In the past five years, the coding bootcamp industry has grown to more than 90 full-time programs across the U.S. Growth is good in many ways. A growing market with more competition means more choices for students and greater acceptance of non-traditional tech employees in the industry. Unfortunately, the downside of such intense competition is the shift in focus we’ve witnessed from many bootcamps, a shift away from creating access to generating leads. In such a competitive environment, some bootcamps exaggerate their employment rates to attract new students, making it difficult to determine the individual and collective credibility of these programs.
We have long taken a stance against this misleading practice and have encouraged students to look beyond the inflated success rate percentages touted by other bootcamps and ask more relevant questions of the programs they are considering. Now, the National Consumers League (NCL), which heralds itself as “America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization,” has shared a guide to help students sidestep false advertising claims and identify valid coding bootcamps that will provide real opportunities to access tech jobs after graduation. The advice provided by the NCL is a great start to determining the quality of a bootcamp, and we have a few of our own tips to add to the list.
Tips from the National Consumers League:
Beware of too-good-to-be-true job placement claims.
Bootcamps advertise impossibly high job placement rates and starting salaries to lure prospective students. Unless you are aware of and understand the methodology behind a bootcamp’s outcomes report, which often relies on cherry-picked data, don’t be fooled by vanity metrics when choosing a coding bootcamp.
Make sure that the schools you’re considering are licensed in your state.
Aside from inflated job placement statistics, students should be aware of schools operating without a state license — a legal requirement. Dev Bootcamp is one of only a handful of schools to have proper licensure in every state it operates. A licensed training program must abide by very strict rules and regulations, established by a third party, to protect consumers from fraud, thus making it a more credible option. If a bootcamp isn’t licensed, it doesn’t have any legal obligation to refund your tuition should it close for any reason or at any time.
Don’t rely solely on advertising materials provided by the bootcamp operator.
Students should speak to alumni who have first-hand knowledge of the training program, assess the qualifications of instructors, and read independent reviews on sites like Course Report.
More tips from Dev Bootcamp:
Consider what you hope to achieve with your coding education.
A successful outcome after bootcamp graduation looks different for different students. At Dev Bootcamp, our students come with diverse backgrounds and have a variety of ideas of what success is. Some want to get their foot in the door in the tech field and some want to learn coding to start their own businesses or get ahead in a current job. We believe the only outcome that really matters is the outcome that is most important to an individual student.
Ask if the bootcamp offers dedicated career support during and after the program.
Students enrolled in Dev Bootcamp’s full-stack web development program receive the guidance, coaching, and support they need to find a job in tech. You can count on one-on-one coaching time with a dedicated career developer, job searching strategies, and technical interview training and practice. Get access to our proprietary employer platform where you connect directly with hiring managers, membership in our vast and vibrant alumni community with frequent networking opportunities, and work space on our campus to focus on your job search and preparation. Graduates say our lifelong community contributed the most to their success.
Determine whether the bootcamp’s core values align with your own.
Here at Dev Bootcamp, we pride ourselves on providing access to technical training for people from all backgrounds. We believe diversity in teams contributes to innovation, resulting in better technology for everyone. In 2016, the percentage of women and minorities enrolled in our program grew from 19% to 31%. We’re continuously launching initiatives to deliver on our commitment to diversity in tech, including the inaugural award of 24 full-tuition scholarships through the DBC Access Fund this spring.
When searching for the right bootcamp, there’s a lot of choices out there. Hopefully the tips from the NCL mixed with some of our own can help you weed through the sound and fury. But, don’t just take our word for it. Read what Erica Prenga — Dev Bootcamp alum and Adobe experience developer — had to say about her experience choosing a coding bootcamp, the variables she considered, and ultimately why she decided to join our community.