This guide is all about full stack developer bootcamps, including how the programs work, what you will learn, and how long bootcamp programs take.
Full-stack developers provide comprehensive web development solutions, ranging from data maintenance on the back-end to the visual presentation and user interface on the front-end.
In short, full-stack development is the package deal of website development, upkeep, and improvement. Virtually every company in the world requires an online presence, which puts the full-stack developer in an excellent job market position. The key to getting a good gig is learning how to do something that will always be in demand. Full-stack development is a pretty textbook example of a future-proof career choice. Full-stack developers can expect plenty of job options across both industries and geographic locations (not to mention plenty of remote options).
Why is this position of such great utility to so many organizations? The simple answer is that a solid full-stack developer can fill many different gaps on the tech side of any operation.
The Full-Stack Unstacked
If all of this wasn’t enough, this particular programming specialization also offers significant project management and strategic insights to the organization. As a professional who grasps the interplay of other functional specialists (back-end developers, front-end developers, UX/UI designers, to name a few), this career path is ripe with opportunities for upward mobility. The best leaders once lived in the trenches, and therefore the best project managers in tech have plenty of code-related all-nighters under their belts (or perhaps as bags under their eyes).
A full-stack developer is aware of the difficulties their team will experience and has a sufficient understanding of each function to resolve internal disputes between specialists and contribute to compromises. A manager like this also knows how much work is reasonable to expect from their team and can refrain from piling on too many (or too few) expectations. Generating a timeline or budget for executive leadership is much easier for these big-picture programmers, already thinking at the broadest systems level.
Combining all of this provides a pretty comprehensive sneak peek at the curriculum of the typical full-stack development bootcamp. These programming languages, applied to these objectives (front-end or back-end), will be the main thrust of both lessons and assignments. A common (and effective) approach will include virtual (or onsite) classes that outline how a website is built from start to finish, accompanied by each student implementing this knowledge in building their website.
It’s fair to say that investing in developing these skills is a great way to boost one’s career prospects. It’s not the easiest road into software development. Still, it’s certainly one of the most fruitful and valuable if the developer has the wherewithal to put the time and effort in. Let’s look at some bootcamp options to determine the path of least resistance for anyone with an eye for this career path.
Which Full-Stack Developer Bootcamp?
One of the trickiest aspects of taking a full-stack development program is selecting the right one for your needs. This little segment aims to avoid that dreaded decision paralysis by equipping would-be developers with a way to filter the many options. There are three useful questions to focus on, each with pros and cons. Let’s walk through each set of options before listing out a few good programs to consider:
- Online or Onsite: Not all students take to online learning, as it does require some serious self-motivation and independent drive. There are a few advantages for the online learner, however. The first is cost. Typically an online program will be cheaper and more flexible, allowing students to incur less debt while learning from anywhere.
- Corporate or University: Many universities, such as Colombia and MIT, offer 12-24 week bootcamp programs targeted explicitly at full-stack development skills. As professors and well-reputed researchers often teach these courses, the quality of the program (and the price) is typically quite strong. Corporate organizations (typically private companies) are more common, varied in price, and focused exclusively on bootcamps. This gives commercial programs the advantage of specialized focus and customization.
- Part-time or Full-time: Prospective students should ask themselves how much time they can commit every week. Are they working full-time? Do they have young kids at home? If the answer to either (or both) of those questions is yes, part-time options that spread the typical 12-24 program out over a year is likely the wiser choice. If the student has the free time to go full-time, however, they’ll be able to start that job search in three months. This is a serious advantage for folks driven to find that new career as soon as possible.
Of the three questions above, the trickiest one will be whether or not an online program will be the best learning method. Let’s take a little time to deep dive into the different types of virtual and non-virtual bootcamps.
Online Full-Stack Development Bootcamp
As edtech continues to grow by leaps and bounds, it’s worth briefly exploring the advantages and disadvantages of an online program and briefly outlining the concept of hybrid programs. A hybrid program tries to capture some of the convenience of an online program while keeping a certain number of onsite meetings a requirement to complete the program. Let’s dig a little deeper into each type of program.
One of the primary concerns is whether or not taking a course online will convey these complicated skills as effectively as an onsite program. There is something undeniably useful (and motivating) in having a professor hover over your shoulder, both in terms of instruction and motivation. However, with modern video conferencing technology integrating with screen-sharing, full-stack developers have themselves seemed to solve many of the typical objections one might have to taking an online course.
An online course that produces skills will require students to truly ‘plug in’ and constantly share their work with teammates and instructors. Look for online courses that emphasize one-on-one opportunities to work with expert teachers, even asking programs what the teacher-to-student ratio is to confirm if you’ll receive your money’s worth of professional attention. Students can also request to demo a class or two and see how interactive and experiential the programs are. The key here is to do your research, try out the online environment, and make sure there is significant individual value to be captured.
Choosing the Best Full-Stack Development Bootcamp
Speaking of doing one’s research, another key concern for online programs is the sheer number of options available. Some sources outline the top 50 full-stack bootcamp options, underlining the problem of exploring each one and making a final selection. More options are not always good, as real research takes time. In the spirit of problem-solving, here’s a list of some of the best options our research turned up:
- Colombia Engineering: With 20 hours of (virtual) in-class time per week in Colombia’s full-time program, and another 20-25 hours working on projects, this 12-week program is a true crash course for any up-and-coming full-stack developer.
- MIT xPRO: Coming in at an incredibly affordable $6,950 for the entire program, students can attain a full-stack development (MERN) professional certificate. As a part-timer, students can expect to invest 15-20 hours per week over 32 weeks.
- Fullstack Academy: Ranging in price from $15,000 – $19,000 for a complete program, Fullstack academy specializes in preparing full-stack developers with some useful concentrations. This is a 17-week program, which allows for online or hybrid offerings (including onsite in New York City).
- Flatiron School: While this program is described as a software engineering bootcamp, the curriculum walks students through both front-end and back-end development. Take courses online or onsite (Denver or New York City) for $16,900. Part-time students can expect a 40-week program around 15-20 hours per week, or 15 weeks full-time at 40 hours per week.
If an onsite or hybrid approach is more up your speed, it becomes much easier to narrow down the list of prospective bootcamps. After all, very few people move to another city just for the 3-6 months it takes to complete a bootcamp! The best place to start is the nearest city to your home to make your choice. This allows you to stop into a classroom, speak to your instructors, and set your expectations before making a significant financial commitment.
The Full Cost of a Full-Stack
As outlined briefly in the options above, this financial commitment averages out to around $14,000 for a complete full-stack development program. While some software bootcamps focus on a smaller knowledge base (and can thus be cheaper), a proper full-stack education will be quite time and cost-intensive. Remember that these developers need to learn both the front-end design aspects and the back-end database and server management.
There are three ways to pay, alongside the opportunity to reduce these costs with scholarships. The first way is to pay upfront if you have disposable income. The second way is to set up a loan and corresponding monthly payment plan. Keep in mind that student loans tend to get reasonably good interest rates, which is certainly considered an education investment. If you own your own business, you could even discuss writing it off as an expense for your professional development on your next tax return (do talk to your accountant first).
The final exciting opportunity is an Income Share Agreement (ISA). This is an excellent option for confirming the value of the bootcamp investment, as the organization offering the bootcamp only collects repayment based on how much more money you’re making! Simply put, the agreement stipulates that repayment of the cost of education will wait until the student has found the high-paying they took the bootcamp in pursuit of. Here are a few bootcamps that offer such a service.
Returning the Investment
These income share agreements are an interesting evolution in education, common in a few different trades and select general universities. It indicates confidence that students who take their studies seriously in these fields, including full-stack development bootcamps, are so likely to improve their career prospects that the educational institutions make a bet on their students.
This confidence on the part of educational institutions is not misplaced. There are extensive employment opportunities for full-stack developers. They are also equipped for jobs in UX/UI design, front-end development (web design), back-end development, database administration, and higher-level strategic roles within information technology (i.e., project managers and CTOs). To give a clearer picture, here are a few likely career prospects for the successful survivor of a full-stack bootcamp experience:
- Full-Stack Engineer: With a median salary of $100k/year (and often quite a bit more), this would be a typical role for a recent graduate of a solid bootcamp program. These developers should expect ownership of a fairly broad set of technical responsibilities.
- Front-End Developer: Recently evolving into fields such as user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), a front-end developer specializes in building the customer-facing components of a given app or web development project. The median salary is around $120k/year, likely because front-end roles such as UI/UX are quite new and in demand.
- Back-end Developer: Clocking in a median salary of $100k/year, the typical back-end developer specializes in server-side languages (PHP, SQL) and third-party integrations with cloud data management platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS). Of all roles a full-stack developer is equipped for, this is likely to be the one with the highest demand for new workers.
- IT Management: Managers who succeed at integrating management strategy and big-picture thinking with technology and information systems can expect a median salary of over $150k/year. This is an excellent target for a true full-stack developer who excels at front-end and back-end development and at delegating and organizing these necessary tasks within a team.
For a deeper dive into different localities and functional levels organizationally, this overview of full-stack career prospects and relative salary is an excellent starting point for a little extra research. The simple conclusion is that anyone serious about converting a bootcamp experience into a career can expect to make a six-figure salary within a few years of hard work. All things considered, that’s not a bad return on your investment.
You may still be left wondering if the career path of a full-stack developer is up your alley. Do you gravitate towards systems thinking? Do you thrive in roles where you can fill many different technical gaps? Do you aspire to lead a technical team one day? If the answer to any (or all) of these is a strong ‘yes,’ you have your answer.