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The State of Coding Bootcamps in 2022

You’ve surely heard about the entire coding bootcamp concept. Crash course in coding, four months of grinding, and then you’re into a new job (hopefully). You’ve also probably heard about how (supposedly) effective they are. Whether it’s the “pay after you’re hired”, “95% job placement rate”, or the “100% job guarantee”…coding bootcamps seem to be exuberating in utmost confidence. Surely, you’re thinking to yourself…”They’re basically guaranteeing me no risk, so how could there be any downside here?!”

The reality is that there’s a lot more than what meets the eye, especially regarding all of these bold marketing claims. We’re not here to tell you that marketing is dishonest…it’s just that you must do your research and read the fine print. You have to be diligent in asking questions and in talking to people who’ve gone through coding bootcamps. While “pay after you’re hired” certainly sounds super straightforward, it’s anything but. There is no shortage of nuances that get buried in small black text beside an asterisk, right below these bold claims. A 95% placement rate doesn’t actually mean that 95% of students who walk into class on Day 1 end up earning a job. As Facebook relationship statuses often say: “It’s complicated.”

Pay After You’re Hired

This is probably the line that gets most people into the door. While it isn’t technically dishonest, it’s also not as simple as it sounds. When you lock yourself into an ISA, or “Income Share Agreement”, you agree to pay off your tuition by surrendering a percentage of your monthly salary to the school, until your entire balance is paid off. While you might be thinking that it’ll be as easy as earning a six-figure salary and then paying a couple thousand dollars for a few months afterwards, that’s not exactly how it works. You’ll want to scrutinize every little detail in any potential ISA, as there are many nuances within the framework. Be aware of details such as salary floors, payment caps, interest rates, repayment terms, and ISA percentages. Any unfavorable imbalances between the above metrics can result in a nightmarish situation. Also realize that while earning six-figures right out of the gate is certainly a possibility, it’s not a default that you can be guaranteed. On the contrary, some coding bootcamps actually won’t even allow you to “job shop”. They’ll require as part of your ISA agreement that you accept the first job offer you land upon graduation, provided it meets the agreed upon salary floor level.

Classroom Instruction

With the advent of COVID-19, online schools started becoming more and more of the norm. In fact, the majority of coding bootcamp instruction (if not all) currently takes place via online instruction. While this may sound convenient, there are some major drawbacks. For one, in-person, “hands on” learning is something that many people yearn for. Additionally, some coding bootcamps have taken advantage of this reality by distributing Teacher Assistants, to go along with pre-recorded video lessons to students. The entire look and feel of a live classroom setting has been replaced by a “go-at-your-own-pace” self-learning environment. While this style of learning certainly works for some people, it’s debatable whether nor not it warrants multiple five-figures of tuition from students.

At Skillspire, we’ve transitioned into fully remote, online instruction…without compromising on the live classroom experience. All of our class sessions are held live in real-time via MS Teams. Instructors and students interact with one another…completely live. Class sessions are recorded for students’ later use, but we never resort to ONLY handing out pre-recorded videos. The recordings are usually for students who miss a class, as well as for students who need to watch things over a few times to fully understand course concepts.

Placement Rates

95% of graduates earned a job, huh? Doesn’t that number seem a bit bloated? Surely, it can’t be the case that only 5 out of every 100 people who walk into this bootcamp on Day 1 end up failing to secure a job afterwards. If you’re skepticism meter is sounding alarm bells, it has good reason to. When you see one of these over-the-top, hard to believe placement metrics being floated out there, you need to immediately search for the asterisk with small, italicized font that will be sitting so innocently, right below it. We’re not here to say that bootcamps are dishonest. On the contrary, you just need to investigate how exactly they are calculating their metrics. Since many people are probably in too much of a rush to sit down and scrutinize, it’s easy for bootcamps to put out these numbers without fear of people figuring out how they truly pull their data.

At Skillspire, we promote our placement rates throughout our website. The difference is…we make very clear to you how that number is derived. Within that placement rate includes people who earned a job, paid internship, unpaid internship, or apprenticeship after taking one of our courses. It also includes people who were taking our courses to upskill for a job, as well as people who didn’t need our career support services. See the difference? Our placement rate isn’t meant to deceive you into thinking that the majority of our students land $100K jobs right after graduating. In fact, we’ll tell you straight up…that’s a very rare occurrence. For a student to come straight out of the gate and land a six-figure job is not at all easy. There is much onus on the students, themselves, to take initiative and get as much out of the course as possible. Skillspire is not a hand holding service where we will magically place you into a high-paying job. You can certainly break into your dream tech company, but you will have to work your tail off outside of class and do what other students aren’t willing to.

Job Guarantees

Who’s going to say no to a 100% job guarantee?! Other bootcamps certainly ask themselves this question while running promotions, but again…it’s not that simple. Some bootcamps will put into contract a minimum salary floor while helping you search for a job. What this means is that they set a minimum (let’s say, $50K) annual salary that you must hit in your job hunting quest. Once you land a job that pays you at least that much, you’re no longer allowed to contine hunting for a new job with a higher salary. Let’s say you have a goal in mind to hit a $72K starting salary, but a company accepts you at $48K. If the salary floor was at or below $48K, you have no choice but to accept that job. Furthermore, it’s going to come down to how well the student has buckled down and absorbed everything that was taught during the program. Ultimately, it’s not on the school to force knowledge down the students’ throats. If the student comes in and puts in half-effort, do you really think they’ll earn a job afterwards? The employers are the ones hiring, and if they don’t see enough meat on your portfolio to justify bringing you onboard, no job guarantee is going to save you.

At Skillspire, we offer you ZERO job guarantees. That’s right! The only thing we do guarantee you is an unpaid internship, right after the course. Our internship program is an incredible way for you to put your skills to use and build out some badly needed experience to brag about on your resume. Aside from that, we will absolutely do everything in our power to help you land a job, but we’ll never make any promises. We’re never set on telling you lies or leading you on for false expectations.

Final Thoughts

The coding bootcamp phenomenon has taken over the tech industry by storm, and there’s much to like about it. Lower transition time, less fluff, less cost, less theory, more technical instruction…the list goes on and on. With that being said, it’s important that you nitpick everything that bootcamps tell you. Verify and crosscheck everything; there’s no reason to blindly accept everything they put out there. We’ve never been shy to own up to the truth, which is exactly why we’ve never been big proponents of ISAs. We don’t believe in charging interest, either. Our placement rates our lower than our competitors”, because we make it clear to you exactly how that number is derived. Sure, we could come up with a formula that yields us the 95% number that everyone else floats out there…but that wouldn’t be doing out students any favors.