Online Coding Bootcamps By The Numbers

Dec 7, 2023

Coding bootcamps prepare graduates for in-demand tech careers in significantly less time than a college degree program—but are they a good investment?

Where coding bootcamps were once an uncommon option for students seeking alternatives to traditional college degrees, they’re now abundant. As of November 2023, approximately 60 companies offered more than 300 online tech bootcamps in the U.S., according to data collected by Forbes Advisor.

The global coding bootcamp market reached a value of $399.91 million in 2021, Verified Market Research reports, and the bootcamp market is projected to reach $889.37 million by 2030.

Major tech companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft hire bootcamp grads, and many bootcamps report a strong return on investment. But before you invest time and money into a bootcamp, let’s dig into the data to learn whether a coding bootcamp is worth it for you.

What Is a Coding Bootcamp?

Coding bootcamps offer short-term, focused training in programming languages, frameworks and back-end tools. Most take three to six months—significantly less time than it takes to earn a full-fledged degree in computer science or information technology.

Common focus areas for coding bootcamps include:

Web development
Software engineering
Data science
UX/UI design
Data analytics
Specific programming languages like Python and Java

Bootcamps offer several enrollment options, including in-person and online classes. You can also enroll part time, full time or on an accelerated schedule. Because of their condensed time frame, bootcamps are often intensive, meaning students may not have time to maintain a full-time job unless they opt for a part-time program.

Degree Finder

Career Outlook: Coding Bootcamp vs. Degree

What’s the difference between an online coding bootcamp and a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology or another tech major? Bootcamps focus on job-ready, industry-specific skills and take less time to complete than a degree. While a bachelor’s degree typically takes four years, most bootcamps take six months or less.

While a coding bootcamp can prepare you for a tech career, some employers prefer to hire candidates with a bachelor’s degree. The in-depth knowledge and skills built during a bachelor’s program, including soft skills like communication and collaboration, can benefit graduates throughout their careers.

That said, some bootcamp providers offer job guarantees, which allow students to get a tuition refund if they do not find suitable employment within a certain period after graduating.

How Much Is a Coding Bootcamp?

Based on original Forbes Advisor research from November 2023, the median tuition cost for online tech bootcamps is $8,300. However, rates vary widely depending on the course and provider. Bootcamps can cost as little as $1,200 or as much as $23,000.

The cost of a coding bootcamp also depends on how you pay for it. Paying upfront can potentially save you money. For example, you’d save $450 by paying for General Assembly’s part-time software engineering bootcamp upfront rather than using a payment plan. Thinkful’s web development bootcamp costs $1,600 less if you pay upfront rather than in monthly installments.

Some programs use a subscription model, where you’ll pay a monthly fee to access content. If you use one of these providers and complete the coursework quickly, you’ll save money. For example, Udacity’s full-stack web developer bootcamp takes an estimated four months, and a four-month subscription costs $846.

In addition to upfront payment and subscription models, many bootcamps offer the following payment options.

Private loans: Bootcamps often partner with private lenders to offer low-interest loans to qualifying applicants. Ensure you carefully review the conditions for any loan and its repayment requirements.
Deferred tuition: A deferred tuition plan allows you to start paying for your coding bootcamp after completing it. Depending on the provider, you might start making payments when you finish, after a three- to six-month grace period or after you start earning a certain amount.
Installment plans: Rather than paying the total bootcamp cost upfront, you can often break up your payments into installments. Unlike deferred tuition, you’ll pay the installments while completing the bootcamp. However, installment plans may cost more than upfront payment.
Income share agreements: When you sign an income share agreement (ISA), you’re agreeing to pay the bootcamp a percentage of your future earnings. That might sound like a good deal, but over time, ISAs can cost twice as much as upfront payments. In July 2023, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau sued a bankrupt bootcamp that used predatory methods to charge $30,000 through its ISA.

Earning Potential for Software Developers

Coding bootcamp grads can work as web developers, information security analysts and UX/UI designers, among other tech roles. But one of the highest-paying careers for bootcamp grads is software developer.

Software developers earn a median pay of $127,260 per year, according to May 2022 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These professionals are in high demand, with the BLS projecting a 26% job growth from 2022 to 2032.

While many tech employers list a bachelor’s degree as the minimum educational requirement, companies also hire bootcamp graduates who have the technical skills and knowledge to work in software development and related roles.

Highest-Paying Cities for Software Developers

Your earning potential as a software developer depends on your location, experience, job title and employer. According to May 2022 BLS data, the highest-paying metro areas for software developers are:

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: $234,540
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA: $181,620
Boulder, CO: $169,750
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA: $155,680
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA: $155,200

Other Potential Careers for Coding Bootcamp Grads

Coding bootcamps can prepare you for many career paths in tech, including computer programmer, database administrator and data scientist. Many of these occupations see strong demand and earn high median salaries.

We sourced salary data for this section from the BLS in December 2023.

Computer Programmer

Median Annual Salary: $97,800

Minimum Required Education: Bachelor’s degree

Job Overview: Computer programmers write code for software programs and apps. They specialize in many programming languages, including JavaScript, Python and Ruby.

Data Scientist

Median Annual Salary: $103,500

Minimum Required Education: Bachelor’s degree

Job Overview: Data scientists analyze information using algorithms, software and programming languages such as Python and Java. To learn more about how to get into this career through a bootcamp, see our guide on data science bootcamps.

Database Administrator

Median Annual Salary: $112,120

Minimum Required Education: Bachelor’s degree

Job Overview: Database administrators organize data management systems. They use SQL, PHP and other programming languages to manage databases.

Information Security Analyst

Median Annual Salary: $112,000

Minimum Required Education: Bachelor’s degree

Job Overview: Information security analysts protect networks and systems from unauthorized access. They use programming languages like Python and JavaScript.

Network Administrator

Median Annual Salary: $90,520

Minimum Required Education: Bachelor’s degree

Job Overview: Network administrators maintain secure, operational networks for organizations. They use software to monitor networks.

Web Developer

Median Annual Salary: $80,730

Minimum Required Education: Bachelor’s degree

Job Overview: Web developers build websites using programming languages like JavaScript and PHP. Developers may specialize in front-end, back-end or full-stack development. To learn more, check out our guide on how to become a web developer.

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The Bottom Line

Are coding bootcamps a good investment? For many students, attending a bootcamp pays off. A recent Gallup poll of 3,824 bootcamp grads found that the median salary among respondents increased by $11,000 after they attended a bootcamp. Full-time employees saw their salaries rise from $59,000 to $70,000.

But whether a coding bootcamp is the right fit for you depends on your career goals, budget and skills. Before investing in a bootcamp, research the program’s graduate placement data and its total cost. Also, consider taking free online courses to build your technical skills before enrolling in a bootcamp.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Coding Bootcamps

Is a coding bootcamp worth it?

Coding bootcamps can pay off. Bootcamp grads report a 17% median increase in their pay, according to a 2022 Gallup poll. However, research the total cost and earning potential before paying for a bootcamp.

Can you really get a coding job from a bootcamp?

Yes, you can get a coding job after completing a bootcamp. A bootcamp can prepare you to work as a web developer, UX/UI designer, software developer or data scientist. You can also become a computer programmer after gaining coding skills in a bootcamp.

Do companies really hire from coding bootcamps?

Yes, companies hire graduates from coding bootcamps. Amazon, JP Morgan Chase and Accenture often hire bootcamp grads, as do many other major companies.

Are coding bootcamps recognized?

Most coding bootcamps do not hold accreditation like colleges. But bootcamps can be licensed by state regulatory agencies. Before attending a bootcamp, check its licensing status and look for any regulatory violations.