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Coding boot camps are programs that teach programming skills. Typically, these boot camps are short (12 weeks to 7 months), often intense (sometimes requiring 90 hours / week), and generally designed to teach beginners enough to grow into professional junior software developers.
And, the demand for their graduates is robust and growing. According to Dave Molina, former captain of the United States Army and founder and executive director of Operation Code, a non-profit, online, open-source coding program for active duty military personnel, veterans and their families, “There is has over 200,000 open IT jobs. each year in the United States, with 30,000 of those jobs held by computer science graduates; However, that number is expected to reach 1.2 million by 2020. Meanwhile, we have 250,000 US military personnel who leave the service each year, many of whom have the discipline and skills to take on these jobs, if they have. received training in computer coding. . “
These are generally high paying jobs. Rod Levy, the founder and executive director of Code Platoon, a nonprofit Chicago coding camp for veterans, says that “the starting salaries for graduates who come straight out of boot camp are around 65. $ 000, reaching approximately $ 100,000 after five years of experience. . Graduate placement rates are high.
So why are coding boot camps a good option for veterans?
Levy lists several reasons: “As we know, veterans often find it difficult to ‘translate’ their military experience to a civilian audience. Coding boot camps solve this problem by giving veterans ready-made skills that are well understood in the job market, ”he said.
“Even more important,” Levy added, “successful software developers generally need to work well as a team, demonstrate courage and resilience, and be able to systematically solve problems. These characteristics are often found in veterans.
Molina supports this point of view. He said, “Army veterans have the right skills to become programmers. Technical expertise, emotional resilience, psychological perseverance and teamwork – these are the qualities found in our best and brightest and these are the qualities of the best programmers.
There are coding boot camps to meet the needs of every veteran. These different coding boot camps are distinguished by the following characteristics:
- Intensity level. “Immersive” lasts approximately 60 to 80 hours per week; “Full time” can be 30 to 70 hours per week; “Part-time” is generally 10 to 30 hours per week.
- In person or remotely. In person means that you spend the majority of the training on site, with instructors and fellow students on site. Remote means you do the training on your home computer, wherever you are.
- Internships / placement. This one is obvious. Coding boot camps that offer internships and / or have high placement rates for entry-level software developers should be seriously considered.
- Focus on the population. A few coding boot camps serve specific populations and seek to tailor their programs to those populations, as well as create a “safe” space where members of those populations can feel more comfortable. There are coding boot camps only for women, minorities, and veterans, to name a few. Obviously, veterans should choose a boot camp that meets their specific needs, when possible, and leverage their new GI bill whenever possible.
With all of these various aspects of coding boot camps, what should a veteran look for when choosing a coding boot camp? At a minimum, veterans should consider the following when selecting a training camp:
- Different boot camps are meant to serve different interests. Remote online boot camps, like Thinkful.com, are much more convenient than in-person boot camps, such as Code Platoon, where you have to move to Chicago for a few months. The trade-off for this convenience is that it can be very difficult to stay motivated, fully understanding the material, and asking questions of your peers and instructors. In-person training camps, on the other hand, offer the immediate feedback and support that may be lacking in remote programs, although they may not be located close to when the veteran is living or working. Therefore, their participation can be much more expensive.
A representative list of code schools and scholarship information can be found on the Operation Code website at the following link: https://www.operationcode.org/code_schools
- If your goal is to build skills for a new career in programming, look for a program that will allow you to complete at least around 1000 hours of coding / instruction, at the absolute minimum. Whether it’s in an immersive 12-week program at 80 hours per week, or a one-year program at 20 hours per week, it’s up to you; but 1,000 hours of focused, guided programming learning is the bare minimum needed to become a proficient programmer.
- The choice of technology stack is often a source of much debate, with tradeoffs around the number of jobs versus the learning curve required for different languages. Ultimately there are a lot of jobs in each of the languages / stacks that are taught. Always look for a coding boot camp where the programming stack is in high demand, with many jobs available immediately after graduation.
Cost is an important consideration that the veteran should keep in mind when choosing the right camp of code to meet their needs. Most coding schools offer scholarships to veterans to help defray costs. At Code Platoon, for example, the tuition is $ 13,000 for the full program. However, all veterans accepted into the program receive a scholarship of $ 10,500, bringing the total cost of the program to the veteran to $ 2,500. Travel costs to and from Chicago and living expenses while participating in the program in Chicago are extra.
There is no charge for Operation Code programs and services for active duty military members, National Guard and Reserve troops, veterans and their spouses. Information on conference scholarships is available on the Operation Code website: https://operationcode.org/scholarships.
How about using the Post-9/11 GI Bill to attend one of those coding camps? Currently, 5 code schools across the country accept the New GI Bill: Sabio (Los Angeles), Code Fellows (Seattle), Galvanize, RefactorU and SkillDistillery (Colorado).
However, most coding schools are not eligible to receive GI Bill funds. Code Platoon hopes to be eligible for GI Bill funding within a year. Each state has its own licensing body that approves New GI Bill participation programs, with two years of school operation experience typically required. You can find more information on this on the Operation Code website at https://operationcode.org/code_schools.
Internships, mentoring partners, and placement are all important considerations for the veteran when choosing a coding camp. Code Platoon, for example, pairs its students with two industry partners, who work with the student throughout the program.
Operation Code provides its military veteran members with ongoing software mentorship through its Software Mentor Protege program, where its members get help with their code, by partnering online in a peer-to-peer learning environment with Professional software developers for lifelong learning and understanding in an inclusive and nurturing environment.
And, most coding schools help their graduates with job placement assistance upon completion of their programs.
Obviously, there are a lot of things that veterans need to consider before applying to coding camp.
The different types of programs, whether onsite or online, need to be determined. The reputation of the coding camp, the success of its graduates, costs, potential use of the GI Bill, scholarships, internships, mentoring, and job placement assistance should all be carefully considered.
But, one thing is perfectly clear about obtaining the skills necessary to be a successful computer programmer. It offers the opportunity to have a lasting career in a growing and well-paying field that will change the world.
And what better than that for veterans and their families?
Watch this introduction to Code Platoon:
And now, check out this introduction to Operation Code:
Paul Dillon is the head of Dillon Consulting Services, LLC, a veteran community service company with offices in Durham and Chicago. To learn more, visit their website here.