Coding Bootcamps, are they still worth it?

A dive into the world of coding bootcamps. My experience with them and if they are still worth it.

It's circa 2018, your friend just dropped out of grad school and said he's attending a "coding bootcamp." You're confused, what is a coding bootcamp? Is it a scam? Is it worth giving up grad or medical school for? These were the questions I asked myself constantly during that year. Since 2015, coding bootcamps have been on the rise. It seemed like a giant chunk of my friends were leaving their jobs to attend these bootcamps. I was skeptical at first, but after attending one myself, I can say that it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

But what about now?

We are undeniably in a recession whether people (or governments) want to admit it or not. Since COVID, the job market has been extremely volotile for all industries, but especially for tech. So many trends have come and gone, but one thing that has exponentially grown is the number of coding bootcamps. Course Report estimates that there are over 100 coding bootcamps in the US alone. With so many bootcamps, it's hard to know which ones are worth it and which ones are scams. I'm here to help you navigate the world of coding bootcamps and help you decide if they are worth it for you.

Hindsight 20/20

Now that I've been in the industry for a few years, I can of course look back and think, "damn, I could have learned all of that on my own instead of paying 15 grand." And that's true, I could have. But I didn't. I was working a full time job and didn't have the time or energy to learn on my own. I needed a structured environment to learn in. I needed a community of people to learn with. I needed a mentor to guide me. I needed a career coach to help me find a job. I needed a lot of things that I couldn't get on my own. So I decided to attend a coding bootcamp.

It doesn't have to be like that for you though. You are your greatest critic (or it should be like that, anyway). If you know yourself well enough to know that you can learn on your own, then do it. If you're anything like me and need to put yourself in a place of accountability, then a coding bootcamp might be for you.


I know, it's expensive. But you have more options now. There were only a handful of bootcamps back then, each costing over $10k. These days, there are so many bootcamps that you can find one that fits your budget. There are even free, self-paced ones! I've listed a few below:

  1. The Odin Project
  2. Free Code Camp
  3. App Academy Open
  4. 100Devs

I've been consistent on my message regarding coding bootcamps and that is, "you get what you put in." If you're going to pay $15k for a bootcamp, you better be putting in the work. If you're going to attend a free bootcamp, you better be putting in the work. If you're going to learn on your own, you better be putting in the work. You get the point.

Avoid scams

The acute increase in success of these coding bootcamps have brought along bad actors in the industry. At the end of the day, these institutions are just businesses, so you have to make sure you take everything they say with a grain of salt, and do a ton of your own research.

One thing that I personally find to be "scammy," are the income share agreements (ISA). These are contracts that you can get into with a coding bootcamp, where you agree to attend the bootcamp for free, but once you obtain employment, you have to pay a certain percentage back to the institution as payment.

ISA's are an attractive way to give coding bootcamps a shot, but I find them extremely predatory. I've seen bootcamps requriing students to pay back anywhere between 5 - 20% of their salary for 2 - 4 years. That's a lot of money. I've also seen bootcamps requiring students to pay back a certain amount of money, regardless of whether they find employment or not.

Yes, you can get the education upfront for free, but the cost afterward is extremely high, especially since many potential students make decisions based upon fabricated or false information. So many bootcamps advertise that 95%+ of students find a 6 figure salary job within 3 months of graduating and that is very far from the truth. I've looked at the numbers not only in my bootcamp, but in many others, and the numbers are much lower than advertised. All of my friends who have attended coding bootcamps have also attested to shady marketing practices to get students to enroll. Just do your research and beware. My best advice is to speak with alumni. Most will give you the honest truth. Heck, ask me. I'll give it to you straight!

What to look for in a bootcamp

I would argue that the most important part of a coding bootcamp is the instructor group. The experience that you and your cohort have is heavily dependent on who instructor is and how well they provide information to you. I had a group of instructors and unfortunately, my lead was not qualified to be there, which I feel had a negative impact on my experience. Thankfully, the other instructors were excellent and made up for the negative experience of my lead instructor. When looking for bootcamps, do heavy research on who the instructors are and their experience. Maybe reach out to alumni on LinkedIn and ask questions about their experience.

The next most important part would be the curriculum. What are they teaching? Is it relevant to the industry? Is it up to date? Are they teaching you how to learn or are they teaching you how to code? These are all questions you should be asking yourself when looking at a bootcamp. You wouldn't be able to really answer any of these questions unless you do some prerequisite research. Again, ask alumni, ask others in the industry, ask the bootcamp itself.

Shop around. Be picky. You're paying a lot of money for this, but more importantly, you're investing a ton of your time. When I went through coding bootcamp, it was the default choice to attend a bootcamp that revolved around JavaScript. Most bootcamps still do revolve around just front-end focused JavaScript, but one trend I've noticed in the job market as of late, is the desire to hire someone with strong backend skills with languages like Python, Go, and even C#. Technology is always changing and you need to be able to adapt to it.


Becoming a developer is dedicating yourself to a life of education. You will never stop learning, growing, or adapting. You will always be a student. If you're ready to take that step, then a coding bootcamp might be for you. If you're not ready to take that step, then this career might not be right for you. A coding bootcamp is as valuable as you make it. Do your research. Tons of it. By the time you apply to a coding bootcamp, you should already to know the answer to many of the questions I've asked in this article. You should already know the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. You should already know what you want to get out of the bootcamp. You should already know what you want to do with your career. You should already know if you're ready to take this step.

If you don't, then you're not ready. And that's okay. Take your time. Do your research. Don't rush into things.