Data Analysis: A Guide to Coding Bootcamps – Timestamps

00:00 – Intro

01:13 – Bootcamps

05:33 – What money is there to be made?

07:57 – When will you find a job?

13:17 – What job will you get?

18:34 – Is it right for you?

21:25 – Takeaways and conclusions

24:35 – Ending and outro


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On the first episode of Data Analysis, Tom guides you through coding bootcamps! A new and booming industry aiming to shortcut many eager students into the tech industry. Here Tom discusses what they are like compared to university or college degrees, if they are worth it, the jobs you can expect to find yourself in, the salary you can expect to make among much more. Tom uses real data collected from the coding bootcamps themselves to give advice on how to choose where to go and if it is right for you! You too can find the data at Music by: Joakim Karud –






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Tom:                      Hello Ladies and gentlemen and welcome. I am your host, Tom Jenks and today we are discussing coding bootcamps. Are they worth it compared to a normal degree, salary, job potential and most importantly, what does the data say? Stay tuned to The Method Section.

Tom:                      Yes, that’s right. Welcome to The Method Section a short form podcast aimed at scientists, old and new, and today is something a little bit different. Targeting those early or even before their career for those who want to break into the tech industry, maybe you don’t have a computer science degree or like so many people in this era, it’s just financially not viable. So a good alternative that people keep looking at are coding boot camps and well that’s exactly what we’re going to look at today. Are they good? And not only are we going to just have this kind of opinion, we’re just going to use the data and hopefully come at this at the most point of view that we can to provide you guys who are looking at this with the best advice and options on the market.

Tom:                      So for many bootcamps are a hot and contentious topic. Lots of people say they are profit-driven, all they want to do is make money. And the others say that it’s a great way for eager students to break in to this market that is expanding exponentially. So kind of a bit of background on coding boot camps. Maybe you haven’t heard of them. Maybe this is your first kind of introduction to them. Most bootcamps take, you know, 10 to 28 weeks to complete. The average is 15 to 16 weeks. Now you compare this to a four year bachelor degree at college and it’s a much quicker timeline and just like colleges and universities as we call them here in the UK, bootcamps are not equal. For some the whole premise is designed to get you to think like a software engineer or a full stack engineer or behind the scenes or backend engineer while others will just teach you kind of the quick fix the way to fix things quickly, but not give you the right mindset. As I saidthough, rather than opinions and stories, we’re just going to take a look at the data. Now a lot of organizations and industries have regulating and governing bodies and for the longest time coding bootcamps didn’t have this. But as a response to growing criticisms from all over the board around the globe, a few bootcamps have come to form the Council on Integrity Results Reporting or CIRR. This is an attempt to standardize the metric scale that bootcamps are measured against and provide as much transparency as possible. Because they realize that being transparent is a very good way to accurately compare your bootcamp against others, and if they consider themselves to be good ones, they have no reason to hide. So, my first piece of advice is only maybe consider bootcamps that are within this council and this is growing every single year.

Tom:                      So the CIRR releases data bi-annually now they’ve only been going for a few years so initially this is good but maybe hopefully we can see in the future them to release annually. You can go to to find all this data that we are using to present this to you. Now I will of course link that on our site if you’re listening on our site and I’ll see if I can fit it in the episode description as well. But if not head to our site and you will find it there. Very easy link. So if you are, you know you kind of have a bit of an idea. You’ve heard of a few of them like CodeSmith, Hack Reactor, Turing, Thinkful, all these coding bootcamps. There is such a large choice just as if you’re applying to college or university. Don’t pick one and look at it and if it’s good go there. No. What you need to do is pick top three, top five and go through their day to look at the history. How consistent is it? Is it growing? Is it declining? Is it very sporadic? If so, you don’t know if you’re going to be there on a potentially good year. Statistics do show though that after a graduate has graduated from boot camp and they perform well on their course and they have correct kind of career advice, they will make it into the industry pretty quickly and have high potential to go up the chain from entry level to even chief supervisor. It’s, it’s not uncommon and that is the complete advantage firstly of this industry and bootcamps. When deciding then, one of the main things you need to kind of think about is your return on investment. Is this the right thing for you? Because for some people it’s not. For some people the University / College life is a lot more efficient for them, so that’s what I’m going to try and cover today. Hopefully by the end of this you will know whether this is the kind of the path you want to go down and you can do further research for yourself.

Tom:                      So I guess the real reason why people look at this industry is the money. How much money could you expect to make if you went through bootcamp and landed yourself in a job? Well, as with anywhere else, it is highly variable. You are looking at such factors as location, job specificity, job starting point. So level entry or senior and your previous experience as with the circle of career life, as students especially, you need experience to get a job. You need a job to get experience. That is something I will touch on later. Now, looking at the average salary for half of the graduates from these coding bootcamps, they are making $75,000 a year starting salary, $75,000 a year. Do I have your interest? Good. So taking a bit more of a, a breakdown look at this, CodeSmith, Hack reactor and Turing, most of their students are making between 75 and a 100 thousand dollars a year and even more than that in 2018. The Thinkful bootcamps are making around $75,000 a year and the rest of them generally fall in the range between 50 and $75,000 a year. But I mean even on the lower end, you’re not looking at a bad paid job there are you important things then to know is, as I just said, these are starting salaries. If you are looking to move up in the industry, which this industry just craves is just attracting people to move up in the industry, that is only going to get bigger. The next thing to kind of think about is location. So as I just said, it plays an absolutely massive role and Hack Reactor is in San Francisco and New York, where there are higher living costs and higher wages. So yes, they are looking at a higher salary. So between San Francisco and Chicago, there’s a 35% difference in salary starting salary, but there’s also those associated higher living costs. So it’s all about you. Do you want to be able to move to these places and pay that much or would you rather stay a bit more local to you wherever you are based. Maybe you are local there, but you know, these are all things to consider because at the end of the day is all about how much money you bring in after paying everything and that that’s something only you can figure out.

Tom:                      One of the main concerns people then think of is when will you find a job? Because obviously people are about, hey, I’m investing in this bootcamp money and it’s a lot of money and we will come onto that but when, so when will I find a job? What is the return of investment on this? And one of the most important things I think to mention actually before I jump into that is software engineers and associated titles face one of the lowest unemployment rates in the US of 3.6% there are so many jobs in this industry, in this sector and the minute if you show you are worth it, you will find one. So what the graduates say what the data that they have given seems to suggest depending on what you want, depends on how long you have to wait to secure yourself a job. So are you willing to wait longer for a higher salary or do you just want to get in the industry and just get going, get your career moving. If you are specifically looking for a job with a higher pay grade, it’s going to take longer for that to come around because there just aren’t as many of them. However, if you just want to get into the industry, you can find one very quickly. Most of these bootcamps have a target period that they try and get their graduates into a job by. Now for most of them this is three months and then they have a second target period for a further three months at the sixth month period after completion. Now these bootcamps have actually quite a high success rate of graduates getting a job within these time frames. If you look at Tech Elevator, Software Guild anf ElevenFifty, 70% of their graduates have jobs by three months. 80% have jobs by six months after completion. If you look at Turing Launch Academy and Thinkful 56 to 60% of their graduates have jobs three months after completion. Then if you look at Hack Reactor, it’s 45 to 75% by three months after graduation. Now there’s such a range there because they have a few different schools as I mentioned earlier in San Francisco and New York. What happens then if you don’t land a job in six months, because it is all about keeping your options open, looking for what you want, settling, maybe having some experience and that’s what I mentioned earlier and what I wanted to come on to is experience, getting experience. How hard is that? And also one in the science realm who didn’t really know what they wanted to do for a year. I left university and I was like, ah, I got an a bit of a slump. And I was like, okay, maybe I want to stay in the scientific realm. I want to work in the scientific realm with but with just a bachelor’s, how do I do that? And luckily one of my friends, we were at the pub and he was talking about a site called UpWork and that’s kind of where I got a lot of my experience. I started working as an academic advisor and data analyst for scientists around the world who needed help with publishing their papers or the data within them. So I would say to try and get some experience, look for freelance work it is much easier than you think. There are lots of websites out there who will match you up as clients from around the world and you will work on so many things that you never thought you would. And it just gives you the greatest experience and shows your passion for wanting to work in the industry and that is one of the most important things that managers will look for as someone who hires people onto my team now, that is exactly what I look for. Passion trumps experience. And I think that is exactly what a lot of other hiring managers will tell you as well. Now you may be looking at some of the bootcamps and being like, okay, I’m going to be expected to graduate in three to six months, but what does that mean from now? And the graduation time is highly, highly varied and this is whilst yes, a lot of the courses are on campus, some of them are remote and some of them are even self-paced. So, if you really want to get a good look at this, look at the individual CIRR reports for each bootcamp don’t look at overall because it’s just going to provide a very strange scale that can be kind of hard to view. So I found when looking at that is look at the individual bootcamps that you’re interested in and compare them side by side. Don’t look at the overall data in this sense because some programs it takes a couple of years for people to finish because it is self-paced. However, what is very easy to look at is the percentage of on-time completion. One of the lowest we looked at was Hacktiv8 Jakarta, 24% of the graduates finished on time. Whereas you compare that to Hack Reactor, 90% of them finished on time. So if you’re told this is going to be a 16 month course from starting to landing in a job, that’s what you want to be looking at. That will give you the best estimate of how much you’re gonna stay on track and how well you can get through that in your ideal timeframe.

Tom:                      Okay, so we’ve covered the salary. You might make the time it might take you to find a job and you’ll notice that a lot of bootcamps say this is a 16 month course and that includes you getting into a job. They factor in the time for you getting a job in that as well. But what job will you find yourself in? What career path does this lend you to and that studies have found that we’ve looked at highly correlates to your training. And coming onto what I just mentioned is kind of important to note firstly that hiring managers look favorably at those who have attended coding boot camps and especially when it comes to the soft skills because they realize that you’re going to have good teamwork, passion, persistence. Because in the bootcamps they try and mimic real life working conditions and projects, which at university and college you don’t get the same environment. Yes, you get the work, but the environment is just totally different. So that already shows that hiring managers within the tech industry, regardless of my own opinion or what I said earlier, are looking favorably at graduates from coding bootcamps.

Tom:                      So as I mentioned, the stats say that you are likely to land a job within six months, but what in? What career path does this shoot you towards if you attended coding bootcamp? And that as much as looking at where you want to go is just choosing the right course. The evidence that we’ve looked at suggests that your job will most likely match your training or the course that you’ve done. So if you want to be a full stack developer, do a full stack course if you want to be a software engineer to a software engineering course. I mean that sounds simple, but there are people who, you know at university do a certain course so they can tangent off into others, but they often are four year courses where people change their mind. So with this being like a 16 week course or you know, even longer if you take one of the longer ones… I knowI keep switching between 16 weeks and 16 months, but this does include the time to job and some of them are actually 16 months. You know, you’ll take a 10 month course or a 13 month course with a three to six month completion period on top of that. But yeah, most evidence suggests it will match your training depending on what you want to do, pick that. Because it’s a shorter course, you’re much less likely to change your mind and that’s what you’re going to end up in. The reason why it will likely match your training is because there are so many jobs available in this sector. So that means two things. Firstly, you can find jobs that match your skills. You don’t have to settle for something that’s near enough. You can apply for things that are directly under your training titles, something that you are perfectly suited to, without looking at something else and going, oh, that’s close enough, I’ll do that and learn the transition on the job. Which you have to do in a lot of other areas. You won’t have to do that. Secondly, employers are likely to hire people that best match their training or what they’re looking for. If your course was full stack development and they need a full stack developer, they’re gonna hire you, and the normal kind of positions that seem to come out of this is software engineers, web developers, UX designers, analysts, developers, front, back end and full stack. And with this, the data that I mentioned from, remember the link is on our site, they update the data on their graduates fulltime job positions after they’ve graduated every six months. So, that’s very good and very useful to go and look at, go to a specific course that you want to complete no matter what bootcamp it is and see where are their graduates ending up, what jobs are they in, where is it, maybe even how much are they earning if you’re that way inclined. And of course when considering a future career, it is important to know. So, do some research even before you start looking at bootcamps, decide what sector you want to go into, what interests you the most. So, we took some data from this to see what percentage of graduates are ending up in different positions. If you’re going to the New York CodeSmith bootcamp, 73% of them become software engineers, 8% become front-end, and then 4% become developers, 4% designers, 4% full-stack engineers. Conversely, if you look at Tech Elevator Cincinnati, this is a self proclaimed full-stack academy, so 65% of them end up in software development, 17% as Q/A testers, 13% as web developers and 4% as programmers. Something that not a lot of people think to do when they’re looking at future careers is see what the expected future of these industries is. Now, you can do this very easily by going to the Bureau of Labor Statistics to see how these are expected to grow over the coming years. We did this and so I’ve got the data here for you. The national average for any industry altogether is 7% increase over the next 10 years, but for being a software developer is a 24% increase and web developers it’s 15%. So, that is two to three times more growth than the national average in the u s this is an absolutely fantastic industry to break into that is exponentially expanding and looking for growth. You can get in there in a short time frame with these coding bootcamps and just absolutely break in, be there for the prime explosion of this industry.

Tom:                      But is it right for you? Hopefully the information that I’ve given in this episode so far is helping you understand that, but cost. Cost is obviously a factor. Something I want to mention now, not all bootcamps do this, but it is very interesting to know some boot camps will allow you to pay back the cost of the course once you land your first job. Now for some people who don’t have all the financial availability in the world, this makes it so accessible with such a high likelihood of getting a job as the data shows. There is no reason to say why you couldn’t be someone who gets one where the up to 90% success rate of getting students into their jobs post-graduation within the six month timeframe. I mean it seems like a risk on their part, but at the same time, not. Of course you’ll have to pay it back or will be a percentage of what you earn, I imagine. But still, if you can’t afford to pay that in one go, but they allow you to pay it in retrospect, it makes us so much more accessible to so many more people. Now, while it’s not absolutely the cheapest on average a bootcamp course is, $13,500 but that is with, you know, the, the guarantee of a job 16 months after you start the course now, okay, that isn’t the cheapest. But I mean it is far cheaper than going to college or university, I mean the average is nearly $29,000 if you’re going to college or university in-state or $43,000 if you’re going out of state for which you’d have to spend three or four years there. Right? And I, I think as mainly, it’s, it’s three years here in the UK and in the US I think it’s three or four. So, you’re spending upwards of $120,000 in-state and over 170,000 out of state. That is absurd money. Absolutely absurd. And I know that’s a hot topic for debate, but you know, I’m just going to leave that there. But in light of that, coding bootcamps are I guess, far more accessible. The other thing that I’ve repeated over and over is time, but there’s something I just want to touch on. You’ll look at some academies and they’ll both say time to job from a start of the course is 16 months, but some will be a 10 month course plus six months to job with like maybe a 50% completion rate and the others will be a 13 month course with three months to job and they may have, even if it was higher or the same completion rate or entering into a job rate, that would be worth going with because you get an extra three months experience. Learning, being taught and the time to job is a lot shorter afterwards. That would be my advice, anyway, that’s what the data shows. And I think that’s the kind of this logical way to think about it.

Tom:                      So then, takeaways and conclusions. As you guys know, this is meant to be a shorter form podcast and I know this has been a longer one but hey I this is, this is important. I think it’s good to cover everything with as much data and looking at everything as we can. So what we can take away from this then is it’s going to be a stable career path. There are going to be jobs in this industry for years. Individually it’s good for you because you can come in entry level, move to senior level, move to even chief level if you wanted to. And then economically it’s fantastic because with the rest of the country on average going up by 7% economic growth, you’re hitting 15 to 24% in the next 10 years. You are likely to end up in the field that you trained for. This is very good. I mean, what’s the downside of that? You trained for it, you can work in it and you can only get better with experience. You don’t have to settle for working in something that’s kind of like what you wanted but not. The starting salary is great. I mean, I don’t know what the standard starting salary is in the US but over here if we were talking about that much money we’d know is a pretty good one. So I can only imagine it’s the same for the u s as well. Unfortunately there’s a heavy initial cost that 13 and a half thousand dollars on average, but it’s a lot less than $120,000 if you’re going to college or university for four years and you’re likely to land a $50K – $100,000 job shortly afterwards. I mean seems like it might be a worthwhile investment from that point of view. So is it the right thing to do? Well, that that depends completely on you. Is it good for you monetarily? Investment? Time wise? If you’re looking for a quick job to settle in or maybe if you want room to grow upward in the industry, the data shows that you want to be looking at CodeSmith and Hack Reactor. They have the best stats. They show the best promise for graduates rising up through the ranks and getting jobs quickly within their completion time. The return of investment is potentially incredible if you have the investment ability to start with. If not, you can potentially go down the route of paying for the course in retrospect, once you have your first job. The return of investment is absolutely insane, but as I’ve kept saying throughout this, do your own research, just because somewhere is likely to accept you doesn’t mean it is the right one for you. Take a look around because your future is worth at least that. You owe that to yourself. Look around. Are there different schools that you’d rather go to? Are there different courses you’d rather do in the schools? Look at the data. That once again is You can find the link on the site and I will try and fit it in the description of the episode. Go there, check it out, see what it’s all about. See what the schools are doing. Are they going up? Are they coming down? What jobs are the graduates landing in? Yeah, as I said, you owe it to yourself.

Tom:                      But… as I said, I know we did something a little bit different today. I hope that was helpful to some of you out there who are considering this who maybe even haven’t heard of it. There’s a good introduction, I hope.So yeah, go check it out. If you want to check out all the latest goings on from us, however you can head to you can find us on Facebook and Twitter by searching @ConductScience. If you want to get in touch with us for the main show, for this show, you want to suggest a guest for interviews, you want to share just a topic. Please use the #ConductScience. We check them every single day. We want to interact with you guys because at the end of the day, that is exactly what this is a bout. As usual you can find us on iTunes, Stitcher, GooglePlay, Spotify, and wherever you find your normal podcasts, but something that you guys can do that really, really helps us out is hit us with a follow hit us with a rating. It just absolutely massively helps us out, but that is it from me this week. So I’ll see you guyssss…. A-next tiiiiiime.