Step 1: Develop a caffeine addiction. 🔗
If you want to add coding to your list of skills, either out of curiosity or to take your career in a whole new direction, you’ve probably considered a coding bootcamp. Then you’ve probably looked at the prices and time commitment and immediately wondered how to do a coding bootcamp part-time, instead.
A coding bootcamp isn’t the only way to learn. There are tons of strategies to get your coding skills from non-existent to employable. For example, you could go back to university and get a formal education in computer science. You could try to DIY it. But personally, I think coding bootcamps are a great option to expand and deepen your coding skills in the most efficient and financially effective manner.
Once you’ve made the big decision and decided to do a coding bootcamp, it can be tricky to figure out how and when you will fit it into your schedule. Obviously, it would be great to jump into it full-time. But I know when I was contemplating the prospect, I wasn’t confident in taking so much time off from my current job for the chance of getting a new job right after the bootcamp.
Recruiting processes take several weeks on their own, so I could potentially have been out of work for an extended period of time. And since I like money and having a career, that option was less than ideal.
So, like a lot of people, I considered how to do a part-time coding bootcamp online. But that’s still usually 20+ hours of work per week. Some employers make it simple to cut back on your hours for a period of time. Others (like mine) may not be open to it. Since keeping your current employment is probably quite important, it’s best to figure out if and how your work schedule may change before selecting a coding bootcamp to participate in.
Choose the Right Coding Bootcamp for Your Situation 🔗
Your existing commitments are the biggest factor in choosing a coding bootcamp. Depending on how demanding your day job is and what your other commitments outside of it are, you should choose between a full-time, part-time, or on-demand bootcamp. Doing a full-time coding bootcamp is quite a large gamble, since most would require you to resign from your current position to meet the time commitments required.
If you’ve got the time and resources (most bootcamps cost around $13k) to spare and doing a coding bootcamp is your top priority, then I would highly recommend a synchronous, hands-on bootcamp. I think synchronous lessons and a well-structured, intense program are wonderful for helping you learn to code well quickly.
If you don’t have 40+ hours per week, which many of us don’t have, you can look into how to do a part-time coding bootcamp instead. Lots of part-time coding bootcamps have a few sessions in the evening and then one or two full-time days on the weekend. While it is very intense to do that on top of full-time work, it is certainly doable. This style of part-time coding bootcamp generally requires around 20 hours of work or self-study per week.
A third option that doesn’t get as much love is a fully asynchronous coding bootcamp. This style is incredibly flexible and tends to be a lot cheaper. If you’ve already got a lot on your plate, this format is much easier to fit into your existing weekly schedule. The asynchronous format works best for those who tend to be self-starters and aren’t afraid of having to figure out some errors or concepts on their own. Since this style of boot camp is fully asynchronous, you can change how much time you invest every week to fit your schedule.
Manage Your Expectations 🔗
Regardless of the format of bootcamp you choose to participate in, it’s good to set your expectations for yourself and the program from the start. Here’s the expectation: you’re going to have to work a lot.
Every format of bootcamp will recommend or require a certain number of self-study hours each week. You should figure out how many the program requires and whether you want to commit to on top of the modules and homework assignments. Full-time bootcamps often ask for a total of 60+ hours per week including all the self study. That’s 1.5 full-time jobs!
I recommend setting a goal number of hours per work to dedicate to the bootcamp outside of the lectures and officially organized program time. When you’re first learning to code, a lot of hurdles can get in your way. Some concepts might make immediate sense to you, or you might struggle with a few much longer than other classmates. There are many factors that determine how quickly you are able to grasp a concept, so it’s great to build in some study buffer for yourself so you can double down on those concepts that are tricky for you.
On top of regular study, a lot of bootcamps have homework assignments. While it is easy to get frustrated when you hit unexpected efforts, it’s incredibly important that you find a way to recognize your own efforts. Budget in time for things to not work or take longer than estimated and find a way to reward yourself just for trying. Even if the code isn’t running after a few hours, you’ll still have learned plenty about the issue and lots of ways of how not to solve it. I suggest a chapter in an audiobook, or a baked good if that hits your fancy. I always go for chocolate chip cookies.
Keep Motivation High 🔗
Twenty, forty, or even just five hours of code per week is a lot when you’re just starting out. Learning to code on top of your work and life is a huge challenge. It’s not an easy skill to acquire. Regardless of the bootcamp style you choose, it’s going to be a big time commitment for at least several months. With all of that time, energy, and effort, it can be hard to keep up your motivation for doing the bootcamp.
So how do you keep motivation up?I like to pick some kind of cool project I could use my new skills to implement. Whenever I get the chance, I work a little further on my project to put those theoretical concepts to use for a project that means a lot to me. This could even turn in to your portfolio project for the end of the bootcamp, if the one you pick has that. That helps make it all more real to me. I’m not just debugging code because it’s a homework assignment, I’m debugging code because ultimately it’ll help me build my amazing app that lets me translate my dog’s barks. (Not a real example, although I wish it were!)
Rewarding your accomplishments, whether that’s finishing a homework assignment or fixing an issue in the portfolio project, recognize all that you’re learning and the energy you’re investing to do so.
Lay the Foundations 🔗
A lot of bootcamps list concepts you should familiarize yourself with or small coding skills you should master before starting. If they don’t, you can try asking the organizers for recommendations of resources. Otherwise, find a couple of tutorials, books, or blogs to pore over.
Make sure you budget enough prep time to really have all of these hammered down. Although you are participating in a bootcamp to learn to code, it’s much easier to expand an existing framework of knowledge than it is to build scaffolding to learn a whole new skill.
Putting in this extra effort in advance will allow you to have a smoother start in the course, and you can think of it as an investment into your ultimate ROI. The money and time you invest in the bootcamp will have a significantly larger impact during the course.
Price Distribution 🔗
The price of online coding bootcamps varies a lot. Some are very affordable, some are quite a bit of money. You can choose how you want to approach your upskilling. Starting with a cheaper one with a less serious time commitment might give you a better idea of whether you want to fully invest in a multi-thousand dollar program. You’re unlikely to find a free part time coding bootcamp that’s worth your time, though, so get ready to shell out some money at least.
(The only way to get a free coding bootcamp is by applying for scholarships, or by signing away a percentage of your future earnings.)
Asynchronous Part-Time Coding Bootcamps 🔗
A self-paced coding bootcamp can be a useful option if you’re really worried about time. Boot.dev has a great asynchronous coding bootcamp with several different options for focus areas. Their whole program only costs $30 per month. They also have a really strong community on Discord where you can share cool personal projects, get inspired by projects from others, attend tech talks, and even get help from people in industry with your resume and job applications.
Outside of boot.dev, sites like Pluralsight and Udemy have lots of relatively affordable courses to learn to code which are also accessed with a monthly subscription.
Synchronous Part-Time Coding Bootcamps 🔗
There are plenty of boot camps out there at a higher price point which do require you to meet synchronously with the program a few times a week.
Codesmith has a 9-month part-time remote program which requires 20 hours committed per week. This program comes in at a higher price point, as it costs $20K. The part time coding bootcamp cost is usually a little higher than fulltime, but it also gives you more time to pay it, and lower monthly payments overall.
There’s a large variety of these kinds of programs. There may be a few which fit your schedule better in terms of which days of the week they meet on or whether it fits your budget.
For $16.5K you can join Brainstation.io’s online remote coding bootcamp. Flat Iron School also has a 40-week program for $16.9K.
Final Thoughts on Part-Time Coding Bootcamps 🔗
Even just picking a part-time coding bootcamp is a steep challenge, let alone completing it. There are a lot of different options out there, and if you really want the bootcamp to be effective, it’s important you pick the right format for your lifestyle and goals. There’s no best part time coding bootcamp, just the best one for you.
If you haven’t done too much prep work on your own, I recommend a longer course to give yourself enough time to learn everything you’ll need to know to land your first job and successfully get your feet under you as a professional programmer.
It’s great to try out one of the cheaper courses to build up some foundational knowledge. You’ll get a feel for whether you need the added structure of a synchronous program to motivate yourself or you just want some more live interactions on your learning journey.
Some of the asynchronous courses like boot.dev’s have online communities which can help you when you get stuck, give you career advice, and help you figure out how to best expand and use your growing knowledge.
Expanding your skills and knowledge into a brand new area will take time. A single bootcamp, regardless of how intense it is, will probably not be enough to successfully launch the start of your career as a software developer. A variety of books, mentors, programs, bootcamps, courses, and more will provide you with a thorough enough education to send you happily and competently on your way.