I love what’s happening in education.
Okay, to be fair, there’s a lot I don’t love:
I don’t love how high tuition is getting, and I don’t love how many people end up with ridiculously high student loans.
But, I do love how people are catching on to the fact that you don’t have to get a college degree to be successful.
And, I absolutely love how people from all walks of life can break into a web design career with an online, part-time web design bootcamp.
A bootcamp is a different kind of education outside of the 4 year University. It’s typically anywhere from 3 – 18 months. And students can participate full-time or part-time.
The great thing is they typically don’t cost nearly as much as a bachelor’s degree. And, they focus on getting you job-ready.
Want to know what’s weird? I get flack from people when I mention I’m a self-taught web designer.
I don’t know if it’s that people who got a degree feel like I should have struggled through college like they did or what. But, teeth come out when I encourage someone to try learning web design on their own before going to college.
At the end of the day, I believe the tide is turning with education. When I first started learning web design I hadn’t even heard of a bootcamp.
Within a year or so of getting started, there were a few that popped up.
Now, they’re everywhere. Believe me I’ve done a lot of research on this…they are literally EVERYWHERE.
That can be a good and bad thing.
Good in that it gives a lot of people a lot of opportunities to change the trajectory of their career, finances and overall situation.
But also bad in that there’s a lot of pretty poor quality bootcamps out there that someone could aimlessly walk into without knowing any better.
Why I’m Writing This
Questions about web design bootcamps are something I see super frequently. A lot of people are interested and excited about them but there’s also a heavy dose of fear mixed in there.
And, I get it. It’s a big commitment both with time and money. Plus, the one you pick could have a big impact on the job you get or if you’re even able to get a web design job at all.
So, I thought it was time to do some research and offer some insight into the good, the bad and the ugly of all the online, part-time web design bootcamps out there.
So, here’s a list of my top 5.
A few qualifiers before we begin.
If you’re new to the web design world you might not have heard of some jargon that’s used like UX Design or Product Designer. Even I will sometimes intermix the terms and definitions.
The thing is that web design as a field of study is incredibly young. Especially when you compare it to something like blacksmithing which has been around for multiple centuries.
So, there’s still a lot of work to be done to define and identify what everyone’s talking about. But, to keep it easy I just call things web design.
If you’d like to read more about what a UX designer is I wrote an article here.
In order to qualify, a web design bootcamp had to be both online AND part-time.
There are plenty of online web design bootcamps. But, some of them are online and only full-time.
At the same time, some web design bootcamps are part-time but they’re at specific locations.
Another qualifier was that it couldn’t just be individual classes. It had to be a group of classes that progressed over a period of time.
There are plenty of web design classes on Udemy that would compare to something like that. And, don’t get me wrong, those can be great.
But, when it comes to web design bootcamps people are looking for something that can take them from zero knowledge to job-ready.
So, those were the pre-qualifiers to make the list.
Now, without further delay, I give you Chris’ list of the 5 Best Online, Part-Time Web Design Bootcamps
Bloc was started in 2012 by two college buddies. If you can believe it, it began with those two buddies tutoring people over skype.
In 2017 it had 96 people enrolled in their design course. About 14 people made it all the way through.
In 2018 Bloc was acquired by another bootcamp school known as Thinkful. Sure enough, you’ll notice some similarities between the two programs.
The designer track is pretty comprehensive. You get a good foundation in web design as well as some basic frontend development skills.
They say it takes about 8 months if you do 20 hours per week. BUT, you can finish earlier if you want because it’s self-paced. There’s even an opportunity to get some money back if you finish early.
Speaking of money, the program costs you $8500 if you pay in full and $9600 if you make payments which you can do by yourself paying $1200 per month until it’s paid off. You can also pay it off over 3 – 5 years through a loan program called Skills Fund.
Skills fund was made specifically for bootcamps just like this one. They only cover a few schools that they feel up to snuff. There are various levels of interest for these loans depending on how long you plan to pay it back.
So, if you get a loan you’ll end up paying more than the $9600.
The amount you pay can get reduced if you qualify for one of their scholarships.
There is a job guarantee and it’s similar to Thinkul. There’s some fine-print to it. Namely, you have to:
- Live within 1 hour of one of their approved cities
- Finish the program in 8 months or less
- Keep up with their career support services (which looks like it’s a weekly call)
Also, know that a job that only hires you for a 3 month contract still qualifies.
Overall it was the highest-rated part-time, online web design bootcamp on switchup.org.
Some of the positive feedback I read had to do with feeling proud of the work they did.
Some of the negative feedback had to do with the mentors. It seems like the quality and responsiveness of your mentor depends on who you get.
One student mentioned she had 5 different mentors over the course of 8 months.
The bottom line is the Bloc Design Track seems like a great part-time, online web design bootcamp. You’ve got to determine for yourself if it’s right for you, but it seems pretty solid.
Here’s a few portfolios from their students. So, you can see the quality of work they produce:
Wanna know a secret? Thinkful asked me if I’d be interested in being a mentor for their program. I said yes and then they never called back.
It’s modern-day web designer ghosting.
But, I’m not bitter. Thinkful has a good program.
Thinkful was founded by a guy that sold one of his businesses to Dell and a college student that was paid to drop out of Yale to start a company.
They started Thinkful in 2012.
The Product Designer track is a bit more design-focused than the Bloc Designer track. BUT, it’s still very solid.
And, you get two weekly calls with a mentor. But, not me. I won’t be your mentor. Still not bitter.
They say you’ll need about 6 months to finish but that’s spending anywhere from 25 – 40 hours of work per week. It’s flexible but just like Bloc there’s a timeline to get the job guarantee. If you don’t finish in 7 months or less you won’t be eligible.
The cost is $8500 if you pay in full but $9540 if you pay in payment plans.
The monthly payback is $1590 per month. So, you pay it off completely in 6 months. If you pay it back with a Skills Fund loan it’s estimated around $11k with the interest included.
They also have some scholarship opportunities like Bloc.
Just like Bloc they give you a solid foundation in web design skills and in finding a job.
There wasn’t a lot of feedback on the student reviews for the Product Designer track specifically. But, one person said the bi-weekly calls with the mentor was a lifeline.
Another person said that a lot of reading is required. So, if that’s not your learning style, you might want to think about another program.
3. Flatiron School
Flatiron was founded by Adam Enbar and Avi Flombaum. Adam was the business guy and Avi was the programmer. A self-taught one at that!
They had a bit of trouble in 2017 when they exaggerated the average earnings of their students. They settled for around $300k and kept moving on. They were bought out by We Work that same year.
In 2018, Flatiron bought another school called Designation. It was then they started to offer more web design focused bootcamps and classes.
You have a choice in this bootcamp. You can either focus on UX or UI.
UX deals with more research and overall concepts while UI has to do much more with what you typically think of in design.
They say it takes about 11 months to finish their course with 20 – 30 hours of work per week.
This web design bootcamp is pretty extensive. You go through a decent amount of design theory as well as some grounded UX princples. Then you round it off with skills you’ll need for the workplace.
The cost for this program might set you back a few pennies. It’s $15,000.
Not the cost of a full bachelors degree but still nothing to bat an eye at.
But, Flatiron School is the first part-time, online web design bootcamp on the list that offers payment through a portion of your income when you finish the program and land a web design job.
They call it an Income Share Agreement or ISA for short.
There are some stipulations to this. Mainly, you have to live in a certain state.
If you don’t have any money to pay for the bootcamp this might be a good option. BUT, watch out because you will be paying about $7,000 more for this option than if you paid it outright.
You get career coaching with the ISA as well. They have a vested interest in you getting a good job because well, if you don’t, they don’t get paid.
There is a job guarantee but the requirements are more extensive than the previous two bootcamps.
- You have to complete all of the assignments and required reading from your career coach.
- You have to notify them of your job search start date in writing.
- You have to complete 3 mock interviews with your career coach.
- You must be willing to work within 60 minutes of where you live.
- You have to meet with your career coach weekly.
- You have to contact 8 people per week related to the field
- You have to write or video 1 blog post per week pertaining to web design.
- You have to do one extra assignment per week, 3 modules outside of your specialization each week, and do one design challenge. You can find the challenges here.
Wow, that’s a lot. It’s like you almost have to go to school to make sure you’re eligible for the job guarantee.
If after all of that you don’t get a job that pays more than around $40k a year within 180 days of finishing, you get a refund. But, if you can actually DO all of these requirements I’m pretty sure you won’t have a hard time finding something.
Again, it was tough to find feedback about the web design bootcamp BUT the general sense I get is that people love the career services but find the classes themselves pretty fast-paced.
One cool thing about Flatiron School is you get a free year of space at a We Work facility.
Lambda was started by two BYU dropouts; Austin Allred and Ben Nelson.
Austin had been a part of a few startups and Ben had learned programming through a bootcamp himself.
They joined forces to try and help people break through the barrier to tech.
Lambda’s part-time, online web design bootcamp is the most expensive and the longest. It clocks in at 18 months and $20,000.
Lambda is different to the other schools in that your instruction is live. The teacher meets with you through a video call and you can interact with them during the class.
So, that means you have to be able to attend during their scheduled times which looks like Monday – Thursday 6pm to 9pm PST and either Friday, Saturday or Sunday at the same time.
It also means you can’t enroll whenever you want. There are official start and stop times.
You’ll get some strong web design principles and build a portfolio while doing so. You also get some foundations in frontend development.
One of the cool things they do is what they call Lambda Labs. You split into small teams and are given a project to work on together like a real-world setting.
You also get career instruction but there’s not an official module associated with it.
They don’t have a job guarantee that I’ve seen but they do have an ISA or Income Share Agreement.
They say your ISA is over when one of these three things happen
- You’ve made 24 payments
- You’ve paid a total of $30k
- It’s been 5 years since you’ve graduated
In general, they take 17% of your gross income after you find a job in your related field.
The feedback from the students is generally positive. They give high marks to the caliber of the instructors.
But, they also say it’s a crapshoot to get on a good team during your lab. If you get stuck with a bad one it can be tough.
Design Lab was started in 2012. Why did all bootcamp schools start in 2012? It’s like some weird bootcamp conspiracy.
The difference between Designlab and the other schools is that Designlab started with design as its sole focus. The other schools began with development and then added design later on.
It was started by Harish Venkatesan who was inspired to help others after reading a book called “Creative Workshop.” Yay for epiphanies!
He thought that anyone with some consistent and quality feedback as a designer could improve. So, he set up an unconventional school with mentorship as a key principle.
You start the bootcamp with a Design 101 course. This is meant to help ease you into the program and could be a good exit if you find it’s not for you.
Design 101 takes 4 weeks with about 10 – 15 hours per week. You pay $399 and can’t move on to the UX Academy until you finish it.
The UX Academy covers a lot of core UX principles but you also build 4 capstone projects along the way that include your personal brand, a responsive web design project, adding a feature to an established product and an end to end product.
The price is $6,749 which makes this our least expensive part-time, online web design bootcamp. But, you can also make payments with Climb Credit.
There is a tuition reimbursement if you don’t get a job within 6 months of graduating. To be eligible you have to:
- Meet all their career services requirements
- Be located in or within commuting distance to one of their approved cities
- If you don’t find a job within 18 weeks you’ll be required to do 6 additional weeks of course work while you’re job hunting
- You have to apply for 5 jobs per week which you must begin applying for no later than 3 weeks of starting with career services
- Attend at least 2 networks events per month in a specified location
Read more policies here.
There’s a lot of good reviews for Designlab. Many people say they liked the mentor interactions and project focused experience.
Some complained that the materials were too basic and their mentors were sub-par.
Bottom line, Designlab’s part-time, online web design bootcamp looks great. It’s by far the least expensive in our top 5, has a job guarantee and was created for web designers specifically.
Wow that’s a lot!
In the end, I hope this really helps you. I spent a lot of time researching and looking through all the different options out there.
At the end of the day, a part-time, online web design bootcamp will be like any other school. If you go to a University there will be good teachers and bad teachers or good courses and bad courses.
Everyone’s experience won’t be the same because that would be impossible. The best you can do is research and seek out people who have been through the courses before to make sure the bootcamp you choose is right for you.
There are more part-time, online web design bootcamps to choose from about 17 in all. I made a google sheet that outlines all of them, how much they cost, whether they have a tuition guarantee and some other info.
If you’d like to take a peak I’d love to give it to you. Fill out the form below and I’ll send it right to your inbox.
Okay, it’s your turn. Have you been to a web design bootcamp? What has your experience been?