The bootcamp market is booming and – particularly as it continues to move online – it has the potential to become one of the dominant forms of education for career and life transitions.
Coding bootcamps, for example, reached a market size of 418.08 million in 2022 with forecasted growth of 12.27% CAGR from 2022 to 2030– to more than US $1 billion.
And these figures don’t even take into account the emerging market for online bootcamps in other areas of business as well as in lifestyle topics like fitness, culinary skills, woodworking, and more.
While coding bootcamps are getting most of the attention currently, the format clearly offers a huge opportunity for edupreneurs to become providers of the practical skills needed for today’s employment market as well as for the skills and knowledge that prospective learners seek in all walks of life.
What is a Bootcamp?
First things first: how do we define bootcamp?
A bootcamp is an intense, condensed training experience aimed at rapidly teaching a skillset and/or body of knowledge. The focus is typically on foundational knowledge – allowing a student to go from little to no ability to a baseline level of competence very quickly.
The bootcamp concept is typically associated with military service, where new soldiers are put through intensive training in the weeks after enlisting to rapidly indoctrinate them in the ways of the military and provide them with the fundamental skills they will need to perform effectively as a soldier.
This same approach translates well to areas of employment in which there is high demand, but short supply. It also translates well to just about any area of life where a person wants jumpstart efforts to learn something new.
An online bootcamp, of course, simply takes this approach and converts into delivery using tools like online course platforms, webinar platforms, and other approaches that enable learners to access the needed content over the Internet.
As already noted, bootcamps are booming – but what’s driving this growth? It comes down to the convergence of three major trends:
- The massive growth of online learning – particularly in the form of massive open online courses, or MOOCs
- The need to fill positions across rapidly evolving industries like technology, marketing, and healthcare
- The inability (some might say failure) of traditional higher education to fill the gap between supply and demand in the tech employment market and, increasingly, other markets.
I’ve already offered a range of e-learning statistics to cover the growth of online learning, including MOOCs – and, really, this growth is at the core of Leading the Learning Revolution.
The global COVID-19 pandemic was, of course, a huge factor in pushing education providers and students online. Even those who had been reluctant to pursue e-learning before were pretty much forced to as in-person classes became difficult or impossible. CareerKarma, for example, notes that there was a a 30.32% increase from 2019 to 2020 (when nearly 45,000 people attended or graduated from coding bootcamps), due to the shift to online learning. (Source) Additionally, the average cost of bootcamps dropped from $13,958 in 2019 to $11,727 in 2020, a decline that is almost certainly attributable to the shift to online learning.
Perhaps counter-intuitively, automation – or even just the fear of automation – is a big contributing factor to the need to fill new positions across many industries. According to the World Economic Forum, one in every three occupations “may be at risk of automation.” Bootcamps provide a way to rapidly upskill and reskill people in fields and industries that are impacted by automation.
Automation aside, pretty much any career path that involves software development is experience growth. Software engineering positions, for example, are expected to rise at a pace of 22% between 2019 and 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Finally, I’ve also discussed the challenges face by traditional higher education and argued that is prime for replacement by other providers in many cases. The tech industry is, in many ways, Exhibit A in that argument. Higher ed has not kept up with the growing need for coders, and thus bootcamps have emerged rapidly to meet that need.
In terms of revenue, Absolute Market Insights reports that the coding bootcamp market stood at $ 418.08 million in 2022 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.27% during the forecast period of 2022 – 2030. (Source)
Another report by CareerKarma, the coding bootcamp grossed $518+ Million with a YOY growth of 30.32%. In the report, there were 44,254 bootcamp graduates in 2020 and a projection of 64,432 students in 2021.
The market size number includes anybody who has participated in or graduated from a bootcamp program, not only those who have enrolled in a bootcamp to retrain for a different job.
According to Statista, from 2013 to 2020, North America (United States & Canada) recorded 109,949 coding bootcamp graduates. In 2020, almost 25 thousand people graduated from coding bootcamps in North America, a significant increase from the previous year’s 18,027. Since 2013, bootcamps have grown 10 times and recorded a 39% growth rate.
Another source, CareerKarma, says the coding bootcamp market grossed $518+ million in 2020, with a year-over-year growth of 30.32%. According to CareerKarma, there were 44,254 bootcamp graduates in 2020 and a projection of 64,432 students in 2021. The market size number includes anybody who has participated in or graduated from a bootcamp program, not only those who have enrolled in a bootcamp to retrain for a different job. (Source)
Below are some bootcamps and their 2020 graduate numbers based on data CareerKarma pulled from LinkedIn profiles.
A 2022 report from Technavio says that the bootcamp market will increase by USD 772.04 million from 2020 to 2025, and the market’s growth momentum will accelerate at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.88%. (Source)
Finally, HolonIQ reports that tech bootcamps – the broader category that contains coding bootcamps – reskilled and upskilled over 100,000 professionals globally in 2021, up from less than 20,000 in 2015. HolonIQ projects that this number will grow to 380,000 by 2025 representing over $3 billion in expenditures on bootcamps. (Source)
The bottom line is that no matter whose numbers you go with, the coding bootcamp market – and broader tech bootcamp market – is large and growing rapidly. And there’s no reason to expect that the same factors that are impacting training for coders won’t impact other markets.
The general need for reskilling and upskilling is strong across a wide variety of industries and bootcamps are a natural solution for meeting this need. Additionally, the prospect of being able to gain significant new knowledge and skills rapidly and efficiently – whether for career purposes or just for life in general – is attractive to many, if not most adult learners.
How Long Does a Bootcamp Usually Last?
So, what are some of the key characteristics of bootcamps as a format? Again, it’s mainly the coding bootcamp market we have to look to at this point for data.
A 2019 study from RTI international reported that coding bootcamps run for an average of 16.5 weeks (4 months). But keep in mind that this figure is from a time when bootcamps were primarily in-person – before the massive shift toward online options that the pandemic brought.
In reality, bootcamps vary in length dramatically – from as little as a week to several months – depending on factors like how ambitious the target outcomes for the bootcamp are or how frequently classes take place and how long each class is. Full-time bootcamps for instance run for 12 weeks on average while part-time courses can go for up to 24 weeks. Some, like those offered by thefirehoseproject.com, stretch as long as 40 weeks. (Source)
The limited data we have suggests that programs in other bootcamp markets may run for somewhat shorter periods, on average, than in the coding bootcamp market. In its list of digital marketing bootcamps, for example, Course Report includes only offerings that provide for 10+ hours of class time per week for at least 10 weeks. (In truth, quite a few of the bootcamps Course Reports lists are shorter than this.)
That’s at the longer end of the spectrum. A bootcamp in an area like woodworking, on the other hand, Woodwork bootcamps for instance can run for just 1 week while still covering major aspects of a 4-year course. I’ve personally attended a consulting “college” – essentially a bootcamp – that ran for five full, in-person business days.
As with all learning experiences, the length of a bootcamp should ultimately be determined by a combination of the outcomes to be achieved, the methods that work best for achieving those outcomes, and the needs of the prospective learners – including the amount of time they are able to devote to a bootcamp and the frequency of participation they can manage.
Clearly speed and intensity are hallmarks of bootcamps, but too much of either can render a bootcamp ineffective.
How Much Do Bootcamps Cost?
Length is one key consideration with bootcamps. Cost, obviously, is another. While bootcamps usually cost significantly less than pursuing a traditional degree or even a major certification, that doesn’t mean they are cheap. There is high value in being able to deliver substantial knowledge and skills in a condensed time frame, and bootcamp price tags generally reflect that value.
Again, the coding bootcamp market is Exhibit A. Best Colleges reports that the median cost of bootcamps in 2021 was $13,580 in 2021. By contrast, the average cost of a four-year undergraduate program (tuition and fees) was $35,720 per year in 2020-21, according to EducationData.org.
According to Course Report, the average coding bootcamp costs $14,000 with graduates reporting an average entry salary of $69,000.
That entry salary, of course, reflects a pretty substantial return on investment (ROI) for the student. ZDNet reports that bootcamps deliver a median salary increase of $22,000 over their pre-bootcamp jobs. I haven’t been able to confirm ZDNet’s source on that, but even assuming a more modest $10K per year salary bump, that’s nearly 400% ROI over five years. And that doesn’t even account for the fact the bootcamp may be the key to securing – or keeping – a job in the first place.
Data on other bootcamps is less clear. Among top-listed digital marketing bootcamps on Course Report, the average for those that provided pricing was $3,327 at the time this article was originally published (August 2022).
The woodworking bootcamp mentioned above – which runs for just one week – is offered by the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association (WMIA) and costs $1,950 for WMIA and $2,400 cost for non-members.
The consulting bootcamp I mention now costs something like $15K (it was a bit lower when I participated), and because it was in-person, also came with substantial travel costs. That said, it paved the path toward being able to charge multiples of what I had previously charged for consulting. The ultimately return on investment was very high.
The Bootcamp Opportunity for Edupreneurs
So, what’s the opportunity if you are a consultant, coach, trainer, or other expertise-based business looking for new models?
While there is clearly a high demand these days for short, efficient training in the form of microlearning, it is also clearly true that there are times when people need to go deep and do it fast across a much larger body of content. If you have the expertise to help them do that, then offering a bootcamp (or multiple bootcamps) in the foundational or major “stepping stone” areas in your niche could represent a way to deliver a huge amount of value to your audience – and charge appropriately for it.
I view bootcamps as offerings that – along with masterclasses – can play a key strategic role in the upper half of your Value Ramp. (Much more on the Value Ramp here.) Indeed, in most cases they would likely be only a step or two below your most personalized, customized offerings – like high-end consulting projects or intensive, one-on-one coaching.
With that in mind – and given the growth that we’re seeing in the online bootcamp market and will likely continue to see – it’s well worth spending some time looking at your Value Ramp, evaluating your portfolio, and determining if a bootcamp is an offering it makes sense to add to your product mix.
- Bootcamps are having a significant impact in the academic continuing education space. See, for example, How Boot Camps Are Shifting the Continuing Ed Space.
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