Do I Need Coding Bootcamp to Become a Software Developer?

In recent years, coding bootcamps have become increasingly popular in tech-centric cities like New York and San Francisco. This is largely because these bootcamps are designed around the idea that anyone can learn how to code, an idea that is very appealing to many recent grads who don’t have a traditional engineering background. If you’re interested in becoming a software developer, then you might be wondering whether you need a coding bootcamp to get started. Will a bootcamp help you develop your skills and get you job ready as quickly as possible? It depends.

Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to sign up for a coding bootcamp.

What are your current skills and professional goals?

One of the keys to understanding how close you are to landing the job you want is being able to assess your current skill set and your professional goals. For example, if you’re a computer science major with some coding experience and basic knowledge of programming languages like Python and Javascript, then you’re already well on your way to becoming a developer and would likely benefit more from an internship than a bootcamp. On the other hand, if you’re just becoming interested in programming and are eager to learn a lot very quickly, then a structured program like a bootcamp might be a good fit for you.

Pro Tip: Since most bootcamps offer intensive courses over a period of eight to 12 weeks, figuring out how much you want to learn (and how quickly) will likely play a big part in your decision. A key thing to note is that because of the intense nature of these programs, most bootcamp students aren’t able to complete them while also having a job, so if you decide to do a bootcamp, you’ll need to commit to it fully.

What can you learn on your own?

With so many options for self-study out there, including free online classes from Codecademy and Khan Academy, there’s a lot you can do to teach yourself about coding and to figure out where your programming interests lie. If you’re comfortable taking a less structured approach (or developing your own curriculum), then teaching yourself how to code can be something you do in your spare time, even while you’re still in school.

Added bonus: Since many coding bootcamps charge upwards of $10,000 for a full training course, being able to design your own program will allow you to potentially save quite a bit of money.

How can a coding bootcamp help to fill remaining gaps in your knowledge?

Once you’ve assessed your skills, goals and what you’re able to learn on your own, it’s important to figure out whether there are any knowledge gaps that a coding bootcamp can help to fill. For example, if you’re interested in learning how to program in Python in order to improve your job prospects, then a coding bootcamp could potentially be a good way to supplement your existing knowledge.

Deciding whether to sign up for a bootcamp involves assessing a lot of factors such as your financial circumstances, professional goals and time commitments. In order to make an informed decision, it’s important to figure out what your needs are and to determine whether a bootcamp is the best way to meet them. And if you want more hands-on experience without going the bootcamp route, an internship could be a great option for you.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Become a Software Developer and find answers to common interview questions such as What Are Your Strengths?