Making the decision to pursue a future with a tech bootcamp is a big decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. And you may have taken a bit to even arrive at that decision: is a tech bootcamp right for you? Is it the right moment to commit to the challenge? Are you ready to restart the job hunt? You found the answers to all these questions and are happy with your decision. But now comes an even bigger decision: which bootcamp should you choose?
There are tons of options out there and you may feel overwhelmed with all the choices–how can you know which is the right choice? From different modality options to topics to schools themselves, it may seem like the ultimate Sophie’s choice. And that’s why we’ve created this guide: to walk you through the process and help you make the right decision for you.
Before we dive right in, however, let’s cover some of the basics of bootcamps and things that all schools should offer (and if they don’t–run!).
The Basics of Bootcamps
To put it simply, bootcamps are intensive and fast-moving courses that aim to teach students about one very specific topic in such detail that they’re ready to join the job market in just a few months. The exact course length varies significantly based on the tech school and subject, but most take two to three months and demand a heavy time commitment, both inside and outside the classroom.
Because they’re designed to allow you to land a job immediately post-graduation, bootcamp students should expect to have lots of projects and hands-on assignments where they’ll produce deliverables that can then be used in their portfolio and interview processes. In addition to the subject taught in the course, students also have access to career support and advisors to help them get ready to enter the workforce.
Bootcamps typically don’t require any prerequisite courses and are affordable, removing practically all barriers to tech that exist when only university graduates are considered for certain roles.
Sounds simple, right? Well, the concept of bootcamps is quite straightforward, but when it comes to actually choosing the school and course you want to take, you’ll realize it gets a bit more complicated.
Choosing a Bootcamp Topic
First things first: you’ll need to choose the topic you want to study. In the past, bootcamps focused on general topics such as coding, but as tech begins to infiltrate basically every area of every industry, the options have expanded and you can choose to study data analytics, cybersecurity, machine learning, UX/UI design, and much more. If you’re not sure which topic is right for you, consider the following:
Think about your interests: you want a career that you love and that interests you, so it’s very important to see which area is the most appealing to you. Bootcamps are a serious investment in your future and should be taken as such.
Research the job market: while job opportunities abound in practically every area of tech, some are more obvious than others and different ones may meet your specific career goals. Take the time to research what the job market in different fields looks like before making a final decision.
Investigate career opportunities in the field: some fields’ job trajectories are more straightforward than others and some may have broad paths for you to choose from once you’re in the role. Research exactly what job opportunities you could have and see if you’re interested in that field.
There are a lot of different topics out there, but follow these three tips and you’ll be able to find the one that works best for you and your career aspirations.
Choosing a Tech School
With your topic chosen, it’s time for the next big decision: choosing a tech school. This also may seem straightforward–as long as they teach your chosen topic, it’s fine to pick any, right? We’d like to tell you yes, but there are tons out there, all with different strengths and weaknesses, and dedicating time to finding the right fit for you will benefit you in the long run. When you start checking out some different ones, keep these tips in mind:
Read online reviews: the internet is a wonderful place and online reviews are a fantastic way to see what actual people have thought of their experience with the course, helping you picture what your experience with the school would be. Use various review sites to get a balanced view and listen to what people have to say.
Review their alumni stories: learning a tech skill is great, but your ultimate goal is to land a job in your chosen field, not just add a new line to your resume. Therefore, checking out their alumni stories and outcomes should be a crucial part of your decision making. If the school doesn’t boast many clear stats on job placements or outcomes, or doesn’t have alumni stories available, be cautious of choosing them.
Check out their terms/requirements: we mentioned above that the vast majority of bootcamps have no barriers to entry, but some may suggest having previous knowledge or studies in a chosen field; it’s important to review their requirements before committing to the course. In addition, you must look at their prices, dates, and offerings to get a better idea of if it’s the right fit for you.
If you’ve been researching many schools and can’t seem to make a decision, consider reaching out to them and asking to speak to a current student to get a first-hand and current opinion; this can help you better picture how your experience in the course will be.
Choosing a Bootcamp Modality
You have your topic and your school–you’re done, right? Not so fast: the next step (which is equally as important) is to choose the modality of your bootcamp and here you’ll most likely have two decisions to make: full or part time and in-person or remote. This decision is dependent on you and your personal situation; we can’t tell you which is best for you, but we can suggest you think about the following:
Consider how you learn: if you’re in a position where you could choose either option but just aren’t sure, take some time to reflect on how you learn and which modality would be best for you. Do you have trouble focusing when you’re at home? In-person courses may be superior. Or are you going to keep your current job while studying at the bootcamp? A part time course is probably best for you.
Review your upcoming responsibilities: bootcamps require a serious time commitment both in and outside class and it’s key to give serious consideration to the time you can commit to the bootcamp, even if it means choosing a part time course over a full time one.
Think about the entire picture: each decision has consequences and if you choose an in-person course, you’ll have to factor in commuting time every day while part time courses may eat up your weeknights and weekends. Taking a tech bootcamp is a great investment in your future, but make sure you think about every consequence before making a final decision.
Tech bootcamps are flexible and can be customized to meet your needs, but in order to take full advantage of them, you’ll need to be realistic with what you can promise and commit to.
Other Factors to Consider When Choosing a Tech Bootcamp
You’ve made the three major decisions by now and that’s a great start. But before you sign on the dotted line, take these into consideration as well:
Financing options: although cheaper than traditional forms of education such as a university degree, bootcamps do have a price tag and making sure you’re aware of that and the cost before signing up is essential. Many do offer financing options, such as grants, scholarships, income share agreements, payment plans, and more; if you will need help to pay for it, make sure you review this as well.
Career support: your ultimate goal is to land a job in your new field post-graduation and that’s why lots of bootcamps offer personalized career support throughout the entire course (and even after!) to help you land a job. Exactly what they offer, however, will differ from one to another and making sure you’re clear on what you’re getting is a key part of your decision making process.
Tech bootcamps are incredible ways to get into tech and we’re happy you’re considering a future in tech with Ironhack. Take some time to consider what we listed above and make sure you’re on the right track and then consider our bootcamps in web development, UX/UI design, data analytics, and cybersecurity: with detailed career support and financing options in addition to part and full time and remote or in-person options, Ironhack is the right choice for any aspiring techie.