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All About Coding Bootcamps for International Students

advice for students
computer science
career planning
By Matt Killorin
Last updated on November 2, 2022

Here’s what you need to know to launch a programming career the fast way.

A male international student from Asia sits at a keyboard and monitor with an adjacent laptop and works on code

Coding bootcamps are accessible, accelerated programs that open doors to in-demand technology fields such as full-stack development, product management, data science, and UX/UI design. The quickest path to a career in tech these days is through a coding bootcamp, and some reports even argue that developer graduates from bootcamps can make 12% more in their first year than college graduates. However, not all coding bootcamps lead to fast-track tech job placement, and, like other for-profit universities and educational outfits, some bootcamps don’t have your best interests in mind. 

Here’s what to consider when choosing a coding bootcamp, including how to find a reputable company or a university-backed program that can help you take the next step in your technology career. 

Who Should Enroll in a Coding Bootcamp?

Coding bootcamps are flexible and accessible worldwide, with classes designed for every type of student and schedule. In addition, COVID-19 has prompted many bootcamp firms to create better remote learning experiences to keep tuition up as in-person classes shut down. Course Report notes 84% of bootcamps shifted to 100% online classes during 2020. 

The bootcamp shift to 100% remote mirrors an increase in remote jobs and opportunities since the pandemic. A recent Brookings Institute study shows that the once-highly concentrated tech industry has slowly spread to new geographic areas since the pandemic. Tech growth in new markets is a good sign for aspiring remote programmers living outside of digital hubs such as New York, San Francisco, Bengaluru, or Hong Kong. 

Coding bootcamps are more affordable than a traditional university or college education. According to Course Report, US-based bootcamps cost approximately $14,000 on average in 2021. According to College Board research, the cost for one year of a four-year public out-of-state education is $27,560, meaning the total four-year cost would be approximately $110,000, or nearly eight times more expensive than a coding bootcamp. Private universities can cost more than double public universities.

It also helps that coding bootcamps are short, lasting approximately 14 weeks on average in 2021, which means that students can begin to make money much sooner than through traditional two- or four-year university programs. Coding bootcamp programs are also more flexible. Enrollees can attend classes on campus and in person; full time and remote; self-paced and online; or part time, with a career focus. 

While many students in coding bootcamps have no professional experience, Course Report research data shows the average bootcamper to have a bachelor’s degree and seven years of work experience, but usually no experience as a programmer. 

If you are thinking of going back to school to build your tech skills, consider a coding bootcamp if you are: 

  • Currently working and can’t find a program that fits into your schedule 

  • Budget conscious and don’t have the time to complete a full computer science bachelor’s degree program before you start earning money

  • Living in a remote area that doesn’t have access to the right program 

  • Looking for a quick way to add to your current technical skillset or build out your tech resume 

  • Trying to change careers while still collecting a paycheck

Who Should Think Twice about Coding Bootcamps? 

Coding bootcamps have made it easy for anyone to join, with programs for any schedule, but that doesn’t mean they are for everyone. Coding bootcamps will not give you the same in-depth knowledge or expose you to the same experiences that a multi-year accredited university experience can provide, with internships, work-study opportunities, and a diverse collection of educators and professional resources. 

Coding bootcamps also take a lot of short-term, personal motivation. Some students in intensive tracks report spending as many as 80 hours a week studying, attending classes, and working on projects. If you are the type of student who needs time to absorb technical information, or if you are not sure you have the stamina to complete a four-and-a-half month intensive learning program, you may not get what you expect out of a coding bootcamp. 

What Do I Need to Know about Coding Bootcamps? 

Coding bootcamps have been around since 2012. The first class contained approximately 2,000 graduates, a small fraction of the graduation class of 25,000 in 2020. Just as coding bootcamps have grown in size, they have also become multimillion-dollar businesses. In 2020, coding bootcamps grossed more than $350 million, according to Course Report. 

In coding bootcamp, you have the opportunity to learn modern, practical, and career-minded programming skills, languages, and frameworks. The classes are project-based in learning style and sometimes require group work with other students. In addition to coding, students at coding bootcamp learn interview, application, and career skills and are exposed to professional networking opportunities.

Over and above programming and technical skills, bootcamps should offer: 

  • Career coaching: Your program should provide dedicated help with finding the right position to move you closer to your dream programming career. This help includes resume touch-ups, interview practice, and networking events.

  • Classmate-driven projects: You should have the opportunity to work with other classmates as a team, moving a group project forward as one would have to do in a real work environment.

  • One-on-one instruction: In addition to collaborative learning experiences with your coding cohort, you should be able to work with your teacher and get dedicated, individualized attention when you need it. 

According to many top-rated bootcamps, when you graduate, you will have a portfolio to shop around to prospective employers, not to mention interview skills, an online presence, and the programming know-how to be career-ready in just a few months. 

You can also expect to make a few networking contacts and maybe even some leads for work or internships. Most coding bootcamps help their students find internships after the program ends or match students’ talents and preferences with employer networks associated with the program. 

What Are the Different Types of Coding Bootcamps? 

Coding bootcampers can customize their course schedule at almost every bootcamp these days. Do you live in a remote part of the world with no in-person access? There are options for you. The same goes for coding bootcampers who prefer to learn in person. Here are the four options in detail: 

Full-time, in person: Expect to take 40–80 hours of class in person, in a classroom, each week. (We told you it was going to be intensive!) These immersive programs can last as long as seven months or finish in two. You probably can’t work (or maintain a social life) and be fully committed to your program.

Note: Since the COVID-19 pandemic, most full-time, in-person programs have gone fully remote. Expect the same rigor, however, even if you have to attend your program online. 

Full-time, remote: Expect to work as hard in a full-time remote program as in a full-time in-person one. These programs range 40–60 hours per week and leverage third-party and career-friendly tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and video conferencing applications such as Zoom to coordinate discussions and classroom projects. 

Self-paced, online: This is an excellent option for those with a job who are looking to upskill. Given the lack of an actual class schedule, these students still meet with a teacher or mentor and spend between 10 and 20 hours per week working on their projects. While a dedicated classroom project is harder to schedule given the self-paced option, there are online communities and wikis that help self-paced learners connect and collaborate. 

Part-time, career-focused: Whether part of a company initiative to upskill employees or a personal goal of getting a better job, part-time, career-focused programs are more regimented than the self-paced options but less intensive than the full-time ones. In a part-time program, you can maintain your current job and graduate in six to nine months. 

Which Skills Are Covered at Coding Bootcamp?

The breadth of skills covered at coding bootcamp is growing each year; however, 90% of graduates focus on full-stack development. According to Course Report, 50% of all bootcamps reported using full-stack JavaScript as the primary programming language, with Java, Python, Ruby on Rails, and .Net filling out the remaining 50%. Most programs also incorporate HTML and CSS into their curricula. Students can specialize in an area, such as mobile web development, and learn the appropriate languages, such as Swift or Objective-C. In addition to programming, students can take classes in career-developing areas such as: 

  • Data analytics

  • Data science

  • Digital marketing

  • Product management

  • User experience design 

  • Visual design 

Here is a list of the most popular specific technical skills taught at coding bootcamp, according to Career Karma

  1. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) 

  2. JavaScript 

  3. HTML

  4. React.js

  5. SQL

  6. Git

  7. Node.js

  8. Python

  9. jQuery

  10. Ruby on Rails

How Much Does Coding Bootcamp Cost? 

While the average cost of a coding bootcamp is approximately $14,000, the price can range from free to more than $30,000 for training. Despite five-figure costs for many of the most popular options, bootcamp advocates note the stark price difference compared to a college degree. Additionally, coding bootcamps have designed several creative payment options to ensure their programs are accessible no matter their students’ financial situations. Many of these options are shared between companies, and you can read more about them in the General Assembly Student Financing Handbook

Some payment options include: 

  • Loans 

  • Installment and payment plans

  • Income share agreements 

  • GI Bill benefits 

  • Employee sponsorship

  • Deferred tuition 

Remember, however, to fully research how you will pay for coding bootcamp. Some payment options seem like a great deal at first, but cost dearly in the long run. It is essential to look thoroughly into all your payment options and choose a coding bootcamp you trust.  

Is a Coding Bootcamp Worth the Money?

The average first-job salary for a coding bootcamp graduate was approximately $69,000 in 2020; however, average salary can be a misleading statistic, as pay is often location-dependent and based mainly on where one is in their career.

Of the recent graduates interviewed by Course Report, 79% are now working in a tech-related field and report a 56% increase in salary after coding bootcamp. Graduates also report an 87% program satisfaction rate. The Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR) says 71.4% of students find work within 180 days of graduation. However, it is important to look past the numbers before you decide to enroll in coding bootcamp to make sure a program is worth the cost to you. 

Will I Find My Dream Job After Coding Bootcamp?

Hireability is an essential factor. If you are expecting to segue to a mid-career or higher role straight from coding bootcamp, you may have to adjust your expectations. In addition, many employers like to see additional experience and are hesitant to hire coding bootcamp grads right out of the program. Examine your prospective program’s job placement rate and that the numbers have been independently verified by a group such as CIRR. 

While you may not land your dream job right away, the good news is that a coding bootcamp will set you on almost the same path as a college degree in the eyes of big tech employers. According to a recent SwitchUp study, graduating from coding bootcamp can give you nearly the same chance of working at a Big 5 tech firm — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, or Microsoft — as graduating from a computer science program at a traditional college (both approximately 6%).

According to SwitchUp, the following coding bootcamps performed well at Big 5 companies, some even outperforming top Ivy League universities: 

  • Codefellows in Seattle, WA, graduates have a higher Big 5 employment percentage (11.15%) than Cornell University (9.44%) and almost as high as Stanford University (11.17%).

  • Hackbright Academy (5.82%), a coding bootcamp geared toward women, and Hack Reactor (5.16%) have about the same Big 5 employment rates as Harvard University (5.24%) and Northeastern University (5.78%).  

  • Product School (4.94%), App Academy (4.71%), and Coding Dojo (4.40%) also outperformed many top universities (UNC-Chapel Hill, Georgetown, and Boston University, to name a few) with Big 5 employment percentages. 

According to Career Karma, the following top companies from a range of industries hired big numbers of coding bootcampers in 2021:

Accenture

Number of Bootcamp Hires in 2021

227

Amazon

Number of Bootcamp Hires in 2021

729

Apple

Number of Bootcamp Hires in 2021

228

Booz Allen Hamilton

Number of Bootcamp Hires in 2021

212

Google

Number of Bootcamp Hires in 2021

697

JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Number of Bootcamp Hires in 2021

270

IBM

Number of Bootcamp Hires in 2021

258

Meta (formerly Facebook)

Number of Bootcamp Hires in 2021

427

Microsoft

Number of Bootcamp Hires in 2021

412

How Do I Find the Right Coding Bootcamp for Me? 

Picking the right coding bootcamp is difficult because there are so many options, each with a different metric that says why they are better than the competition. Data points such as job placement rate, average starting salary, and the number of graduates since inception might be hard to understand. Sometimes, all the stats can even be misleading

Everyone’s situation is different and knowing how programs measure up to your personal needs is much more important than knowing how your program measures up to the average cost of a private school you have no intention of attending. 

Is it Hard to Get into Coding Bootcamp? 

Just because coding bootcamps are for-profit doesn’t mean they aren’t competitive. Top coding bootcamps accept approximately 3–5% of their applicants. Many coding bootcamps have quizzes, questionnaires, and prerequisite requirements to apply and use this information to get a better idea of you as an applicant. 

Why do they accept so few students? Often, these requirements are meant to gauge how your success will reflect on their data — in other words, your positive outcome as a student is important to the coding bootcamp’s success. Lower rates of graduation, employment, and salaries from less attractive companies will lower enrollment rates. 

Some companies even have courses to take before coding bootcamp begins. These courses are usually for students enrolling in intensive, full-time programs. App Academy has a four-week, part-time course “designed to get you into” a top bootcamp for approximately $3,000 or your money back. Hack Reactor has a basic prep course designed to give students a leg up once their intensive bootcamps officially start. 

In addition to acceptance rates, there are several other considerations you should take into account before choosing your coding bootcamp. Unsurprisingly, these considerations share many characteristics with the best university and other higher learning programs:

  • Low student-to-instructor ratio: Like with any program, lower student-to-instructor ratios mean more time for personalized learning. Look for instructors with senior-level credentials (e.g., 10 years’ experience or more). 

  • Cutting-edge curriculums: Make sure you learn practical, technology-forward skills applicable to current use cases. 

  • Positive student reviews and results from reputable sources: Read reviews online from third-party sources that you can trust. Research on Quora and read the CIRR report on student outcomes, like this one for Codesmith Los Angeles for the first half of 2020, or find sources that you can verify to post accurate data on coding bootcamps. 

  • Top-shelf networking: A program is only as good as its network. Which schools have inroads into the types of careers you find attractive? Who are your instructors? What types of career events are included in your program, and what do alumni who have attended similar events say?

  • Flexibility/lifestyle fit: This may be the most important factor to consider! Make sure your program has an option that sets you up for success. Don’t add to the stress of an intensive coding bootcamp program if you have to hold down a full-time job. If you need an in-person learning experience, make sure the school you pick offers one. 

University-based Coding Bootcamps Can Offer the Best of Both Worlds

University-based coding bootcamps can offer the speed and cost benefits of a for-profit program along with a high-quality college or university’s backing. University programs may also be affiliated with top companies, which combine institutional resources with career-relevant content and a rich understanding of different tech industries. 

The University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) hosts Tech Bootcamps in collaboration with Fullstack Academy. UIC Tech Bootcamps are fully online courses spanning 10–26 weeks and are taught by industry experts and professionals. Full-time and part-time options are available in data analytics, web development, and cyber security

Cleveland State University has a similar Fullstack Academy-affiliated coding program available, in addition to a unique extended orientation bootcamp for incoming graduate-level computer science students. The four-week program helps students close gaps in foundational computer science knowledge, prepare for the Cleveland State grad-level curriculum, and acculturate to grad school in Cleveland with social events. Cleveland State’s coding bootcamp sets grad students up for success because they enter their curriculum comfortable with the difficulty level and prepared for their future coursework. 

Coding Bootcamps Can Help You Succeed

Whether you decide to pursue your computer science and programming education the traditional way or through an accelerated program like a coding bootcamp, make sure you prep and do your research. Coding bootcamps produce thousands of success stories a year. They could even help diversify the tech industry by increasing access to a programming education by offering lower price points and more flexibility. But there are many things to consider, such as class type, payment options, and career outcomes. Do your homework, make sure the program offers the courses you want on a schedule to which you can commit, and you will find the right path for you to a career in the tech industry. 

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