Information technology bootcamps solve the fundamental problem of training a rapidly evolving tech workforce. Making a mid-career change within the tech industry has become increasingly common. The need to rapidly retrain and learn new skills for a new job has led to the creation of the tech bootcamp.
What is an IT Bootcamp?
Bootcamps significantly expedite the learning experience that job seekers gain in a master’s degree. For 8 to 24 weeks, the student is completely immersed (usually full-time) in a program designed to develop the skills, portfolio, and connections that will maximize the likelihood of successfully pivoting to a new field. IT bootcamp programs are typically marketed by private, for-profit companies to mid-career professionals seeking to upskill or completely change the kind of work they’re already doing.
Bootcamps emphasize practical skills, content and professional development, and interview preparation, which is cheaper and faster than traditional education. Most IT bootcamps feature hands-on projects where students develop their own software programs, web apps, and other digital tools.
IT Bootcamps Online
While remote boot camps already had rising momentum over the last few years, COVID-19 regulations pushed remote bootcamps directly into the mainstream. Nearly all programs have pivoted accordingly and developed remote alternatives to traditional in-person classes. This greater availability of online education is expected to continue in future years.
Prospective students have two strong options (in-person and remote) for nearly every bootcamp of interest. In-person programs typically provide more structure and may be a better fit for indifferent students. They tend to foster communities, networks, friendships, and general motivation in a more human way. On the other hand, the ease of access associated with online education may be much more appealing to students with busy schedules and a need for flexibility.
To find and compare boot camps, there are many resources available on the internet. Once you’ve found an interesting program, it’s important to read through reviews from former students who have outlined specific details and assigned a rating for various aspects of the program, including skills, pacing, environment, and workload.
Many students choose to give testimonials directly on Google. Larger sample sizes of reviews are preferred over smaller ones, and an average of 4.5 or higher (on a 5-point scale) is generally considered a strong program.
Information Technology Bootcamp Curriculum
Information technology boot camps tend to operate under the assumption that students have zero experience with programming. Therefore, information technology boot camps will typically start with the basics of programming and computer networking, followed by practical exercises or a project to reinforce these lessons.
Learning high-level languages in a lesson-based environment works well since students can learn small chunks of information at a time, followed by immediate reinforcement.
After completing each section of the course, students are assigned team projects and given about a week to complete and present to the class. This teaches job seekers how to work effectively with other developers, which is an essential skill for working with larger companies and more robust applications. These team projects are invaluable in teaching students how to be team players effectively.
The trademark of an information technology bootcamp is the fast pace, so learning all of these concepts in just a few weeks can feel daunting for many students. To help with this learning process, IT boot camps typically have substantial support and out-of-class resources for students to talk through problems and reinforce skills.
A dedicated team of teachers will mentor each cohort and troubleshoot any students’ issues. Other classmates can be a great resource and are often more than willing to help. If you’re considering an information technology boot camp, ask how the bootcamp will help you complete program requirements and succeed in the workforce.
Once students have a fundamental understanding of programming, the next step is to complete a project that allows them to showcase their skills. These projects are essential and possibly the most important part of bootcamp. Projects enhance learning by the following methods:
- Students can begin to use code repetitively, allowing skills to become more committed to memory.
- Through group projects, students experience collaborative version control in Github and learn how to work with others on technical challenges.
- Students will experience first-hand delegation and conflict resolution situations that will prepare them for working in the tech industry.
- Students can practice presentation and public speaking skills to advance further in information technology interviews and their selected careers.
- Jobseekers will develop a portfolio that they can tailor and present to future employers.
From here, bootcamps can deviate in many directions depending on the setup of their curriculum. Some information technology bootcamps focus on the front-end development of an application, which the end-user sees. Other bootcamps emphasize back-end functionality, which is how the platform works behind the scenes. Finally, some IT boot camps will prepare candidates to work in a full-stack engineering role across both environments.
Although IT bootcamps curricula vary, lessons typically provide knowledge on full-stack web development, software engineering, data science, cybersecurity, and UX/UI product design.
Students will have the opportunity to practice current industry software, tools, and techniques and build a portfolio for prospective employers in a real-life, value-adding context. Every bootcamp makes different decisions in building a technical skills curriculum, so be sure to select one that matches your preferences regarding skills, pace, and learning style.
Length of Information Technology Boot Camps
Although information technology bootcamps can span from 8 to 24 weeks, the biggest factor determining the length of an IT bootcamp is whether the program is full-time or part-time. Full-time programs are geared toward those making an immediate career change, such as candidates who have taken a long sabbatical from their jobs or have left them entirely. This is more in line with the traditional perception of a bootcamp and will typically run for about 10 to 12 weeks.
For students who are continuing to work during their studies, many bootcamps offer part-time alternatives, which generally meet two to three times per week for 18 to 24 weeks.
Bootcamps are specifically designed as an alternative to a master’s program, which may facilitate a similar career change over an extended time frame of 2+ years. Thus, boot camps expedite the job transition process by giving students an education that is less in-depth than a master’s program but more centered around hireability, networking, and portfolio creation.
Cost of Information Technology Boot Camps
At this moment, the current market rate for an IT bootcamp is around $17,000. This is priced as a viable alternative to a graduate program at a fraction of the cost. The length of the program affects the cost, as more resources are needed to service more extended programs. For this reason, longer programs may cost up to $30,000, while shorter programs may charge as low as $5,000.
It is important to identify the value that a program provides. Students can assess if a bootcamp justifies its price tag by examining these factors:
- Access to an alumni network
- Availability of mentors, teaching assistants, and tutors
- Career services
- Emphasis on creating a portfolio
- Employer network
- Hiring events and career fairs
- Job placement or hiring guarantee
- Quality of instructional staff
- Resume guidance
Federal financial aid for IT bootcamps does not exist because private companies typically run them. These boot camps do not receive government oversight, so their attendees are ineligible for federal student aid. However, some information technology boot camps will advertise post-payment plans where students can delay tuition payment until they’re hired.
While gaining technical skills takes up the bulk of time in an information technology bootcamp, most bootcamps also provide career services and professional development. IT boot camps typically provide formal interview preparation, where bootcamp staff members will meet one-on-one with students to simulate the experience they may have when meeting with real employers.
Similarly, IT bootcamps may provide a variety of mock technical questions and coding challenges. Because this assessment style is fairly unique to tech, giving students experience answering technical challenges reduces fear and increases confidence during real-world interviews.
Additionally, bootcamps help students draft and revise their resumes by integrating a student’s former work experience with their new technical skills gained within the program. This allows job seekers to present an attractive package to information technology employers.
Receiving such concrete feedback from tech experts can be extremely valuable and stress-reducing. Although students may initially feel overwhelmed learning so much new material in a short time, this anxiety can eventually turn into the excitement of launching an entirely new career. In the end, the bootcamps that offer the most empathetic and personalized experience to students are the ones that will produce the best outcomes.
Bootcamps aim to connect their students with strong, reputable employers within their network. Information technology boot camps will typically have employees dedicated to contacting and fostering relationships with local companies that can connect with students to set up initial interviews. The reliability and strength of this employer network is often a major factor in a boot camp’s ranking, as they can significantly accelerate the job search for students.
Bootcamp employer networks generally fluctuate based on location, which is why many IT boot camps are concentrated in the San Francisco Bay area. The cost, size, and age of the bootcamp may also affect the strength of their employer network. Older boot camps typically benefit from established employer partnerships. Some boot camps will offer refunds for students who do not obtain a job after graduation, which signals that the bootcamp is confident in successfully facilitating a jobseeker’s career change.
Alumni of IT boot camps can earn approximately 50 percent higher salaries than in their previous jobs. On average, bootcamp graduates earn high five-figure incomes at their second job after bootcamp and cross the six-figure mark in total compensation at their third job.
The type of careers that bootcamp alumni pursue can be adjusted to meet individual preferences within the information technology field. Software developer positions may appeal to some candidates, while computer system and information analysts will attract others. The information security analyst role is projected to remain in high demand for those keen on protecting sensitive data for responsible organizations.
Ready to Sign Up?
While information technology boot camps will market to all job seekers who want to make a career change, the pace and workload can feel challenging to many.
Although an IT bootcamp curriculum may start with computer networking and programming basics, students with prior technical knowledge typically perform better during the course than those with zero knowledge.
Gaining exposure to the material before the start of the program has both academic and emotional advantages since learning to code demands a lot of time and attention through trial and error.
If you’re thinking of joining an information technology bootcamp, you can prepare yourself by studying programming resources on YouTube, Coursera, and LinkedIn Learning. Exposing yourself to the material before registering for a bootcamp will help you gauge your level of interest and reduce stress during the program itself.
With a bit of preparation, curiosity, and the right mindset, students can use bootcamps to accelerate a career transition in a much more efficient and focused way than a full master’s degree.
Do your research, and if you believe that an IT bootcamp is right for you, prepare for an exciting journey that will teach you how to be disciplined and work effectively in the internet technology field after completing the program!