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Are Coding Bootcamps Worth It in 2024?

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Rithm School

May 8, 2024

are coding bootcamps worth it in 2024

There’s an elephant in the room. Or rather, there’s an elephant in the entire industry. 

Between a tough job market, rising costs across the country, the rise of AI, and less than enthusiastic bootcamp reviews, many in the tech community (and on Reddit) are wondering if coding bootcamps are on their way out. 

The truth is that some might be. But certainly not all of them.

Here’s our very honest take on the future of coding bootcamps and the job market in tech as a whole. 

Boom and bust times 

Here at Rithm, we’ve been around for over 10 years at this point. We’ve seen boom and bust times for entry-level engineers across the tech industry, and honestly, this is the worst we’ve seen so far. 

And we don’t say that lightly. 

It’s incredibly difficult for early stage engineers, i.e. graduates of coding boot camps, to get their foot in the door. So with that, outcomes at coding bootcamps are down across the board. 

At Rithm, our outcomes are the lowest they’ve been since the start of our program. We’re seeing far below our normal averages of 80% placement rates within six months. And this is an area that we typically excel at compared to other bootcamps in the industry. 

So does this mean that bootcamps are on their way out? 

No. But it means that if you’re interested in a coding boot camp in 2024, or at least for the next six months, it’s important to be really intentional about what it is you’re looking for and what you’re trying to do.

Breaking into the job market

We’re not here to sugarcoat anything for you. Part of our ethos at Rithm is transparency and ethical admissions, so we’re here to tell it like it is even when it’s not what any of us want to hear. 

And we’ll start with the good news–this dire job market isn’t forever. It’s going to bounce back, and more opportunities will emerge for early stage engineers. They always do. In fact, we’re currently seeing signs that things are picking up.

But it’s important to be realistic about just how difficult it’s going to be to get your foot in the door at the moment. 

As an entry-level coder, you’re going to have to find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition. Whether that’s past experience, your existing network, projects you’ve worked on, open source contributions, or whatever it may be to help differentiate yourself from the rest of the applicants. In addition, you’re going to have to find ways to be visible. Networking, meeting new people virtually and in person, doing a ton of outreach is going to be necessary for you to be noticed and engage in live conversations.

That’s the mission critical piece. 

It is absolutely possible to land a job straight after coding bootcamp—our graduates are doing it. But it takes longer, and a lot of the job search really depends on your decisiveness, your willingness to be seen, previous experience, and your existing network.

The days of just cold applying and expecting a bunch of interviews are unfortunately gone for now. 

Be more critical of coding bootcamps

So what do you have to think about if you’re looking for a coding bootcamp? 

Think a lot about the technical bar that each coding boot camp has. 

How hard is the admissions process? Is it only technical? Does the team actually meet with you to understand your goals? Can you join with little to no coding experience?

Unfortunately, it’s just not possible to take someone with absolutely no coding experience to a well-paying job in 16, 20, or even 24 weeks. So, be wary of any bootcamp that promises that is.

You have to have some experience before you go to a coding boot camp. It doesn’t have to be professional, but you have to have some experience writing JavaScript or some other programming language, because you need to know if you even like it.

The days of using a coding bootcamp to see if it’s for you are over. It’s never going to be successful. 

Additionally, take a look at the curriculum you’re going to be learning. 

Languages and frameworks? They change. They come and go. It’s not important to be on the bleeding edge and know every single latest and greatest framework, and so on. 

What’s much more important is that you can learn the skills necessary to become a professional software engineer.

Sure, you’re going to learn JavaScript or Python or TypeScript or whatever AI and machine learning library may be out right now. But can you be a valuable member to a professional engineering team? 

Can you write code that is maintainable, well-documented, and testable? 

In addition, can you communicate with other engineers on the team? Are you flexible, resilient, open to feedback?

Learning to become a software engineer isn’t just learning how to write code, it’s primarily learning how to be a member of a team. Make sure the bootcamp you choose focuses on behavioral coaching and training as much as the technical content. 

What does the career services support look like? What about their curriculum? Is it exhaustive? Is it current?

The way you’re learning, not just what you’re learning, is something to really spend time examining before diving into a coding bootcamp. 

What is the learning experience like in the bootcamps you’re interested in? 

Are you getting code reviews from experienced instructors?

Is there someone over your shoulder teaching you how to become better and better? 

A lot of coding boot camps will have exercises or assessments that you complete and then you’re done. But that’s not how the real world works. 

There is code, and then there’s code that works and is ready for a production code base. 

You want to be really sure that if you’re going to take the time and spend the money to join a coding bootcamp, that you’re going to a place that not only teaches advanced curriculum, but also teaches you valuable skills to help you become a professional. 

Finally, get to know your instructors beforehand.

Before spending $10,000 – $30,000, make sure you know the exact person that’s going to be teaching you. 

There’s a reason why Rate My Professors and similar websites exist. Because when you’re investing so much in your education and ultimately, your future, you want to know who is going to be teaching you. 

There are popular bootcamps out there that have student graduates teaching their classes, rather than experienced veteran-instructors. Make sure this isn’t the case for your future bootcamp. 

Use every opportunity you can to talk to your future instructor(s) and even learn from them if you can. Many boot camps run free webinars and events to give you the chance to get to know the instructors and learning styles. 

Also, there are often Prep classes before the actual program itself starts, which is often worth doing to make sure the instructors and teaching style both meet your expectations. 

It’s a mistake to join a coding bootcamp without meeting, talking to, or learning from those who will be teaching you for the next 15-20 weeks first. Take it from those of us who know! 

Take a tangible first step

At the end of the day, coding bootcamps are not disappearing. But the lower quality programs likely are. 

And for good reason! 

We encourage you to do your due diligence before taking the next step to becoming a software engineer. 

Read reviews on Course Report

Visit our website and read our blog.

Join a free online event

Speak to the admissions team

It’s important to know exactly what you’re paying for, and how successful the program will be in helping you secure an entry-level job in an already tumultuous market.  

Here at Rithm School, we’re determined more than ever to help our graduates get their foot in the tech door. 

If you’d like to learn more about our program at Rithm, we’ll leave a list of resources below. 

In the meantime, happy coding and good luck! 

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