Looking for a career change? How coding boot camps could make tech jobs a reality (2023)

Thesewere Annie Cochran'sjobsto pay her bills a year ago: freelance graphic designer.Contractor. Model and whiskey sales representative.

She ditchedthosegigsto pursue a career in tech. Now Cochran, who lives in Cincinnati, leads a team of software engineersto ensureonline deliveries go smoothly for the Kroger grocery chain.

Around the same time, Wes Woods struggled to make ends meet. He wasa bartender, a DJand a deliverydriver in Cleveland. He, too, made a similar career pivotto tech and now works as a software developer at J.P. Morgan Chase in Columbus, Ohio.

Bothwere recipients ofRepresentTech, a scholarship to getmorewomen, people of color, and those in the LGBTQ community working intech. It's part ofTech Elevator, an intense 14-week software developer training program also known as a "coding boot camp."

"I tooka bet on myself. I didn't have any coding background besides putting sparkles on my MySpace page back in the day," said Woods, 34. "It's rigorous work in a shortspan, but if you want something bad enough to change your life, you'll find a way to do it."

Woods is among the more than 3,100studentsnationwide who graduated from Tech Elevator, now considered one of the top-ranked coding boot camps in the U.S. bythe Council on Integrity in Results Reporting(CIRR), a nonprofit that reviews boot camps and report their data, and theCourse Report, an online research platform.

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For Cochran and Woods, their uniqueentriesinto the competitive tech workspace also come at a juncturewhen women and underrepresented groups in tech still remain dismal.

Women hold about a quarter of all jobs in tech, whileBlack Americans have 7% of employment, HispanicAmericans have about8% of jobs, and Asian Americans about 20% of positions, according to areport ofvarious statistics compiledby Zippia.com.

Womenalsohold about 28% of supervising jobs in tech, the Zippia study shows.

"It's exciting," said Cochran, 36, who has been working in Kroger's technology and digital division since May. "Ihave a great team that works so collaboratively."

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Are coding boot camps worth it?

While coding boot camps have been seen as popular routes for computer science training, some problems have been reported.

In July, three students reachedsettlementswiththe San Francisco-based Lambda School(now called Bloom Tech). The studentsclaimedthat the school misledthem either through inflated job placement rates or by havingthem signincome sharing agreements, or ISAswhich let students defer most or all of the tuitionpayments until after theygeta job.

Similar to doing research while looking for a college, aspiring students should do their due diligence with coding boot camps,said Liz Eggleston, co-founder of Course Report.

She said students should consider available freecoding coursesand ask for data on graduation and job placement rates.

"Any reputable boot camp should be able to give you that information," Eggleston said.

The short roadtoa career in coding

Tech coding boot camps typically provide a shorter career route than college courses. There are thousandsof boot camps through private programs, nonprofits,colleges and universities offering professional and continuing education coursesacross the country.

They're offeredin an effort to bring more employees into the in-demand tech sector which contributed around $1.8 trillionto the U.S.'overall economy and about9.3% of total the country'stotal gross domestic product (GDP), according to business data website Statista.

Completing a tech boot camp is "onebig piece of a largepuzzle" to get a lot of job offers in your inbox,said Kyle Elliott, a career coach who works withSilicon Valley's high-endtalent.

"It is not a golden ticket to landing a jobin tech," Elliott said. "There's also networking, building your portfolio, having a clear objective, and setting realistic expectations."

Eggleston said coding boot camps are similar to traditional vocational training programs that teachskills like becominga mechanic or a welder.

Some boot camps offer courses ranging from 14to 24 weeks, oreven up to a year. In addition to Tech Elevator, other notable boot camps include the Flatiron School, Launch Academy, Caltech, Codeacademy, Fullstack Academy, Thinkful, Coding Dojo, and App Academy.

There also arecoding boot camps at major schools including the University of California, Los Angeles(UCLA), the University of California, Berkley, the University of Texas at Austin,the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and the University of Arizona.

Roughly about 25,000 studentsin the U.S. and Canada graduate annually from full-time immersive boot camps that last for 10 to 14 weeks with an average tuition of $14,000, Course Report's Eggleston said.

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In a study of nearly 400 boot camps bySwtichup.org, the average employment rate for boot camp graduates atfive of the biggesttech companies isaround a respectable 6%, as competition is fierce for those positions.

And another study conducted by the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR)said about71% of coding boot camp graduates found jobs within 180 days.

"You're not just paying for the curriculum and knowledge that comes with a coding boot camp, but also for their resources and access to the companies they partner with," said Elliott, the career coach.

Tech Elevator says its graduate job rate is about 90%, Launch Academy says its rate is about 78%, andCodesmith in Los Angeles is at about 83%, according to their respectivesites.

Because coding schools are privately owned and operated, they are not subjected toaccreditationsimilar to colleges and universities with the Department of Educationor theCouncil on Higher Education Accreditation.

Instead, many coding schools self-report their data to the nonprofit CIRR, which audits on-time graduation rates, those working full-time six months after graduating, and their average salaries.

How much does a tech boot camp cost?

The cost for a typical coding boot camp ranges from $7,500 to$14,000, according to a 2019 report from RTI International.

Tech Elevator's boot camp costis nearly $16,000, its site said. Cochran and Woods each received aRepresentTech scholarship, roughly $13,175, that covered a majority of their tuition.

More than $1.1 million in scholarships has been awarded to nearly 100 students since Represent Techbegan in 2020, Tech Elevator said. Additionally, the organization said 90% of overall scholarship recipients graduate and 94% of them find a job.

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The average age of students is 31 as most don't come straight out of high school or college, said Monika Royal-Fischer, a campus director at Tech Elevator's Cincinnati location.

"In fact, we don’t expect you to have ever touched a line of code," Royal-Fischer said.

Also, the average starting salary for a Tech Elevator graduate is about $60,000,nearly twice their previousearnings, said MartyMordarski, the organization'ssenior director of campus operations.

Graduates have been hired at companies including JP Morgan Chase, FedEx, Kohl's andPNC Bank, and theywork at major tech companies includingGoogleand Facebook, Mordarski said.

Looking for a career change? How coding boot camps could make tech jobs a reality (2)

Pivoting into coding

Wes Woods said he was always interested in technology, hejust didn't know how to get into the field after getting his associate's degree in applied science at a Cleveland community college.

He was grinding with hismultiple jobs until his then-girlfriend urged him to really commit to getting a tech job. He heard about Tech Elevator and applied. Days later,Mordarski calledWoods, who was in the middle of a delivery route, that would takehim downa new path.

"After that chat, I was invited to take the assessment to get into the program. Martywas the one who delivered the news to me that I was accepted," said Woods who also receiveda Represent Tech scholarship and kept working on weekends to make ends meet.

He also believes that Tech Elevator's Pathway Program, which pairs students with a professional coach,sharpened hisskill set topreparefor interviews with potential employers.

But Woods had somedoubts twomonths after graduating and seeing some of his classmates already lined up with tech jobs. "I was getting anxious," Woods said. "I've got to pay rentand wondering,'Am I going to have to dobartending full-time?'"

He had a heart-to-heart with his Pathway director Katie Schrader about his "limbo" state. Soon, Woods got a call from JP Morgan Chase for a job interview. He was later offered a software developer job to work in either New York City, Chicago, or Columbus, Ohio.

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Woods chose Columbus to be closer to home and the city's lower cost of living. He works on a team at JP Morgan Chase called Regulators and it works onConsumer & Community Banking, or CCB.

"This has been a life-changer for me," he said.

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'Who do I want to be?'

Before her current job , Annie Cochran admits having some tough times.

Two years ago, she returned home toNorthern Kentuckyfrom England. Cochranhad a small catering company and a baking business there when shesplitup with her husband who workedoverseas as a researcher.

Cochran said the split, and subsequent divorcetook theirtoll.

"At the time, I asked myself, 'What am I going to do, and who do I want to be?' " Cochran said.

Cochran'sbrother, a software developer,encouraged her to give his profession a shot.

"The more I looked into it, I thought (being a developer)really is about solving problems, using logic and your creativity, something that I would really enjoy and be challenged that'salso learning and enriching," Cochran said, who hasdegrees in Spanish and literature.

She looked into Tech Elevator in Cincinnati and thought she could afford the tuition- if she kepther multiplejobs and got a corporate sponsor to help offset costs. The sponsorship didn't materialize, but Tech Elevator insistedCochranapply for a Represent Tech scholarship, which she got lastSeptember.

Cochran's supervisor at Kroger, Yuka Sakumoto-Schmidtsaid Cochran is "building strong partnerships" and "a great culture" with her engineering team.

"She is quickly wrapping her arms around the technical product she owns and is connecting the dots in a highly complex environment," Sakumoto-Schmidt said.

At Kroger, Cochran helps run the national grocery chain's newBoost customer loyalty upgrade, where an annual membership gives customersunlimited grocery deliverieson orders of $35 or more andfuel discounts of up to $1 per gallon.

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"Switching careers is definitely scary," Cochran said. "But if you're not feeling challenged enough, don't be afraid to take a leap of faith."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How coding boot camp can lead to new career path with a tech job

FAQs

What can you do after a coding bootcamp? ›

What can I do after a coding bootcamp? Bootcamp grads often find employment as web developers, software developers, data scientists, and UX/UI designers. Some specialize in a specific language, such as Java or Python.

How do you transition to a coding career? ›

Coding bootcamps as a training method

Career changers have three options. They can teach themselves using resources on the Internet, study a bachelor's degree in computer science, or join a coding bootcamp. Self-learning is excellent if you are the type of person who likes to study and explore a topic autonomously.

What is the best coding for boot camp? ›

Best Bootcamps for Coding
  • Flatiron School. Based in New York, the Flatiron School boasts nine locations across the U.S., along with a virtual campus. ...
  • Fullstack Academy. ...
  • Hack Reactor. ...
  • Lambda School. ...
  • App Academy. ...
  • Thinkful. ...
  • Springboard. ...
  • General Assembly.

What projects are in a coding bootcamp? ›

The Top 10 Programming Project Ideas for Beginners
  • 1) Build a Multi-Page Responsive Website.
  • 2) Redesign an Existing Website Template.
  • 3) Design a Small JavaScript Game.
  • 4) Create a Simple Application.
  • 5) Random Number Generator.
  • 6) Web Scraping Using Python.
  • 7) Build a Working Chess Game.

Is it hard to get a job after coding bootcamp? ›

Getting a tech job after a coding bootcamp is very possible, but not necessarily pain-free. The days/weeks/months after a bootcamp is completed come with a learning curve of their own, and often include rejection and serious contemplations of what you're doing with your life.

Does Amazon hire from bootcamps? ›

Graduates from the top coding bootcamps can access careers at tech companies of all sizes. The Big Five tech companies — Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and Amazon — all have a history of hiring bootcamp graduates.

Is 35 too old to learn programming? ›

Let's get this out of the way: no, you are not too old to program. There isn't an age limit on learning to code, and there never was. But all too often, insecurity and uncertainty compel older adults to put a ceiling on their achievement potential.

Can a 40 year old learn code? ›

Learning to code can be daunting to those of any age, but after three decades of technological absence, it's easy to doubt your abilities entirely. Fortunately, people like Hart and Barnett are here to tell you that learning to code after 40 is not only possible, one can even make a new career out of it.

Can I start IT career at 40? ›

It's never too late to pursue a career in tech. You don't even need a four-year degree to launch into it. All that's really required is a willingness to learn and a determination to succeed.

What is the next step after coding? ›

After the coding phase, the team can then move on to the next step of development, which is testing.

Can you get a job with only coding bootcamp? ›

Course Report discovered that 79% of coding Bootcamp grads are employed full-time 1-6 months after finishing their coding program. Over 80% stated they were using the coding skills learned in their Bootcamp and another 51% saw an increase in their average salary by $23,724.

Is a coding bootcamp worth it? ›

Coding bootcamps are worth it for students who need to learn a specific skill quickly. Employers generally regard these programs positively, but want more accountability. Bootcamps are not regionally or nationally accredited. A coding bootcamp does not replicate the depth or scope of a computer science degree.

Is coding bootcamp better than a degree? ›

Coding bootcamp actually gives you more relevant and useful tools for a job than a computer science degree. While the degree sets you up with a solid foundation, a bootcamp teaches you specific skills that you can use immediately in a job.

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