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Boot Camp Growth Rate Slowed in 2019

closeup of coding on computer

Boot camps generated nearly half a billion dollars ($460.7 million) in 2019 and graduated almost 34,000 students. The average cost for an in-person bootcamp education was $13,293 (compared to $26,593 for the average cost of a four-year computer science degree). The average cost for online bootcamps, which drew about 21 percent of students, was higher: $14,623. Those results came out of research done by a company that makes its money connecting people to the right coding bootcamps.

Career Karma's "State of the Bootcamp Market Report 2020" analyzed data from 105 bootcamps from a variety of sources: LinkedIn, Glassdoor and an internal list maintained by the company itself. Those bootcamp companies included in the research needed to fit four conditions:

  • They had to offer instruction totaling at least 30 hours each week that incorporated extras such as mentoring, one-on-one advising and live instruction;
  • They needed to offer instruction in at least one technical discipline, such as full-stack web development or digital marketing;
  • They needed to have a U.S.-based campus or enroll students based in the United States; and
  • They needed to have "complete" profiles on LinkedIn, enabling the researchers to use "self-reported data" from graduates as a means for assessing graduate success.

Among the key findings shared in the study were these:

  • The researchers identified 46 universities that have teamed up with bootcamp companies to deliver courses as a supplement to their own degree offerings, representing about 20,000 graduates. Nearly half (46 percent) of those graduates are people of color, and 30 percent are female. The average age of students is 32.
  • The top five courses taught at bootcamps are web development, software engineering, data science, user experience design and digital marketing. Among the top languages taught at bootcamps, about a third of graduates have focused on learning cascading style sheets as their primary skill. Another quarter have picked up JavaScript. From there, the main preferences are HTML (17 percent), SQL (14 percent), Python (6 percent), Ruby (5 percent) and Java (2 percent).
  • Growth has slowed tremendously in the segment. Although an analysis of the market published in August 2019 by Course Report projected a growth rate of 49 percent during the year, Career Karma reported an increase of just 4.4 percent between 2018 and 2019, compared to 26 percent between 2017 and 2018 and 21 percent between 2016 and 2017. Researcher James Gallagher suggested that the market has become saturated. The reason to think that: Bootcamps are moving beyond coding instruction to deliver training in new skillsets, such as user experience design and cybersecurity.
  • About a quarter of the bootcamps included in the study offered income-share agreements for their students, a bump up from the previous year. Under these agreements, students pay back their tuition only after they've found a job that pays over a certain amount; however, the total payment can be considerably higher than the amount paid up front, depending on what level of income the student earns. For example, General Assembly, the largest bootcamp in terms of student enrollment, charges $14,950 for tuition paid up front; under the income share, on an income of at least $40,000 students would pay a 10 percent income share over 24 months, with a payment cap of $22,050. Make School, one of the priciest bootcamps, charges upfront tuition of $60,000. Under the income share, those who earn at least $50,000 would pay a quarter of that over 42 months, with a payment cap of $90,000. The average terms for income sharing were a 38-month period, $42,476 minimum income threshold, 13.8 percent income share, and $32,754 payment cap.
  • The top five companies that have hired the most bootcamp graduates as of 2019 were Google (who employed 527 bootcamp grads), Microsoft (with 361), Amazon (337), Facebook (251) and JPMorgan Chase (238). The top locations for employment were major metropolitan areas: New York (with about 17,000 graduates), San Francisco (with 13,400 grads), Los Angeles (with 5,200), Seattle (4,800) and Washington, DC (3,200).
  • The 10 largest bootcamps in terms of enrollment for 2019 were General Assembly, Hack Reactor/Galvanize, Flatiron School, Ironhack and Bloc. However, General Assembly, which has been building its bootcamp business since 2011, rocks the segment: It had 44,800 graduates as of Dec. 21, 2019, compared to its next biggest rival, Hack Reactor/Galvanize, with 6,300 graduates.

"It has become clear that coding bootcamps are starting to fill a real market demand," wrote James Gallagher, Career Karma researcher and author of the report. "Coding bootcamps offer people who are underserved by traditional offerings the ability to acquire in-demand technology skills within a quicker timeline." The potential, he added, "could be much larger than we see today." Among the areas for possible expansion: specialization within new categories, such as developer operations and cloud computing or even non-technical areas, such as nursing.

The full report is openly available online on the Career Karma website. A PDF edition is also available.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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