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George Hanson
George Hanson

Posted on • Originally published at georgehanson.co.uk

Are Web Development Bootcamps Worth It?

Over the past couple of years, web development bootcamps have sprung up all over the place. It now seems to be the goto place for would-be developers to get started within the industry. There are some pro's and con's to going through a bootcamp, so is it worth it?

Well the answer to that (like most code related questions) - it depends.

Benefits of Web Development Bootcamps

The main reason in my opinion for the rise of bootcamps is undoubtedly the support they offer. Now not all bootcamps are equal and some are just plain terrible. But I'm just talking about the reputable ones here.

You have the support and guidance of not just the tutors, but the other students who are going through the same bootcamp. If you are someone who has difficulty self-teaching then this is a massive benefit.

Another key benefit of enrolling in a web development bootcamp is the top-quality learning resources. Whether these are videos, textbooks or codelabs you have the re-assurance that you are learning from high quality resource material that has already been vetted for accuracy and completeness. When you are self-teaching, you have to do this research yourself.

One thing I hear bootcamp students mention all of the time is just how much they learn within a short space of time. These courses can be intensive and you have to put a lot of work into them. But because of the high quality curated content you are consuming, you do learn lots within a short period of time. But it is worth bearing in mind that this can be seen as both a pro and a con. You still need to have enough experience working with something for it to fully stick in your head, you can't just quickly glaze over something and remember it all perfectly.

Cons of Web Development Bootcamps

The first con I'd like to mention about web development bootcamps is the price. These bootcamps can get very expensive very quickly. They often range from $5000 to $25000+ which unless you have a bunch of cash in the bank means borrowing or financing. Straight away you are putting yourself into debt before you get a job. Which leads me nicely onto my second point.

You do not have a guaranteed job afterwards.

A lot of bootcamps like to highlight how much earning potential there is as a web developer, but in reality you still have to go out and find the job. You don't get it handed to you on a silver platter and unless you continue to put hard work and teach yourself after you have finished you will find progression to be extremely difficult.

It is important to remember that web development bootcamps are not a "magic bullet".

So, are they worth it?

Well, as I said at the start of the post it depends. For some people it works as an excellent way to get into the industry, but it is important that you manage your expectations. While there are some people who do go through bootcamps and land the well-paying job straight away; a lot of people don't. So just be prepared to put work in, especially if you want to progress your career further. Technology is changing at such a rapid rate.

In my personal opinion if you feel like you are able to self-teach and you are able to take your time, there are plenty of free resources that teach you everything you need to know. But if you are comfortable with bootcamps, go right ahead.

Whichever route you chose to go down, just have fun!

This article was originally posted on my blog at https://www.georgehanson.co.uk/blog/are-web-development-bootcamps-worth-it

Discussion (10)

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bartmr profile image
Bartmr

I'm an artist that took a bootcamp 2 years ago, with no previous coding experience or even a bachelor degree. I am mostly a skeptical person, mainly because I watch how much bullshit startups sell all the time.

I took a bootcamp here in Portugal called Academia de Código, which transforms unemployed people from any background or educational level into full stack developers. They teach hardware notions, design patterns, tooling, and computer science history, from Margaret Hamilton or Dennis Ritchie to Aaron Swartz and Richard Stallman. We also get a lot about Unix and networking. The premise is that you get the basics of coding and then you draw your own path. Some colleagues of mine chose COBOL, or went to the car industry. We all got our jobs in a week or two, and we come out in newspapers as "the miracle startup that is beating universities". We get into senior positions way faster than the rest of the people here in Portugal. I myself am impressed from what I achieved. I am given the liberty to decide how new programs will be created.

Bootcamps are worth every penny. They give you the mindset, the culture and the lack of burocracy needed for you to grow at the maximum pace you can. They make you the fun person in a team of developers way to burned out from college or from not being able to deal with upper management. Bootcamps do not also teach you hard skills, but they give you a set of tools to explain to people the implications of coding and engineering in a human and fun way.

Bootcamps are the embodiment of the difference between theory and practice.

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lysofdev profile image
Esteban Hernández

A big warning from personal experience. I'm a self-taught developer but I was having a hard time getting my foot in the door. I was however already very adept at web development. A bootcamp (I wont mention the name but a lot of them do this) will seek out people like me who really just need a bit of help to land a job as a way to increase their percentage of hired graduates. I was given a free ride and landed a job right after completing the course. However, about half of my colleagues, many of which paid $10k+ didn't land jobs at all. Most of them had little to no coding experience and honestly 6 months is very little time to learn. However, a few people who had never coded before the bootcamp did in fact land jobs just like me. My thoughts are that if you are willing to put your life on hold and live and breathe code for the duration of the bootcamp then it may very well be worth it but yea it's going to be tough!

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jameesy profile image
Jamees Bedford

At the end of the day, it comes down to self-awareness.

I know full well I wouldn't flourish in a Bootcamp environment, as I have my own style of learning. Whereas someone else would benefit heavily from working in a group setting. That's fine, there is no right or wrong.

Self-awareness is the underplayed strength of coders, without a doubt. Once you truly understand how YOU work/learn/perform to the best of your ability, then you will be able to develop yourself much faster and quicker than anyone else who doesn't have that insight.

I like the comment that Bartmr left though:
"Bootcamps are the embodiment of the difference between theory and practice."

For those that avoid the Bootcamp route, open-source will give you the practice you require.

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darkes profile image
Victor Darkes • Edited

Personally I believe nothing is worth it if you don't believe in yourself. You have to really want it and you have to be self-motivated. Bootcamp and university are not relevant if you don't have the motivation to learn outside of either types of environments.

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wizardrogue profile image
Joseph Angelo Barrozo

Good read. Thanks! How long do your typical bootcamps last?

Based on my experience here in the Philippines, typical bootcamps are cheap, last between a few days to a week, however they do manage to equip their attendees with git, and basic web development. To their disadvantage however, one can easily identify bootcamp applicants from the rest because their portfolios usually consists of a github.io page coupled with a few, dare I say it, mediocre "projects."

Unfortunately I have yet to meet a competent bootcamp applicant. By no means does this dictate the quality of the applicants but rather by the quality of the bootcamps available in the country.

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Firoz Ansari

In my opinion, these boot camps are just a waste of money. You can learn anything you want these days if you know how to find these video tutorials on YouTube/Udemy/SkillShare. It's all come down to your willpower and commitment, and to learn how to learn.

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Eljay-Adobe

Bootcamps can be a great way to learn, if that style works for the student. It works for me.

My community education center has 1 day (full day) web development bootcamps for $89. They also offer 1 to 5 day adult educational courses in other areas of programming and technology.

I also learn well from introduction and tutorial books. Most technical books cost $40 - $60. Finding a good one can difficult, since there are many available, which vary in quality and topicality (since technology moves so fast).

What does not work for me, but does work for many people, are online instructional videos from places such as Channel 9, Lynda, Pluralsight, and many others. Even free ones on YouTube.

So for those who don't have $25,000+ to go to a bootcamp (and at that price, it is probably a bootcamp retreat), there are good alternatives which may-or-may-not work for your learning style.

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darkes profile image
Victor Darkes

I'm a big fan of Lynda as well!

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chiadrum profile image
Victor Chiappetta

In my opinion, having taken a boot camp and struggled mightily, I believe that preparation before starting is key. Coming in cold as I did I found it basically impossible to keep up. And I have a long career in technology fyi. I do believe that if I was given better guidance that the curriculum was very useful. The teachers did a miserable job of explaining how to use the class material and how to maximize the time that you put in. I got caught up in the tutorial rabbit hole. If I would have known to simply work the course lessons slowly and repetitively I believe that I could. have done fairly well. In the end it was a disaster. for me. I highly recommend getting good at HTML/CSS first and having a strong grasp of Javascript before you walk on. Otherwise you could be on for a rough ride.

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David Costa

Hey man. Excellent article.