Ep.58- A Fast Way to a High Paying Job: Coding Bootcamps

Read Time: 3 Minutes.

Thinking about switching careers or upping your income? You are not alone.

The most common route is going back to school, typically a graduate program of some sort. Amongst all, THE most popular graduate program is a full-time MBA, which typically takes 2 years to complete and costs more than a quarter of a millions dollars.

If you don't want to spend that much time and money, there is an alternative that's worth looking into. In the past year, I've come across a new program that seems produces solid results, yet takes less time and money.

Yes. I am talking about coding bootcamps. You may know them better by name. The most popular program for soft engineering is App Academy, and the equivalent for Data Science is MissionU.



Coding bootcamps are essentially vocational schools. They all have these four key attributes:  accelerated program,  heavy focus on job placement, low cost, and deferred payment.


Typically these programs are designed to be done in 1 year or shorter. For example, MissionU is designed as a 1-year program with 80% of the courses online, so one can technically still hold a part-time or even a full-time job.  App Academy is even more accelerated as a 12-week program, although all of it are in classroom. 


I think these programs have a lot of value because their incentive is largely aligned with the students - job placement.  For example, App Academy and MissionU both advertise that they have partnerships with tech companies, so they can help you land a job that pays at least $50k/yr. 

COST:  $20K - $30K

These programs are relatively inexpensive compared to graduate programs, but not free. They typically cost between $20k - $30k, no matter how they structure it.

Currently, if you choose the placement based plan with App Academy, it will cost you $28k when you get placed a job that pays +$50k. If you don't have a job, then you walk away with no cost. For MissionU, the minimum cost is $22.5k, because they garnish 15% of your pre-tax salary every month for 3 years, once you are placed in a job that pays +$50k. But this cost can go significantly higher, once your income goes up within the first 3 years.


For both App Academy and MissionU, you don't have to come up with the cash to enroll in the program. They are deferred until your job placement. My understanding is, If you don't get placed a job that pays at least $50k/yr, you don't pay a cent. Since their goal is to get you a job, so they are more likely to provide the structure and possibly the network to help you achieve so, because their incentive is aligned with yours.  



In my opinion, these programs are not for everyone.

These programs make the most sense for people who would like to seek an alternative to the traditional 4-year college. If you are 18, debating if you want to take on $30k in debt to go through a mediocre university, which may not help land you a job, then this program could be a viable alternative to consider. It is difficult to say if this program can help you adapt to the changing world 20 years from now, but neither can an average university degree.

In addition, it also makes a lot of financial sense for college graduates who are unemployed or underemployed.  If you have tried and still unable to find a job that utilizes your college education, you may want to look into these programs to jump start your career. 



I am always cautious when things are too good to be true.  Prior to writing this piece, I have spoken with actual people who have gone through the program, but I have not personally experienced it. I think you need to consider these four factors, before enrolling into any program.

SALARY EXPECTATION:  The statistical average can be misleading because it may describe no one. I would imagine a person with no prior coding experience is unlikely to land a job that pays $100k right out of App Academy. It is possible, but I am cautious.

JOB RETENTION:  None of the programs I researched show any job retention rate. It is difficult to say how many people stay on the same job they are placed in for more than 1 year.  This matters because this is a profession where results matter. Either you can do the job, or you can't. As an inexperienced coder, a person could be let go within 3 months, if he/she can't get the job done.

PAYMENT MANAGEMENT:  If everything works out as advertised, you do land a high paying job, you need not to forget to stay disciplined in paying the tuition, as 15% of pre-tax income is not a small fee for anyone. 

EXPERTISE IN CODING:  In the case of App Academy, 12 weeks is quite short for anyone to become an expert in a coding language. If you simply want to go through the motions to land a high paying job, it will turn out to be a waste of time, and likely a waste of money.



I personally know more than one person who have gone through App Academy, and they have all jump-started their career very quickly. However, I am fully aware they do not represent the average person, and anecdotal stories may not reflect the majority. I think these coding bootcamps are definitely worth looking into, but do so with caution. It's best if you can speak with someone who has gone through it himself/herself. 


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