Coding Bootcamps in the Triangle: Part 1 An Overview

North Carolina Coding Bootcamps

Over the last few years, the Triangle area has seen unprecedented and exponential growth as a rising tech hub on the East coast. With a number of nationally ranked universities and industry titans such as Apple, Microsoft, IBM, and Lenovo operating in the area, it’s no surprise North Carolina is churning out a workforce of talented and educated individuals. 

Universities in the Triangle region are notoriously competitive and highly selective when it comes to admissions. Schools such as UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University offer world-renowned computer science programs, but also feature anemic acceptance rates with fewer than 23% and 6% of all applications accepted, respectively. Fortunately for those of us not in the upper echelons of academia, or for those who simply cannot afford to pay anywhere from $25,000 to $75,000 per year for a four-year degree, there are a number of fantastic alternatives for learning how to code in the RTP area. 

Lithios has put together a two-part series on coding bootcamps in the Triangle area, with this first piece focusing on providing an informative rundown on bootcamps in general, the skills and career benefits you can expect to get out of them, and how much they cost. We also touch on financial aid options, differences in bootcamp offerings, and finally, we attempt a statistical breakdown and comparison on whether or not coding bootcamps are truly worth it. 

Keep an eye out for Part 2 in the coming days where we’ll present an in-depth and hand curated list of our top picks for the best coding bootcamps in the region, complete with statements directly from bootcamp organizers.

What is a Coding Bootcamp?

Coding bootcamps are short-term and intensive training courses generally centered around web and mobile development, design, and cybersecurity. Some bootcamps also train in other related fields such as data science, digital marketing, or technical sales; and it is becoming increasingly common to find these companies dipping their toes into the corporate training market. 

These courses can be held entirely online, in-person, or as a hybrid. Bootcamps are great choices for someone interested in a low-cost program that can fast-track their tech career. Some bootcamps only last for a week, while the most demanding programs can run for years. Typically, you can expect the average bootcamp to span anywhere from 14 to 16.5 weeks

Bootcamps are usually structured around project-based learning as the primary way to teach industry-specific knowledge to trainees. Unlike university programs that require studies in other subjects like history, languages, or the arts, coding bootcamps focus only on imparting the skills needed to launch a student’s career in their respective industries. 

You can think of a coding bootcamp much like a trade school; the general idea is to turn a student with absolutely zero experience into a career-ready professional in the shortest possible amount of time. Some even go beyond simply teaching coding by helping pupils build a portfolio, establish an online presence, learn job interview skills, or even by matching graduating students with a vetted network of potential employers.

Types of Coding Bootcamps

Some bootcamps focus on teaching only the absolute fundamentals to students with no prior experience, while others might cover only a single specific topic or language such as Ruby. There are even high-level immersive bootcamps where attendees live on-campus while participating in 40-60 hours of coding seminars per week in addition to completing coursework. There are also self-paced, online-only bootcamps that can be completed at your leisure from the comfort of your own home. Hybrid bootcamps can also offer a mixture of both online and in-person learning experiences. The point being that regardless of your experience level, interests, or dedication, there will inevitably be a bootcamp that suits your needs

Coding bootcamps have exploded in popularity and growth since their inception in 2012. Reports show the bootcamp industry has grown from $59 million total gross market revenue in 2014 to nearly $461 million in total revenue as of 2019. Likewise, the number of students graduating from coding bootcamps has grown from just shy of 6,000 in 2014 to almost 34,000 in 2019, according to those same reports. With the introduction of financial aid options in recent years such as deferred tuition, payment plans, scholarships, and income share agreements, it’s easier than ever for students to enroll who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford the program.

How Much do Bootcamps Cost?

According to Course Report, the average full-time bootcamp costs just shy of $14,000. While that is a serious amount of money, it is important to consider the one-time cost relative to a four-year university degree which can often cost three or four times as much per year

The absolute cheapest bare-bones online courses (outside of Coursera) will run you $1,500-$2,000 at a minimum for a certificate, while other in-person programs can cost as much as $24,000 or more. Thankfully, there are a few different options for financial aid if it’s needed. 

Sadly, federal financial aid for coding bootcamps does not exist (yet), but fortunately many bootcamp providers work with specialized lenders to offer loans specifically designed for bootcamp students. Typically these loans offer lower interest rates than the majority of other private lenders. Beyond loans, most bootcamps offer some form of payment plans where students can pay off their tuition over the course of the program instead of all at once, often with no interest at all. 

Other common options are scholarships that cover part or even the full cost of tuition. Many of these scholarships are merit-based, but there are countless more that target veterans and underrepresented demographics in the tech industry. Here is a list of over 40 different scholarships for coding bootcamps, with the majority established specifically for veterans, minorities, and women. 

In some cases, bootcamps even give students the option of an income share agreement (ISA). Essentially, the student pays no tuition up front and makes no payments until they secure a job with a salary above a certain threshold. For example, the prestigious bootcamp App Academy offers an ISA for their 24 week program. The students pay nothing – even after graduating – until they’ve landed a job with a minimum pay of $50,000+ per year. Once they’ve begun their career, they make monthly payments equal to 15% of their monthly income until they pay $31,000.

Are Coding Bootcamps Actually Worth it?

That depends entirely on who you ask, but going strictly by the data the short answer is: yes. Based on a combination of data gathered from the US Department of Education’s 2018-2019 IPEDS Survey as well as Course Report’s 2020 Coding Bootcamp Alumni Outcomes & Demographics Report, we can compare some interesting statistics on tuition, salary, and ROI.

Tuition and Duration:

  • Right now, the average university computer science program is the standard 4-year degree and can easily run $150,000+ including out-of-state tuition, room and board, lifestyle-dependent living expenses, etc. 
  • Coding bootcamps usually only last 14-15 weeks and cost approximately $14,000 in total.
  • Bootcamp length matters: On average, graduates of 16-week programs earn $8,000 more than graduates of 8-week bootcamps. 

Salary and Employment:

  • Over 75% of all bachelor’s degree holders earn salaries ranging from roughly $38,000 on the lower end, to $60,000 on the upper end. 
  • Course Report’s 2020 survey of 3,043 graduates from 101 qualifying coding bootcamps indicated an average post-bootcamp salary of $69,079.
  • 61-62% of graduates that received computer science-related diplomas from a university are employed full time in their field at a starting average salary of $66,000.
  • Within 1-6 months of completing bootcamp, 79% of graduates surveyed indicated they had been employed in a job requiring the skills they learned during the program with an average salary increase of 56%, and an average salary lift of $25,000. 
  • 17% of bootcampers landed a job before they even graduated.
  • Graduating bootcampers from low-income and/or disadvantaged backgrounds saw an average lift in salary of 166%.

Demographics:

  • 41% of all bootcamp graduates surveyed were women.
  • 21% of all undergrad computer science students are women. 
  • Women and men both reported similar salaries after graduating bootcamp. 

If the average bootcamp costs $14,000 and the average lift in salary after graduating is $25,000, then it’s possible to immediately pay off the price of tuition and still come out ahead $11k in the first year alone. That’s not even mentioning the fact that surveys are indicating tremendous growth in salary as graduates gain seniority in the industry. On average, graduates are earning $81,000 at their second job after bootcamp, and just shy of $100,000 at their third job after bootcamp. 

That is a pretty significant return on a one-time $14,000 investment. And remember, these are just general numbers and averages; some bootcamps such as the previously mentioned App Academy boast median salary growths of $56,000 in the first year after graduating, up to $100,000+ growth by year five. That $31,000 ISA price tag doesn’t seem quite so bad now, does it? 

Overall, bootcamps offer an alternative pathway to a technical education and are a great way to kickstart your career. Join us in our next blog where we will highlight the top bootcamps in the Triangle region.

Jonathan Baker Image

At Lithios we value outside opinions. This blog was written by one of our guest bloggers, Jonathan Baker, with feedback from the Lithios team.

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