Should you consider Software Development Bootcamps as a kickstart to your career?
This is a tricky question to answer, and the answer is probably, “it depends”. So, we’ll try and cover some of the reasons why it would be a good idea for you, balanced with some of the why nots.
Why are there so many bootcamps?
This is an easy one, there is a global skills shortage for software developers that is only going to grow in the years to come. IDC, a leading market intelligence firm in a recent report said the following:
“The global shortage of full-time developers will increase from 1.4 million in 2021 to 4.0 million in 2025, which means that the full-time developer labour force will perform at 90.8% capacity in 2021 and at 84.9% capacity in 2025.”
Digital skills, specifically software development, are in high demand and the number of bootcamps has grown at a fast rate to help fill the gap in the job market, training skilled junior developers who can go on to have exciting and well-rewarded careers within the industry.
Are there other options to train?
Yes, there are other routes you can take to develop your skills. If you are still in school, you can take software development courses and most further education institutions have specific courses for you to take that will nurture and hone your skills, as well as offer you professional placements once you have graduated. In-school training and further education courses are typically free of charge to eligible individuals.
Software Developer apprenticeships are also available and can be a fantastic pathway to joining the industry. Apprentices will earn a salary from day one and will have the training and professional experience all the way through their course. Some bootcamps align with the apprentice system and can be a fantastic way to start your career.
Additionally, you can study computer science or software development at university. These courses are fantastic and can offer a well-rounded education, but they are expensive. You can get loans that mean you don’t pay upfront but the House of Commons Library estimates that the average student debt post-university for those starting in September 2021 will be £45,800, so you have to bear this in mind if you opt for the university route.
What is a bootcamp?
Bootcamps have been set up in the private sector to offer short, immersive courses in software development that are focused on training in-demand skills to individuals who have the aptitude and capabilities to become a developer. Typically, these courses range from 8-14 weeks and are intense, working with other students to learn and develop your skills in the areas your bootcamp focuses on. Courses in the private sector have more freedom to change the details of the course in relation to current in-demand skills and updates to languages and/or industry trends.
Traditionally, bootcamps were taught and delivered in person, promoting collaborative working and the sharing of ideas. With the pandemic came a shift to remote learning with courses now having the possibility to learn remotely or in person. This has opened up the availability of courses to a wider demographic.
Bootcamps will often have strict entrance criteria to ensure you have the basic capabilities to become a skilled developer. Bootcamps are oversubscribed and businesses will ensure that the individuals going on the course have the focus and passion required in order to succeed in an immersive environment. This isn’t to say that earlier experience helps you get on to courses, just that they will set tough entrance challenges that are accessible to people with no earlier experience.
Some bootcamps offer free places for training where they have existing employer relationships. These will see you placed with a reputable employer (Think Deloitte, Lloyds Banking Group etc.) for a period of around 18 months on a pre-agreed package. If you complete this work assignment, you will have no fees to pay. Other bootcamps will charge but guarantee you will get your money back if you do not find a role within 12 months of graduation. Some bootcamps will not have the free possibility, but the strength of their reputation will often be strong enough that they are still oversubscribed, and graduates will have excellent job prospects. Different bootcamps have different offers and some bootcamps will have multiple routes that suit you. If you can afford to pay the full fee then you will find you can get a starting salary that is higher than the routes with guaranteed employment, but you will have to pay the course fees yourself. This, of course, comes down to personal preference.
What qualifications will I have and what roles can I get?
Your bootcamp will have its own certification, with some aligning themselves to the government apprenticeship programme. Bootcamps in the private sector can be agile with their course content and adjust the make-up of their courses dependent on the most needed skills in the job market.
All bootcamps will have partnerships with employers who are desperate for digital talent so if you are enquiring, you should be asking the bootcamp about the strength of their employer network.
Candidates completing a bootcamp will be eligible for an array of junior software developer roles with starting salaries somewhere around the £26,000 to £32,000 mark, depending on your capabilities. The more you can do and the more languages you can code in, the more you are worth to an employer.
Reasons you should consider trying a Bootcamp
- Software development skills are some of the most in-demand skills in the job market and graduating from a reputable bootcamp will offer you the opportunity for an incredible career. If you embrace continual learning and development, you will have a fantastic array of job opportunities in the future.
- Bootcamps don’t take long to complete, which means you can be job-ready within 3 months, so be ready to take your first step as a junior developer relatively quickly. Not many career paths have a fast-track route to success that can compare. This is not to say that bootcamps are easy, far from it. Bootcamps are intense, immersive periods of learning that require dedication and hard work to complete.
- Being a software developer will offer you the opportunity to work with great freedom. Many companies offer developers total remote working if they want, some even with the opportunity to work overseas. Also, as developer roles are on the skills shortage list in most countries globally, your opportunities to move, and work, internationally will be abundant.
- Software development work is interesting, and if you like problem-solving this role could be for you. As you develop your skills and career, the work will become more challenging and interesting.
- The right academy for you will have a great reputation and can support the start of your career in development. Academies tend to have professional relationships with employers who will be keen to speak to graduates of the bootcamp. As the result, you will have an existing pathway to gain your first professional role and start moving up the ladder in the world of development.
- Career development and amazing salaries are one element of the attraction. Salary isn’t the only driver for people considering bootcamps, but it is a factor. Candidates completing a bootcamp can reasonably expect a starting salary between £26,000 and £32,000 with salary rises to come quickly within the first few years. The caveat to this is that as a developer you are never the finished article, it’s up to you to continually develop and learn, and the more you do, the more opportunity you have to develop your career and earnings.
- Software developers have a great sense of community, whether that is in-person or online, so expect to develop great friendships on your bootcamp and enjoy being in the developer community for life. This shared experience helps with coding reviews, coding challenges and moral support.
Reasons to perhaps not try a Bootcamp
- Bootcamps aren’t the only choice when it comes to starting a career in development. Bootcamps are intense and immersive learning environments that don’t suit everyone. You may flourish in a university setting and perhaps that life experience of going to university will help develop you as a person, as well as academically.
- Whilst there are often options for free bootcamps, this isn’t the case for all. Some will offer payment plans, and others will guarantee that you’ll get a job, or you’ll get your money back. However, in some cases, the cost will be a deal-breaker.
- If you are unsure if this is the right career path for you then it is probably not the right time to start your coding journey with a bootcamp. There are lots of short free coding courses available that will give you an introduction to coding. Some bootcamps have an introduction course you can complete for free, often with other people starting at the same time that you can interact with and share challenges. This could well be the best first step for you.
Bootcamps are undoubtedly an amazing way to develop talent quickly, help businesses with access to talent, and help great candidates kickstart their tech careers. For some people, it will be the perfect way to change careers; it can be a quick and exciting way to learn and develop new skills and enter an exciting, well-paid and ever-growing industry. However, this route won’t suit everyone so make sure you do your research, speak to multiple bootcamps, and find the one that suits your interests and possible future careers.
We will cover this question from the perspective of the employer very soon, with the question, “Should you consider partnering with a bootcamp to develop your future tech talent?”