How I Learned to Code and Start Making Six Figures

Published: Jul 29, 2015

 Education       Grad School       Job Search       Technology       
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There are two main schools of thought when it comes to technology’s effects on our lives. One is that technology (and advances in technology) make our lives easier and perhaps better, giving us more information and more updated information, connecting us in ways we couldn't have dreamed of just a decade or two ago. The second is that our lives are run by technology, that we’re nothing but slaves of and to technology—a bunch of smartphone addicts who can’t help but binge on social media and other online content all day long—and our lives are much more distracted by technology than enhanced by it.

Irrespective of which school of thought you associate with most, technology is, when it comes to careers and jobs, where it’s at. That is, it’s where the jobs are, it’s where the money is, it’s where the prestige is. And this is why so many American workers are now looking to make a change and start working in the tech sector.

As far as how to go about do this if you’re interested in getting in on the tech game, it appears that school might be the answer—coding school.

In March, the White House announced an initiative, TechHire, to coordinate the efforts of the federal government, cities, corporations and schools to train workers for the thousands of current job openings in the tech sector. The Obama administration points to coding schools like Galvanize, Flatiron School and Hack Reactor, which offer accelerated training in digital skills as a way to “rapidly train workers for a well-paying job.”
The graduating classes of these coding schools support the trend. They will graduate about 16,000 students this year, more than double the 6,740 graduates last year, according to a survey published by Course Report in June. The 2015 total would be about one-third of the estimated number of computer science graduates from American universities. The largest concentration of the schools, often called boot camps, is in San Francisco, which has 12, followed by New York, with nine, and Seattle, eight.
Students are of a wide age range, but most are in their 20s and 30s. The typical student is a “29-year-old career changer,” said Liz Eggleston, co-founder of Course Report, which tracks these schools.

Indeed, thanks to these schools, there are examples of career changers who’ve gone from waiting tables and making $20K a year to working as data scientists and earning more than $100K a year, and from making cappuccinos and earning $30K a year to working as technology teaching assistants earning $80K a year.

Of course, Galvanize, Flatiron School, Hack Reactor, and other coding schools are no replacements for Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and Cal Tech. But they are competitive, run involved programs, and are located near many of the top tech employers (for example, Galvanize has campuses in San Francisco and Seattle, and Flatiron has a campus in New York), and thus, they’re seen as pretty legitimate.

Galvanize is selective, accepting about 20 percent of applicants. The vast majority are college graduates … Galvanize’s 24-week web programming course is one of the largest among the coding schools. The average class length among the schools is just under 11 weeks, and costs $11,000. Galvanize’s web programming course is also among the most expensive, at $21,000. The company offers scholarships and deferred payment plans, and has partnerships with online lenders like LendLayer and Earnest.

To boot, “the job placement rate for Galvanize students is 98 percent.”

And if you need more evidence that these coding schools work well for some, consider this very young graduate:

Ms. Worth, 22, signed up for the Galvanize 24-week web programming class and excelled. Shortly after completing the course, she was hired by IBM as a software developer in San Francisco. She helps IBM’s corporate clients design and build web and mobile applications that run in remote cloud data centers, and she earns a six-figure salary.

I don’t know about you, but I’m convinced, not to mention more than a little enviou$.

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