Veterans Transition Resource Center


  1. Coding Bootcamp vs College: what’s best for me? 

Can you really learn everything you need for a job in the tech industry without a computer science degree? Here are 5 things to consider when deciding between 3 months vs. 4 years of school. 

  • Cost. The cost of a bootcamp is equivalent to one semester of a CS degree program, but leads to a rewarding average starting salary of 60-70K. 
  • Return on Investment.  You can complete a bootcamp in less time and with less money while still holding the same earnings potential as a CS grad. 
  • Time Commitment. CS Degree programs require a longer time investment, which means deeper understanding and more practice hours. In contrast, you’ll finish a bootcamp in a matter of weeks, but may need to spend some time doing self-study to get up to speed. 
  • Curriculum.  For a more well-rounded understanding of computer systems and a general understanding of coding, a CS degree is a better option. To delve right into coding languages and their practical applications, bootcamp is the way to go. 
  • Career Outlook.  If you want to launch or join a startup skip the CS degree and go to bootcamp. If becoming an executive at Google, Apple or Amazon is in your future, plan to earn a CS degree at some point down the road. 
  1. Can I learn how to code on my own? 

Once you’ve decided to learn how to code, you may be wondering if you can teach just teach yourself. History says, “YES!” Plenty of successful developers are self-taught using books, online resources, etc. Here are 6 things to consider when deciding if you should attend a bootcamp or teach yourself. 

  • Prior coding experience. Students with a computer science background or knowledge of programming, may find it easier to teach themselves. However, if you have no knowledge of programming and would like to learn quickly, it’s better to attend a coding bootcamp. 
  • Coding curriculum. It’s difficult enough to learn to code, and if you don’t have a guide, it’s hard to know how to teach yourself. If you find it difficult to find the tools you need, consider a bootcamp with a set curriculum. 
  • Learning style. Have you tried to teach yourself a new technical skill in the past? Were your past self-teaching attempts a success? Work out what your learning style is. If you find that you learn well on your own, it’s something you should try before bootcamp. 
  • Time and commitment. What is your Bootcamp ROI (Return on Investment)? You may save in the long run by paying for a bootcamp and reaping the benefits of a salary increase in just a few short months. 
  • Your network. Do you know fellow programmers? Do you have contacts to find a job after you learn to code? If not, a bootcamp will surely provide a network and contacts, which are fundamental in any career transition. 
  • Set your goals. Are you a career changer or just seeking a new hobby? Take some time to self-teach before taking the plunge and quitting your job to join a bootcamp. 
  1. Am I ready for a coding bootcamp? 

Coding Bootcamps are intensive programs; while very rewarding, a coding bootcamp will be stressful and will push you. Before attending a bootcamp, consider if it’s the right fit for your learning style. Schools look for the following skills in intensive bootcamp applicants: 

  • Willingness to work hard – this is particularly important when applying to an intensive bootcamp. It’s a huge investment to spend 40-80+ hours a week over the course of several months to learn a new skill. You’ll often hear the word grit throughout the admissions process, and that’s exactly what schools are looking for in applicants. Bootcamps want to know that their students are committed to doing whatever it takes to succeed for the duration of the bootcamp. At the same time, make sure you avoid burnout. 
  • Ability to problem solve – An intense curiosity and desire to problem-solve are vital, because many bootcamps offer limited lectures and instead require students to spend most of the day solving challenges on their own. During the technical coding challenge, your approach to problem-solving can be even more important than solving the challenge. 
  • Interpersonal skills – Whether it’s called empathy or just “playing nice,” a bootcamp is a team sport. You’ll be spending the majority of your days learning alongside and coding with a small group of strangers. Those that demonstrate a desire to learn from and work with others will do well. 
  • Technical chops – Depending on the school. you may be required to pass a coding challenge in your interview. If you’re not quite ready, take a coding bootcamp prep program. 

If a full-time coding bootcamp is not an option, consider a part-time bootcamp or online bootcamp. 


  • Come in and see us and discuss if this is good for you. 
  • Test your passion for coding at a weekend workshop with VTRC Bootcamps 


4. What type of bootcamp should I attend? 

Acceptance rates at top coding bootcamps are notoriously low (some between 3-6%), but that doesn’t mean that you’re not ready to learn to code. Coding Bootcamps are generally upfront about the minimum demands they make on their students. Some “zero to sixty” code schools are meant to bring beginners into the fold and other “twenty to one-twenty” bootcamps aim to help current developers make a leap or learn a new technology stack. First, figure out what your own skill level is, and then find the bootcamp that aligns with that level. 

Immersive coding bootcamps – Immersive bootcamps usually last 3 months to 6 months. Classes are held full-time and students can use facilities after class to review concepts and work on projects. Many intensive bootcamp students put in 80 hour weeks. To attend an intensive bootcamp, students must be prepared to give up their full-time job and limit outside activities for the course of the program. 

Part-time coding bootcamps – Part-time coding bootcamps usually meet on nights and weekends. Students study concepts over a longer period of time and spend 6-15 hours per week in class and another 10-15 hours per week on additional concepts. Students in part-time bootcamps usually hold part-time or full-time jobs in addition to class. 

Online coding bootcamps – More recently, the bootcamp trend has shifted thanks to online coding schools like Bloc, Thinkful, and other popular programs. Even if you choose to study online, you’ll still have options between flexible or full-time courses. Students complete curriculum and activities on their own and meet with a mentor several times each week. Most online schools also have an online community where students can connect with each other. One plus? You can enjoy the benefits of bootcamp from the comfort of your own home. Watch demos of online coding bootcamps here. 

  1. Which city should I attend coding bootcamp? 

While you will still find the majority of dev bootcamps in major tech hubs like San Francisco and New York, Dallas and Las Vegas is becoming another center. Consider these things when making the decision: 

  • Where do you want to work after you graduate?  If your goal is to get a job in your current city, then there’s no reason to pack up yet! 
  • Do you have obligations in your current city?  If you don’t have ties or if you’re just ready for a big move, then perhaps a fully immersive experience could be beneficial in freeing you from distractions and offering a new experience. 
  • Does your current city have a credible coding bootcamp option? The Midwest, South, and even Malaysia, all have credible coding bootcamps. It’s not necessary to move cities (or countries) to get a solid foundation in programming and get a job as a software developer. 
  1. Which programming language should I learn? 

Coding bootcamps employ teaching languages to introduce students to the world of programming. While language shouldn’t be the main deciding factor when choosing a bootcamp, students may have specific career goals that guide them towards a particular language. 

  1. Where can I find coding bootcamp reviews? 

Check out VTRC Bootcamps 

If you’ve graduated from a bootcamp, you should leave a review to help future students make their decision.  


  1. How much should I spend on coding bootcamp tuition? 

The average full-time programming bootcamp in the US costs $11,450 with some bootcamps charging up to $20,000 in tuition. When making a decision, first calculate your Return on Investment (ROI): do your research and compare bootcamp tuition costs to the average starting salary of past graduates. Be sure to consider the opportunity cost incurred by quitting your job, room & board, and any hidden fees from loans. Some bootcamps offer free or discounted housing. The amount of money that you’re willing to invest should probably correlate strongly with the amount of time and energy that you’re willing to put forth.  

  1. How do I pay for bootcamp? 

Bootcamps are expensive. Because code schools are not degree-granting institutions, most bootcampers don’t qualify for traditional student loans like Pell Grants. As a result, many students put their tuition on a credit card, borrow money from friends and family, or use savings. As the coding bootcamp industry has grown, so too has the business of financing them. Most bootcamps offer financing options, payment plans, and loan partnerships through companies like Skills Fund, Pave, Climb Credit and Affirm, in addition to scholarships and discounts for women, military veterans, and underrepresented minorities.  

Other creative ways to pay for your code school tuition: 

  • Students who are already employed and are attending bootcamp to gain skills for their current job are often able to work out a deal with their employer to cover some if not all of the cost of the bootcamp. 
  • Crowdfunding your coding bootcamp tuition is always worth a try! 
  • Ask the bootcamp if they offer a partial tuition refund if you accept a job with one of their hiring partners. Our research finds that 15% of graduates got a tuition refund this way. 
  • There are many great scholarship opportunities for coding bootcamps based on merit, gender, race, service in the armed forces, and financial need. Explore all of these options and don’t leave money on the table that you could’ve been putting towards your education!