The GI Bill® will pay for college or a VA-approved coding bootcamp. For bootcamp programs, the VA uses a formula to calculate how much time to deduct from your benefits based on the program’s tuition and how it compares to average college costs.
That’s good news for veterans looking for a second career in the technology sector. The tech industry is fast-paced, action-oriented, and often focused on completing small goals to accomplish large ones, a familiar process for those trained by the military. With average salaries for entry-level programmers averaging around $80,000, it’s a great time to learn how to code and get paid for your expertise.
Why attend a coding bootcamp instead of college?
You could always attend a two- or four-year college degree program in computer science and learn software development. Or you could train for these jobs by completing a specialized bootcamp program.
A bootcamp is an immersive, intense full-time learning environment. Students should prepare to scale back outside activities and give up full-time employment for the program’s course. Coding bootcamps vary in length from six to 28 weeks, although the average time is about 14 weeks long. Military service members transitioning from active duty to veteran status can often leverage terminal leave to attend a coding bootcamp.
If you’re still wondering whether to choose a college program or a tech career accelerator, here are some points to consider:
- College isn’t for everyone. You may not have the time or money for four years of study or aren’t interested in all the extras that come with college life.
- GI Bill® education benefits can pay for tuition, housing, and other associated costs of attending an approved bootcamp, much like when you attend college.
- Interviewers for coding and developer jobs evaluate you on practical skills and experience, not your academic performance. Many bootcamps feature a Capstone project, in-depth work to solve a problem that becomes part of your portfolio so you can show potential employers what you can do.
- Many bootcamps have job placement programs to help you find an internship or land a job after graduation.
- In some cases, bootcamp programs will offer a job guarantee within a certain amount of time after graduation, or they will refund your tuition costs.
What should veterans look for in a Bootcamp?
A tech workforce development program usually translates into extensive, hands-on instruction in say, learning how to write code in less time than it takes to complete a two- or four-year degree program. Some bootcamps may be offered through established state or private universities, while some private providers offer training programs.
What should you look for in a bootcamp?
- The bootcamp should meet the criteria as a VA-approved institution. Some coding schools may have only some programs that are GI Bill® eligible, but not others.
- Bootcamps typically can adapt to changes in the tech industry faster than a college. Ask if the curriculum incorporates feedback from industry partners and is updated to teach the latest practices.
- Coding bootcamps should be training students in practical skills. Will you get to work with a client or organization on a project? See if the program you’re interested in offers a Capstone project or an internship as part of the curriculum.
- A successful bootcamp ensures its students get the jobs they are trained to do, so check on job placement resources and guarantees. Resume help, interview training, and a robust network of industry partners interested in hiring graduates means better chances of getting that sought-after tech job.
- A school offering a tuition refund guarantee is aligning its business incentives with the interests of its students. If students aren’t successful, then neither is the school. Look for a tuition policy that either defers tuition payment until employed in a qualified position or guarantees a refund should a student fail to land a tech job within a specific timeframe.
If you’re a veteran in Texas, Codeup offers GI Bill® eligible programs
Texas-based Codeup offers accelerated programs in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and Houston to help you launch your tech career. No previous experience is needed to participate in any of Codeup’s accelerator programs, all of which are GI Bill® eligible.
Apply to Codeup’s full-stack web development to learn how to create an app or website from start to finish using today’s coding languages in just 20 weeks.
Apply to Codeup’s systems engineering bootcamp if you’re up for problem-solving in information technology in this 13-week accelerator.
Apply to Codeup’s cyber cloud bootcamp if you’re interested in a cybersecurity career with a focus on cloud computing and Amazon Web Services over 13 weeks.
Apply to Codeup’s data science bootcamp if you’d like to be a data scientist and learn how to apply machine learning models to make predictions and turn your insights into actionable recommendations over the course of 20 weeks.
You’ll also get professional job application counseling and support as an ongoing part of our curriculum, which continues even after graduation. Veterans and their dependents may also apply for a Codeup scholarship to offset the amount of VA benefits used for tuition.
Contributing Author Iris Gonzalez.