As backlash grows against coding boot camps, leaked documents and graduates reveal massive gaps between lucrative job promises and tougher realities
Codingboot camps have skyrocketed in popularity as an accessible way to land a tech career.
- But graduates, recruiters, and other experts say boot camps don't always meet those expectations.
The coding-boot-camp industry went through a boom. The market has grown from just over 2,000 graduates per year in 2013 to nearly 25,000 in 2020, according to data from Course Report. Boot camps also grossed $350 million in tuition revenue from graduates in 2020, according to a Course Report estimate.
Coding boot camps have been a hit, helping people break into high-paying tech roles with little experience. But while the online education centers set out to improve access to
Insider reporting found that some students see a gap between how the schools market themselves and the actual experience. Leaked documents obtained by Insider also revealed several instances of coding boot camps inflating their job-placement rates. Additionally, Insider found that some tech recruiters look down on boot-camp graduates during the application process, and that overall, the cost to attend can outweigh the benefits.
Here's everything we know about the unmet expectations and potential future of coding boot camps:
Some employees and graduates say coding boot camps failed to meet expectations
While the boot camps have skyrocketed in popularity, they've been met with strife from both graduates and employees alike.
At the online coding school Treehouse, for example, Insider revealed a history of "impulsive" management styles. And leaked documents revealed that the Bloom Institute of Technology, formerly called
Plus, companies hiring from the online education centers quickly realized that candidates didn't always arrive with the experience needed to succeed in their new roles. Twilio, for example, said hiring boot-camp grads without additional training was a "recipe for failure," Insider reported.
Generally, the coding-boot-camp industry seems to have fallen short on its promise, which was to connect people historically underrepresented in tech to high-paying jobs at a low cost to entry. Instead, boot camps might have worsened diversity in the tech workforce and have been accused of leaving some graduates in a tough spot — with few job prospects and a hefty tuition bill.
- Lambda School promised a fast and cheap path to a lucrative tech career. Leaked documents and former students cast doubt on that claim.
- Facebook, Twilio, and other tech giants are increasingly paying candidates to learn vital skills on the job to fill the gaps left by coding boot camps
Coding boot camps can improve by working closely with employers and providing more real-world experience
These boot camps are at an inflection point, and those being accused of underdelivering are looking for ways to bounce back.
The Flatiron School, for example, recently pivoted to put the onus on companies to pay for graduates' educations. Companies like Amazon and Liberty Mutual have already signed on for partnerships in which they'll foot the bill and help move candidates into full-time roles, which the programs calls a win for all parties. The idea is that graduates will face less risk and greater access to jobs, while the companies can benefit by increasing the pool of talented candidates.
Recruiters also say they're looking for more technical and hands-on experience from boot-camp grads. So in the future, experts expect boot camps to evolve to focus more on job training instead of just coding education.
- It's increasingly clear that coding boot camps have a mixed track record at helping students find their dream jobs. Here's how boot camps are evolving to meet the challenge.
- This boot-camp graduate turned a rejection into a full-time job at Pinterest, thanks to the company's growing program for hiring people without college degrees or tech experience
For those still considering a coding boot camp, here's how to choose the right fit
Online coding programs aren't perfect, but they might be the best option for newcomers in tech looking for a relatively affordable and accessible education.
To select the right boot camp, potential students should measure metrics like job-placement rate to better understand the likelihood of landing a new role after graduating, experts told Insider. Other factors like cost of the programs weighed against potential salary changes can inform whether the program will be financially worthwhile.
There are also models like income-sharing agreements in which graduates can pay a percentage of their income post-boot camp, instead of fronting the tuition costs. But graduates who took advantage of ISAs said to be wary before signing on. Some reported that tuition payments came out to as much as 25% of their monthly expenses.
In general, people considering a boot-camp education should scrutinize what the education firms promise and weigh other options carefully before making the leap.
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