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9 June 2023 - 7 minutes

Free Bootcamps vs. Paid Bootcamps

When deciding whether to choose a paid or free bootcamp, it’s crucial to weigh all your options. 

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Has anyone ever told you that everything worth doing is worth doing well? We can guess that yes, you’ve heard this at one point or another. But your definition of “doing well” might differ quite drastically from someone else’s. And even more importantly, you may have different ways of working or deciding what’s important; after all, with the wide range of options out there, you can fine-tune basically anything these days. Prefer shopping in a store? Done. Do you want to have your groceries delivered to your home? Check. 

This myriad of options isn’t limited to just your shopping preferences. These days, your education opportunities are incredibly broad, thanks to the internet and the rush of digitalization that the world witnessed during and following the COVID-19 pandemic. But we’re not just talking about remote learning options; as more and more people use the internet for educational purposes, the amount of learning material online has skyrocketed. You can take courses in practically any subject for a wide range of costs; these courses have risen exponentially particularly in the tech industry. 

Whether you’re looking for a free coding bootcamp or paid bootcamps, there’s tons of options out there. And we understand you probably have lots of questions about bootcamps in general, especially when it comes to financing options. Are paid bootcamps worth it? Do you get paid to go to bootcamp? Are there any free bootcamps? We’ll cover these doubts and much more below, but let’s first cover the basics of what a bootcamp is and why you should be interested in one, be it free or paid. 

What is a Bootcamp? 

A bootcamp is an intensive course held over a few weeks or months on a certain topic. Because of the extremely fast speed at which tech is moving, they’ve become increasingly popular with those looking to make a career change and jump into tech. These days, most bootcamps boast in-person or remote options and the choice of taking it full-time, everyday over the course of a few weeks or months, or extending it a bit more and taking advantage of a more relaxed part-time schedule to continue working or studying. 

But where you’ll take it and how long you’ll be in the course for aren’t the only decisions you’ll have to make. You’ll have to choose a specific area of tech in which to focus and, most importantly, decide if you want to take a paid or free bootcamp. Unsure of which is best for you? Let’s explore both options. 

Free Bootcamps

If the financial commitment of a paid bootcamp is intimidating to you, free bootcamps do exist; in fact, some of the best free coding bootcamps are highly praised and offer a great education. However, as with anything, there will be some limitations with free bootcamps. Let’s check them out: 

  • While free bootcamps are, well, free, lots will have additional or useful materials behind a paywall which means that while the course itself is free, you won’t have access to other resources you may need for success.

  • Free bootcamps frequently lack specialized attention and support; if you’re new to tech and struggling with a concept at the beginning of the course, it may be difficult to reach the instructor and clear up your confusion. Personalized support may be an add-on in lots of free bootcamps. 

  • For example, if you’re looking for a free data science bootcamp but have no clue how to use Excel, you may find that a bootcamp that dives right into the nitty gritty is too advanced for you.

  • This depends on the topic of your bootcamp, but lots of systems and tools require subscriptions or only offer limited basic trials; free bootcamps won’t include access to these tools in your course and you may have to take on that cost yourself to use it, even if it’s essential to your bootcamp.

  • A free software engineering bootcamp may teach you how to use a certain software but lack the permissions to actually practice what you’ve learned.

  • Your career assistance may be quite limited as the tips and tricks you’ll get will be generalized and applicable to your course as a whole, instead of your personal situation and unique background. 

Even with all these points, there are some specific cases when a free bootcamp would be the best choice for you: 

  • If you’re looking to dip your toes into tech without a financial commitment, a free course or bootcamp is a great way to sample what one would be really like and try out some basic concepts before making your final decision. 

  • If you don’t have the financial means/haven’t found a financing option that works for you, but are still interested in learning tech. 

  • You work better on your own and want to focus only on topics that you’re interested in and aren’t looking to follow a predetermined curriculum. 

Aren’t sure you fit in any of these categories? Well, that’s where paid tech bootcamps come into play. 

Paid Bootcamps

If you’re sure a career in tech is the next step for you, paid bootcamps may be the ideal choice. Here’s why: 

  • Your tuition will include the full cost of the bootcamp and any additional aspects that you may not think of at the beginning: access to any tools you might need, bootcamp gear, additional resources, and more. 

  • Paid bootcamps also include prework, which is work you’ll be assigned before the course even starts! This helps everyone enter the bootcamp on the same page, with all the necessary foundational knowledge needed for success.

  • High-quality bootcamps will limit their students to a certain number so that the ratio of student to instructor is low; others will even offer teaching assistants that are typically graduated bootcamp students that can provide even more support and personalized attention to each and every student. 

  • Here’s where paid coding bootcamps differ from free ones; these courses move fast and if you fall behind in a free course, you’re pretty much on your own. Paid bootcamps will give you the chance to reach out to the teaching staff for any help you might need.

  • Paid bootcamps offer much more to students; this can include personalized and curated career support, job boards, on-campus events, remote/hybrid options, skilled instructors, and more. When choosing your bootcamp, make sure you check out all your institution offers and get the most out of it. 

If you’re still torn between the two options, we think a paid bootcamp is best for you if: 

  • You benefit from structure and guided courses, instead of open studying methods where you lead your own progress. 

  • You find a financing option that can help you spread out the payments over time, have a scholarship, or can afford the full cost of the bootcamp upfront. 

  • You are serious about finding a role you’re passionate about right after you graduate and want to benefit from your institution’s career services and alumni network. 

Paid vs. Free Bootcamp Burning Questions

We hope we’ve covered all your questions so far, but just in case, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to the financial aspect of bootcamps. 

Is bootcamp free at tech schools?

Is coding bootcamp free? We get this question frequently and well, as you read above, it depends on the course you choose! If your bootcamp is free or not will depend entirely on the course you choose and its set-up; if you’re not sure if a bootcamp is the right choice for you, lots of institutions offer free resources to help you make that decision. Check those out!

Do I get paid to go to a bootcamp? 

In the majority of cases, you won’t get paid to go to the bootcamp, but you’ll benefit from an incredible career change where you’ll be poised to make a competitive tech salary. If you’re worried about losing your income during the bootcamp, consider part-time options where you’re able to keep working while learning.

Do bootcamps provide financial assistance? 

Yes! Those who run bootcamps are aware of their cost and why you’re interested in taking one: the opportunity to transform your career and get started in a new field where your earnings are high. That’s why lots offer financing options such as scholarship, payment plans, income share agreements, and more to help make them accessible for you.

Tech Bootcamps with Ironhack

At Ironhack, we’re proud to offer bootcamps in web development, UX/UI design, data analysis, and cybersecurity. Our tuition fees vary depending on the length of the bootcamp, your chosen modality, the topic, and the location, but we’ve designed them to be as affordable as possible and an incredible way to dive into tech. Here’s how: 

  • All our bootcamps are taught by sector professionals that have years of experience in the field. The student to instructor ratio is low and provides lots of opportunities for one-to-one assistance if you fall behind. We also have teaching assistants in our bootcamps who are often Ironhack alumni themselves, experienced in the material and being successful in the course.

  • We constantly update our curriculum and syllabi to match market needs: has a new tool emerged? Are employers looking for candidates with a new skill? We work hard to ensure that our graduates are uniquely suited for entry-level positions in the tech world.

  • Our Career Services is designed to help you reach success through personalized, one-to-one assistance where you’ll meet with our Career Coaches who are HR professionals in the tech field to perfect your resume and interview skills and find the best role for you in the shortest time possible.

  • Each of our campuses offers financing options that are specifically curated to make the bootcamp as affordable as possible. If you can’t pay the entire cost upfront, we offer payment plans to help spread out the cost. And if you’d rather wait and start paying off your bootcamp once you’ve landed a job, that’s also an option with our income share agreements. No matter your situation, our Admissions team will work with you to find the best solution for you.

So, what do you think? Is a paid bootcamp the right choice for you, or should you consider free courses? No matter what you decide, Ironhack has something for you. Check out our courses and start your jump into tech today. 

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