It’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s just marketing propaganda in the bootcamp space. There’s a lot of propaganda. My name is Jim Bruno, I’m Director of Marketing at Launch Academy, and I’m going to be genuine with you today about the bootcamp space, what you really can expect and what’s probably unrealistic.
Yeah, you really do. I was a bit…skeptical… my first cohort working at Launch. My sigh of relief was audible as hell when I found out this was actually a legitimate industry. The market is misrepresented sometimes: do your homework when it comes to placements, graduation rates, and starting income. Your likely first gig will be either a real “junior level developer” job, or a paid internship that is a bit lower than your peers and then higher once it’s over (post-bootcamp internships are really valuable in the development world).
Web developers are in insane demand right now. When bootcamps say they have 90-99% placement rates, they’re pretty honest. While it takes worry, and work, after you graduate, it’s one of the best markets to be in right now.
Some people have graduated from bootcamps and filled a rare slot with a big-name tech company. Some have succeeded in development and moved on to big name companies. We bootcamps like to put shiny brand badges on our pages anyway. The odds are in your favor you’ll find a job. The odds are in your favor that within four years of work you’ll be making more than me (ugh). But the odds are not in your favor that you will graduate out of a bootcamp and into a place that would make your friends jealous. Your probable inevitable paycheck down the line will do that.
When one bootcamp’s average starting salary is $123,000 and another’s is $72,000, it’s not a clear indicator of performance / placement. The demand for developers is higher in San Francisco than it is in New Hampshire, ergo companies pay out more for developers who come from bootcamps in that location. When deciding where to go, you need to consider cost-of-living in that location, probable starting salary, cost of education, and opportunity cost lost (current salary) while attending a bootcamp.
Programming increases your probability of finding a job, likely much higher than your current profession. However that takes time. Some people get jobs right out of bootcamps, but some have to wait several months, it depends on demand at that particular time and in the region you are settling into. And, frankly, how good you are.
You need to budget yourself so that you are safe. Either have others who will put you up for a few months, or have several months of nest egg post-graduation. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
I asked myself what I would do, if I were to join a bootcamp, now that I know everything I do about the industry. My answer was to always play the probabilities. Here’s a list of logical considerations you need to weight in your brainspace before you make a call.
- If you are going to a bootcamp with job placement assistance, go to a one in the region you want to get a job. The best connections a bootcamp will have is in their region(s).
- What’s attractive right now may not be in a few years. You need to decide if a particular market is going to saturate. California, for example is a, “Gold Rush” for developers. It pays well now, but also has the highest chance of saturating full of developers and losing value.
- Look for the placement rate and average starting salary of a bootcamp. Also look at cost of living and do the personal financial calcs. Read online reviews but don’t always trust them, positive or negative (for example I can pay Yelp to amplify positive reviews and bury negative ones). Read online chat boards but be skeptical about not just who gives the answer, but who asks the question.
- Play around with programming a little. If you don’t “get it” by the time you learn loops and classes on your own, or it’s not fun, programming might not be for you.
- If you are a woman in development, you have the odds stacked in your favor. Companies want to hire female developers. You see a lot of articles, scholarships, and marketing on women in programming bootcamps because you have a high chance of getting placed, and making bank. Bootcamps want you to make their numbers better. The industry itself needs more females in science. That’s an amazing advantage.
Anywho, best of luck in your search.
Director of Marketing
Launch Academy's three-month, full-stack developer program begins with pre-work and concludes with a career networking day which allows students to display completed projects to potential employers. Launch Academy also offers scholarship assistance for underrepresented students attending its Boston campus.