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What Is a Coding Bootcamp? Requirements and Steps

A coding instructor points out a line of code to students on a monitor.

The concept of coding bootcamps has been around for several years now, but many people still may be unaware of exactly what a coding bootcamp is and how these programs can help prepare you to achieve your career goals.

Bootcamps are short-term, intensive training programs that provide students with practical and job-ready technical skills. While similar to trade schools, bootcamps tend to focus on teaching marketable technology skills that can be used to find gainful employment quickly.

Today, a variety of learning opportunities in the coding bootcamp space cater to specific areas of interest and are offered in different modalities. Bootcamp topics may range from coding languages to web development, system security, and beyond. As such, enrolling in a coding bootcamp may be an ideal solution for individuals looking to invest in themselves to leap into a programming or tech-focused career.

How Long Is a Coding Bootcamp?

Many prospective students considering a career pivot to a tech-based field should ask, “How long is a coding bootcamp?” The answer depends on the type of coding bootcamp. The general consensus, according to NerdWallet, is that the average length of a coding bootcamp is about 15 weeks; however, programs can vary from six weeks to seven months. Depending on the track of the program chosen, the weekly time commitment can range from between five and 10 hours to a full 40 hours per week.

A number of factors influence the length of a program, such as quality, modality, pace, and flexibility. Some coding bootcamps offer full-time and part-time programs, or allow students to proceed at their own pace. Bootcamps may be available online, in person, or a combination of both. When choosing a coding bootcamp, you’ll want to select a program with a location, availability, and structure that fits your needs.

Students who prefer the face-to-face approach to learning and want to continue working while they study should pursue an in-person, part-time program. Others may live too far away to attend classes in person and need to make a career pivot as quickly as possible. In this case, an online, full-time program may be the best fit. Still, others who possess some technical expertise, and discipline may prefer a self-paced program, however, some prospective students may need the support of live online or in-person instruction to keep them accountable.

How Do You Prepare for a Coding Bootcamp?

While deciding to enroll in a coding bootcamp is a major step in achieving your career goals, remember these programs take commitment. These programs require time and focus for students to be successful and get the most from the experience. With coding bootcamps especially, you should expect the program to be a burst of activity, such as learning coding terms and technical topics, tackling workshop assignments, working on solo and team programming projects, and immersing yourself in web development. That being said, taking the following steps can help you prepare for a coding bootcamp.

Preparing to Apply

When researching coding bootcamps, seek answers to all of the questions you have about a program to ensure you're making a decision you’re comfortable with. You should have a firm grasp of the program’s curriculum, costs, start date, length, and program outcomes. Be aware of the various application deadlines, so that you have enough time to gather the necessary information to submit your application. Also, take note of any additional requirements for the application process, such as assessment tests and admissions interviews. At this point, nothing should be unclear, and you should know exactly what you’re in for.

Preparing for an Admissions Interview

One part of the enrollment process you should prepare for is the interview, which will help the admissions team determine if you’re a good fit for the program. To prepare for a coding bootcamp interview, start thinking about why you’re interested in coding, what your ideal career path looks like, and what your goals are. Acing your interview will not only help to ensure that you’ll be admitted to the program of your choice but also help you define goals for yourself to stay motivated throughout the bootcamp.

Preparing for Classes

If you’re making a career pivot or a beginner to coding, you may be unfamiliar with some of the subject content or learning format in bootcamps. Use the time before the program starts to take any bootcamp prep courses you want or need. This will help you set expectations for your bootcamp experience, and learn foundational material early. Although not required, time invested upfront will be time well spent, as it will lessen the learning curve.

Additionally, consider what materials would be helpful to prepare for a coding bootcamp. It could be a new computer, a new desk, or other improvements to your workspace. Creating a comfortable, quiet space where you can work productively will be a major asset for success in a coding bootcamp. Even if you’re studying on-site, you’ll likely want to study and work from home occasionally.

Paying for a Bootcamp

If you’re considering a coding bootcamp, you’re likely wondering if the cost of a bootcamp is worth it. The average cost of a coding bootcamp is $13,728, which is still far less expensive than a typical four-year college degree, according to NerdWallet. Students can pay for bootcamps in a number of ways, including using their own personal funds, taking out a loan, or checking with an employer to see if they offer continuing education assistance.

To prepare for a coding bootcamp you should also plan for living expenses that will arise. A good idea is to minimize unnecessary costs and save enough money to cover a few months of expenses until you’re employed after the program ends. You’ll also need to budget for textbooks or any of the items you need to furnish your workspace at home if you choose.

By securing funding in advance or calculating your budget, you can avoid financial headaches while gaining your desired job skills.

What Are the Skills Required for a Coding Bootcamp?

The content of coding bootcamp programs centers mainly on math, as well as other quantitative and analytical skills. Familiarizing yourself with the skills required for coding bootcamp programs is beneficial before beginning one so you can build on a strong foundation. The more thought and preparation you devote upfront to this experience, regarding what you want to learn and why, the more you’ll ultimately get from the program.

Most coding bootcamps focus on full-stack JavaScript, while others are split among Java, Python, Ruby on Rails, and .Net. You can narrow down which coding bootcamp to attend by having some familiarity with these languages and knowing what makes them different. The ability to speak knowledgeably about these fundamental coding languages and concepts is also helpful when interviewing for programs or jobs.

While often overlooked in technical fields, having strong communication skills when working toward a coding role is important. In their careers, bootcamp graduates frequently work on teams where being able to collaborate and communicate effectively with others is essential to success. During your bootcamp, consider making it a priority to work with fellow students in study groups or on assignments to practice teamwork and communication.

Honing the following nontechnical skills required for coding bootcamps will help you succeed in your chosen program and later on in your career:

  • Time management

  • Project management

  • Facilitating presentations

  • Clear, concise communication

  • Critical thinking

  • Teamwork

  • Flexibility

  • Giving and receiving feedback

What Are Some Coding Bootcamp Outcomes?

Coding bootcamp outcomes will vary depending on the program, where you want to work, and the job you ultimately want to do. For coding bootcamps that offer career support or job search preparation to students, you’ll want to review their rate of job offers within three to six months after a student finishes the program and learn who hires their graduates.

Once enrolled in a coding bootcamp, you’ll likely have the opportunity to choose a specialized track aligned with a specific career. You won’t necessarily be limited in your options, but you’ll be better set up for one type of role than another. Coding bootcamps can help prepare you to pursue the following career paths:

Computer Programmer

A computer programmer is a generalist role and job title that someone could have in the tech space. Tasks can include many that are listed in other job titles, but most often, they entail actually writing the code for any product that is being developed. Computer programmers often work as part of a team of programmers to achieve their desired designs. The median annual salary for this position was around $65,300 as of March 2022, according to PayScale.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the employment of computer programmers to hold steady or decline slightly between 2020 and 2030. This may be due to many people in the field retiring or moving on to different positions, as well as the proliferation of faster-growing and more specialized roles.

Software Engineer

Software engineers generate the ideas that software design teams bring to life as working products. In this crucial role, they often serve as a bridge between the designers and the programmers. Software engineers also map out the tasks necessary for achieving the approved design and support coders with these tasks where necessary. The median annual salary for this position was approximately $88,500 as of March 2022, according to PayScale.

The BLS forecasts the number of software developer jobs to grow by 22% between 2020 and 2030, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

Quality Assurance Engineer

Quality assurance (QA) engineers test a product before it’s released to users to make sure any bugs are resolved. They must be detail-oriented to track problems and their resolutions. QA engineers must also be able to convey information about their work to relevant stakeholders, since they are often the final step before a project is complete. The median annual salary for this position was about $72,200 as of March 2022, according to PayScale.

The BLS projects the employment of QA engineers to rise by 22%— similar to the job outlook for software engineers.

Full-Stack Developer

Full-stack developers work on both the front and back ends of a product, whereas other developers typically focus on just one. For example, a full-stack developer would design the user interface and maintain the code that powers it. The median annual salary for this position was around $79,600 as of March 2022, according to PayScale.

The BLS doesn’t differentiate full-stack developers from the broader category of software developers, whose projected 2020-2030 job growth is 22%.

Mobile Application Developer

Mobile application developers create products optimized for the specific requirements of smartphones and tablets. They can develop these applications independently or as part of a team. Mobile application developers also continue to support the product after its release to create new features or remedy problems as they arise. The average annual salary for this position was around $73,700 as of March 2022, according to PayScale.

As with full-stack developer, the BLS doesn’t differentiate the role of mobile application developer from the broader category of software developers, whose projected 2020-2030 job growth is 22%.

UX Designer

A user experience (UX) designer is tasked with creating a wireframe for a product to see how it will look and work when a user interacts with it. UX designers gather input from their team members to inform their work, and they also consult with users after it’s released to incorporate their feedback. They can work alone or as part of a team depending on the organization and the nature of the work. The median annual salary for this position was about $75,600 as of March 2022, according to PayScale.

The BLS projects the employment of UX designers, classified as “digital designers,” to grow by 13%—faster than average.

Develop the Skills for a Coding Career

Coding bootcamps aim to quickly prepare participants for meaningful careers that align with their interests and skills. Their goal is to help students land jobs with the many organizations that seek workers with in-demand programming and technical skills. Even if you lack a technical background, you can invest in yourself and pursue a rewarding career in a growing field by enrolling in a bootcamp.

If you’re ready to take a leap and make a pivot, check out the Grace Hopper Program’s coding bootcamp for women and nonbinary individuals and get on the path toward achieving your professional goals.

Recommended Readings

3 Common Barriers to a Successful Career Change—and How to Work Through Them

How to Pay for Your Fullstack Academy Education

Online Learning Student Stories


Dice Insights, "6 Skills You Need for Coding Bootcamp"

Medium, "How to Prepare for a Coding Bootcamp: 4 Tips"

NerdWallet, “What Is a Coding Bootcamp?”

PayScale, Average Computer Programmer Salary

PayScale, Average Full-Stack Developer Salary

PayScale, Average Mobile Applications Developer Salary

PayScale, Average Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer Salary

PayScale, Average Software Engineer Salary

PayScale, Average UX Development Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer Programmers: Occupational Outlook Handbook

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers: Occupational Outlook Handbook

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Web Developers and Digital Designers: Occupational Outlook Handbook