Countdown to camp: Interest in coding boot camp grows in central Ohio


COLUMBUS-- Don't call them a class. The coding boot camp classroom is filled with adults learning about software development who insist you call them a "cohort".

"Java and C# .Net are taught here. Also, you've got SQL, Javascript, Jquery and Angular is the new big one," said Tech Elevator alum Jessica Parent.

The growing trend has many words that may not mean much to the average Ohioan, but a recent graduate of the program, Jessica Parent, insists the one word everyone will understand is 'pay'. Parent graduated from Tech Elevator months ago. She says her decision to train at the boot camp is already paying off in her new position as a systems engineer.

"I had a $25,000 per year salary increase," said Parent.

Tech Elevator Director Katie Detore said older students like Parent called "career changers" are the majority of the population the school sees come through. She said ages widely range, however. The classes are not for the faint of heart. The heavy math and computer science courses run all day, fulltime for 14 weeks. Detore said while her boot camp is located in three major Ohio cities, there are more than 90 similar camps across the U.S.

"It is getting even more popular now. The first of this type of job preparation started years ago," said Detore. "The coding boot camp really happened in 2011. The need only grows."

Tech Talent South, Tech Elevator and We Can Code IT are some of the resources offered in Columbus. Courses come with a cost. That price tag can be offsetting. Some computer-related boot camps run several hundred dollars with no guarantee of job placement at the end. Tech Elevator's program cost former student Steve Lynch about $14,000.

"It was about a year ago this month where I really furiously applied," said Lynch. "I knew it was going to be difficult financially. It meant a lot of getting by with family members' leftovers."

Lynch had been teaching in New York City, then several years ago moved to Ohio and worked within a charter school. He said he also needed to serve as a waiter to make ends meet. Lynch said he started noticing an overwhelming number of coding and computer technology job offerings and decided to pursue a completely different career path through coding boot camp. It was a jump.

"It was a risk, but I don't have to work 2 jobs anymore," said Lynch. He graduated and started a new job within Cardinal Health last December.

"It's a huge shift. I used to work in customer service and sales," said Parent. "To stop getting that paycheck and go back to school is not an easy decision to make," said Parent.

"The market rate for entry-level software developers in Central Ohio is around $55,000," said Detore. She said Tech Elevator boasts an 89% placement rate out of their graduates and of those not landing a job- Detore claimed the main factor was a lack of effort.

"Quite frankly, some people graduate our program and don't put in the effort it requires to land a job in the field," she said.

For those people choosing to explore coding boot camp there are some tools to gain more information and comparison. Resources include the Council on Integrity and Results Reporting.

Comparisons are also available on Course Report. The pathway of former students and careers they are seeking or have landed can be tracked through sites like LinkedIn.

All this week we are helping you get ready for camp! Learn how to choose the right one for your kids - and yourself.

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