Op-ed: Are education boot camps the new Gold Rush?

As boot camps become the “vocational school for the digital age,” are IT skills worth their weight in gold?

Photo: L. C. McClure – Brinkley, Douglas. Forty-Niner panning for gold in 1850 California.

Highly motivated individuals are flocking to California, seeking a way to make money in a short amount of time using nothing more than their smarts and a drive to succeed…And no, they’re not Forty-Niner’s.

They’re frustrated young professionals, like an astrophysics major from Barnard who couldn’t find work post-graduation except as a paralegal, and a 31 year-old seamstress who wanted a better job. And though these two couldn’t sound more different, they both have one thing in common: A sparkle in their eye thanks to the promise of career gold, otherwise known as coding boot camps.

You can read all about these boot camps in a recent New York Times article, which reveals tantalizing nuggets such as “three-quarters of graduates were employed,” and grads have “an average salary of $76,000;” or in eCampus News’ recent article, which describes the promise made by recent global startup CodersTrust to employ IT students in outsourcing and freelance jobs.

Even teachers are being offered pieces of the coding pie thanks to CareerFoundry and its new professional development mentoring program.

But I have to wonder: Are boot camps and short-term online programs sustainable models, or are they simply get-salaried quick opportunities for a selective few?

(Next page: A critical look into the sustainability of education boot camps)