Learning a programming language is one of the most useful skills you can acquire in today's job market. Although there's a projected declining demand for programming jobs in the United States by 8% over the next decade, Fast Company argues it is still the most important job skill of the future.
As our daily life becomes more ingrained with software, there's inevitably going to be more value emphasized on these skills. Personally, I think it's one of the coolest things you can learn. It's like magic. You input a command and watch it come to life. I tried learning on my own back in 2014 when I was living at home.
Before I really learned what programming was, I first tried to learn CSS and HTML. A few weeks later I learned what programming actually was and realized the difference between a markup language, which is what CSS and HTML are and a real computer programming language.
After those few weeks, I came across a promotion for CodeDay on Apple's homepage. I was instantly intrigued. I always thought programming was for geniuses or people who began learning how to program at the age of 12.
There was a link to a coding game for literally like 8-year-olds that was on Code.org. It was their Hour of Code promotion to get you exposed to the very basics of how programming worked. On each level, it gave you “if-then” constructs. Once you completed the level, you pressed finish and watched your code come to life.
It was such a little thing, but I thought it was so cool. I felt like Harry Potter or something watching something come to life from one of my commands. It really felt like magic to me and I thought it would be so cool to learn this stuff.
After that, I started researching how I could learn programming on my own and what languages there were for beginners (hint: it doesn't matter what language you start with, it just matters that you actually start). I soon found there was a recurring theme of a select few languages that are abundant in job searches, and that more importantly were being taught online.
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To their credit, the site has come a long way since I tried learning to code on their platform back in 2014. Before, there were only free courses. Now, if you're interested, you can also opt to pay for an intensive course for $199.
My only problem with this site back in 2014, was that when I had a problem I couldn't solve, it took the staff either over 2 days to get back to me or they flat-out ignored my email when I submitted a question I had for a problem I couldn't solve. It seems like since then however, they've enhanced their services and resources significantly.
Thinkful has also changed a lot for the better since I was looking at them over 3 years ago. The coding school startup backed by Peter Thiel, provides one-on-one mentorship assigning someone to you throughout your course load. The only thing is, a few years ago I saw people were complaining the tutors were in over their heads and weren't as knowledgeable as they should have been. But it seems like they raised the bar for the tutors and it's no longer an issue.
In addition to the 1-on-1 mentorship, they also provide a support team which includes a program manager, a career coach and a career services manager. That's something that wasn't around a few years ago, so that's definitely a huge plus.
After you graduate, they still help you for the next 6 months getting a job, helping you to apply to positions and nail the interviews. The courses they provide are called Full Stack Flexible, Engineering Immersion and Data Science. The difference between the first two is just the hours; the Full Stack Flexible requires 20-30 hours per week of studying while the Engineering Immersion is 50-60 hours, so you'd probably have to quit your job to do this one. The Data Science is just that, it's a data science course requiring 20-30 hours per week.
In their outcomes tab, they claim the average yearly salary increase reported by students is $15,000-$20,000. The only thing is, I don't know why the average isn't just one number and what the starting salaries were prior to the bump in pay.
Treehouse is $25/month with the first 7 days free. You go at your own pace, and there's no schedule to stick to with deadlines to complete any assignments or projects. They do have what they call track programs which are cool and all, but it's the same idea as Codecademy as far as learning on your own is concerned.
It's great if you're just starting out to see if you're curious in my opinion, but nothing more than that. To me though, you'd be better off starting with Codecademy since their courses are free. If you want to check out Treehouse, I'd say as intensively as you can, for the first 7 days, spend as much time as you can on it to see if spending the $25 a month really makes sense. It's just $25, but why waste the money if you could use Codecademy for free?
Bloc is an online bootcamp and the oldest out of all of them (6 years old, I know super old right?). They claim they have a 97% acceptance rate getting jobs with 93% getting into the programming field within 6 months of completing the course.
They have 3 payment plans. The first is $7,500 paid upfront, which is the cheapest. The second is four payments of $2,125 totaling $8,500. And the third is to apply for a 3-5 year loan through Skills Fund for a total of $8,500.
I don't know what the interest rate on the loan is, but try to pay the $7,500 if you're gonna do this one.
They offer a Web Developer Track and a Designer Track. I can't see the full details of the course layout without giving my information and receiving the emailed curriculum, but if you're interested, check it out.
This option also seems much more thorough than when I was looking at it a few years ago. I didn't start the course, but I was poking around and can already see just by first glance there are more options, and it seems to be much more sophisticated.
The best part about these sites is looking at the success stories and reading how well the graduates are doing. Of course, as with most things, you need to take this with a grain of salt since there are so many people at this point who have done the program, but what I've noticed is the people who didn't get a job or complete the programs were the ones who quite frankly didn't try and expected to be able to give minimal effort and coast by with a job waiting for them at the end of the road.
Learning to program is very tough if you've never done it before. You're learning a completely new language. With that being said, anyone can learn anything if they're focused enough. That's the difference between those who dropped out and those who graduated and received a job offer.
Okay, so I gave you some input on what I've found to be the most referred online courses to learn programming, but what about the actual “bootcamps” where you go to a physical location and learn nothing but the ins and outs of the basics of programming all day, every day?
These bootcamps are the real deal where you can really get the most bang for your buck. In some cases, you can get the same salary you would after receiving an MBA degree, but without having to pay $200,000. Instead, the most I've seen you have to pay is around $28,000.
Considering you're only doing these bootcamps when you want a career change that only takes a few months, that's a hell of a deal if you're willing to put the work in. That's literally $172,000 less than some MBA programs. And if you play your cards right, you can negotiate a hell of a starting salary.
So the obvious disadvantage here is if you don't live near San Francisco or New York. But I've read success stories where people have rented apartments for literally 3 months or legit picked up and moved with their wife or husband to start a new life in the city. Again, you gotta take these stories with a grain of salt, they are a few stories out of hundreds, but the point is, it's possible to make it work if you want it badly enough.
The class is a mandatory 9 am-6 pm course Monday-Friday, but I've read people usually stay overtime and come in during the weekends, easily putting in 80 to even 100 hours a week.
App Academy also apparently provides prep work to complete before you arrive the first day. The acceptance rate is very competitive, I believe at 3%, but 97% of the people who enter the course get a job.
It used to be free upfront, and they would charge you a percentage of your salary only if you received a job from the program, otherwise, it was completely free. But I think they changed that a couple of years ago due to some law in California, so I believe the course is $17,000 upfront, or $28,000 after you find a job. When you think about it though, it's really nothing.
It's one of, if not the most competitive program to get into with a virtual guarantee you will get a job as long as you bust your ass. The average salary for a graduate who receives a job in San Francisco is $101,000 and in New York City is $89,000. I can't speak for other areas of the country, but since those are two of the most expensive, you could probably find jobs elsewhere providing salaries for a comfortable living.
And take into consideration the course is only for 3 months. Sure, it's most likely 12 hours a day learning new material draining your brain cells, but only 3 months nonetheless, rather than 24 for an MBA.
Flatiron School offers part-time and full-time courses in web and mobile development located in New York City (hence the name of the school). The immersive courses are 12 weeks, and the hours are also 9 am-6 pm. It's a 15 week course if you're attending in person full-time, so 3 weeks longer than App Academy's program.
Like App Academy though, they have a 97% job acceptance rate after graduating.
The two on campus courses are the Software Engineering Immersive course and the Data Science Immersive Course.
The cost $15,000 for the in-person course. The online course is $1,500 a month, capped at $12,000, but don't take this course, that's outrageously expensive for an online course.
Here is a chart of graduates' salary progressions as they move on in their careers:
The only location for this bootcamp is unfortunately Boston (NY Giants fan over here). The acceptance rate they state on their site is 18%, so relatively lenient compared to App Academy.
They have a tiered tuition set up:
First Deadline: $277/month for a total of $9,100
Second Deadline: $283/month for a total of $9,300
Third Deadline: $289/month for a total of $9,500
So it's not solely focused on programing. I'm not sure how much of a good thing or bad thing that is, I have no opinion on it since I don't know, but it did get phenomenal reviews on switch.org. It features 1-4 weeks of prep work before the 12 week program begins. I wasn't able to find average starting salaries for graduates on their site though so that stinks.
The Tech Academy
They have campuses in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. Their course is called the Software Developer Boot Camp and takes 20 to 30 weeks to complete, so 5-7 and a half months. It received a 4.84 out of 5 stars on switchup.org.
The cost of the course is reportedly $10,000. Still, it's $190,000 less than what an MBA program from a top school could cost. I wasn't able to find an average starting salary for their graduates either unfortunately.
I think learning to program a computer language is really cool regardless of the potential salary opportunities. If I wasn't so focused on my blog and trying to make a living from this, I would be totally immersed in programming. I just think it's so interesting, and if I ever learned it well enough and thought of a real world problem to solve to start a company, that would be insane. But if I can make a living from blogging I'll definitely study my ass off and try to get into App Academy. That would be super cool.
What do you guys think of this stuff, is it something you ever considered?
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