Coding skills are in demand: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 15 percent increase in the number of web developer jobs available between 2016 and 2026.
There are several ways to learn how to code. Some websites such as Codecademy – the one Beigle-Bryant used — offer free courses that you can try out at your pace, as well as paid courses. Another route is an immersive boot camp that requires 40 to 80 hours per week of in-person courses that can last up to 15 weeks.
Approximately 10 percent of boot camp graduates are over the age of 40, according to data from Course Report, a website that offers research and reviews of coding education options.
“We talk to people who have been working for 20 years but had to take off for health or family,” says Liz Eggleston, cofounder of Course Report. “When they come back in they want to try something different. Other people don’t take any time off. They’ve been in book publishing or music or retail and then decide that they want to change careers. So, everyone kind of has a different motivation. ”
More than 45 million people worldwide have completed a course on Codecademy, with nearly a million of them over the age of 55. “It’s never too late to get started,” Sims says. “There’s a bit of popular thought that you have to be an expert in math or computers. There really is no prerequisite. ”
Other free schooling includes Dash, Khan Academy and Learn Enough. The coding tutorials on these websites are typically modular, breaking each course into smaller segments that you complete at your own pace. Many students study for an hour or two each night.
There are also approximately 100 in-person, immersive coding boot camps nationwide that charge tuition of upwards of $ 12,000. Among the most prominent are General Assembly, Flatiron School and Fullstack Academy. Course Report can be helpful for exploring the differences among the schools. These boot camps are generally not eligible for federal student loans. Some boot camps do partner with finance companies to offer their students loans for tuition.
Some community colleges and universities – including Northwestern, Rutgers, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Texas at Austin – have recently introduced boot camps. You can apply to enroll in the boot camp without being a student at the university. These collegiate-run boot camps tend to be slightly more affordable than the privately operated boot camps.
“If you want to code as a hobby or build your blog or website, then you should start with something free,” says Eggleston. “If your goal is to do a few contract jobs a year, then I would suggest a part-time program. But if your goal is a full-time job, then a coding boot camp might be the best fit. You just have to calculate your [return on investment]which is something we tell everyone. ”
While it does take time and commitment to learn to code, the investment can pay off in many ways.
“As an older worker transitioning from one job to another, it’s hard to stay positive because you have to continually prove yourself,” says Beigle-Bryant. “Learning to code was a way to stay positive and productive.”