest industry technologies through an affordable, accelerated non-degree program. Employers are increasingly open to hiring nontraditional candidates with skills and experience in coding and programming.  

Bootcamp graduates can upskill from entry-level programmer positions to jobs in computer systems analysis or information security analysis, for example. These jobs offered median annual salaries of $99,270 and $102,600, respectively, as of May 2021. Students should research bootcamps aligned with their career goals. 

If you're ready to find the ideal program for you, check out our list of the best coding bootcamps of 2022.  

Do employers like coding bootcamps?

Yes, employers in a variety of IT fields view bootcamp graduates nearly as favorably as candidates with a college degree. However, while employers like coding bootcamps for entry-level positions, many still require a bachelor's or master's degree for senior roles.

Are coding bootcamps good for beginners?

Yes, coding bootcamps suit beginner-level coders ultimately pursuing entry-level jobs or switching careers to a new field or specialization. Since bootcamps typically do not require applicants to have extensive experience, students from all backgrounds are welcome.

Which coding language is the easiest to learn?

Python ranks among the easiest programming languages to learn for its accessibility and high efficiency, simple programming syntax. Python provides an uncomplicated path for beginners to learn to code. 

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