Alternatives to Bootcamps

The root of the problem

You’ve seen the ads on Twitter. Become a Web Developer Online in 12 Weeks. Learn Product Management Online in 18 Weeks. Become a UX/UI Designer Online in 24 Weeks. They’re all tweeted from University-branded accounts that don’t have any other tweets. Most or all of them have replies turned off.

Georgia Tech Professional Education. Become a Web Developer Online in 24 Weeks. Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp

jQuery? In 2022?

Not only are these boot camps overcharging for content available elsewhere, they’re also teaching old tech.

Become a Web Developer Online in 12 Weeks. Learn skills such as JavaSCript, HTML5, CSS, jQuery, and Bootstrap. 1:1 Career Services Support. Accelerated training. UCF.
Gautam Tata's article on Medium. Feb 13, 2019. Headline: jQuery Deprecated? It's official. Bootstrap 5 has removed jQuery as a dependency and instead has been replaced with vanilla javascript. The bootstrap team opened a pull request with the aim to remove jQuery entirely.

If you want to see more of them, open the thread below. I just kept quote tweeting them anytime they advertised to show up in my feed.

Why Am I Doing This?

I looked into those cookie-cutter boot camps and they’re charging prices in the range of $1000 per week. I’ve read reports that former students were given slideshows that referred them to the free reference content on websites like W3schools. That’s pretty freaking ridiculous. I was livid.

With so many better alternatives out there, I went off. I put together a list of the best free and reasonably priced resources that I know about.

You want to learn to code?


freeCodeCamp started out as a curriculum to learn full-stack javascript. Over the past few years they’ve branched out into data analysis and machine learning with python as well. Definitely check them out! They have a very complete curriculum that puts the boot camps mentioned above to shame.

Scrimba ($)

Scrimba is all front-end code but the big draw is that the video tutorials are synced up to the lab environment. You can branch off from the code the instructor has on the screen from any point in the video. It’s a really cool way to learn and I’ve never seen any other platform go that far.

Pluralsight ($)

Pluralsight is a very large library of courses related to coding and IT. Check out Pluralsight’s free courses.
Also, until the end of 2022, Pluralsight says they’re offering free cloud courses from their platform and from A Cloud Guru, a company they bought. Cloud cert offer

Microsoft Learn

Microsoft Learn is huge and free. For your programming journey, check out the .NET Developer learning paths, particularly Take your first steps with C#. Don’t be afraid to branch out if something else catches your interest though. Microsoft Learn is like a giant book store to walk through and stumble upon exciting new things.

w3 schools

w3 schools is referenced endlessly by programmers old and new for looking up syntax and options for HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and SQL. In recent years they’ve integrated excellent tutorials as well so be sure to check them out.

Hey Node’s Node Certification table of content organizes a series of free and cheap (optional e-books) resources for learning Node.js backend javascript framework. It covers exactly what OpenJS node certification tests ask for so it’s a great way to ensure you have the baseline skills employers are looking for, whether you take the exams or not.

Odin Project

Like the sound of freeCodeCamp but someone convinced you that Ruby on Rails is where you want to be? Try Odin Project to get started with Ruby and Rails.

You want to learn cloud?

Cloud Resume Challenge

A lot of paths lead into working with cloud tech. For someone looking for a way to learn skills and get hired ASAP, the Cloud Resume Challenge is the best I can recommend. You could even complete it for all 3 major cloud providers. Everything after this is just gravy to pad your skill set and experience.

Linux Foundation

Linux Foundation free courses and learning paths.
Intro to Linux
Introduction to Cloud Infrastructure Technologies
Introduction to DevOps and Site Reliability Engineering
Introduction to Kubernetes

KodeKloud Engineer

Tutorials and exercises are nice, but sometimes you want the challenge of being assigned a task that you may or may not know how to solve yet, like in a real job. KodeKloud Engineer gives you that. It’s intended to be a supplement to KodeKloud’s paid training but anyone is free to sign up.

TechWorld with Nana

If videos are more your thing, Nana’s great at all things cloud. Anytime I need to look up what something is or how to work with it, odds are there’s already a TechWorld with Nana video in the search results.

KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2021

Want to have your mind blown and watch a whole cloud conference?
KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2021

O’Reilly Katakoda

Check out O’Reilly Katakoda interactive labs. They offer a chance to learn and practice even more cloud-native technologies.

Docker Tutorial

This is THE tutorial for containerization. Take the Docker Tutorial from Docker themselves.

AWS training from Amazon

Ready for something vendor-specific? AWS is the obvious place to start for cloud. They show up in more cloud job listings than anybody else. AWS free training

GCP training from Google

Google Cloud Platform is another great option. Get started with GCP free training.

Azure training from Microsoft

Azure free training in Microsoft Learn


You’ve spent a lot of time learning how to build cloud native systems. How do you see what they’re doing though? Honeycomb is an excellent resource for all things observability. Want to see something really cool? Check out Bubble Up. Honeycomb


Another tool that looks great on your resume is Splunk Cloud. Splunk

New Relic

New Relic is another option. Broaden your horizons. New Relic


No listing of popular cloud monitoring tools would be complete without a mention of Datadog. If you haven’t met their sales force yet, you soon will. Datadog


Hashicorp makes very popular cloud native tech that you’ll hear about all over: Packer, Vagrant, Consul, Terraform, Vault. Follow their certification paths and make yourself familiar with the how and the why. Hashicorp Cloud Engineer Certifications

Tutorials and docs are great but I want a school

Western Governors University ($)

Picture a non-profit online university that’s not a diploma mill but instead matches curriculum to what the industry wants most. That’s WGU. For less than the cost of the boot camps we were dragging at the beginning of this post, you can attend WGU for a year or more and complete several tech-related certifications. Check out WGU’s IT degrees that earn certifications. Tuition is less than $4000 per 6 month semester and you can complete courses as fast as you can learn the material. There’s no waiting for the next semester to start to begin a class.


While WGU is real college, edX is closer to auditing college courses for no credit. There are options on some courses to get certificates of completion. Some even lead into applying for a degree program. On their own however, edX courses are generally just for your own learning.

Moving past that, edX courses can be a great way to tap into college-level courseware for free. Harvard’s computer science intro class is a great example.

Try some of these:

HarvardX’s CS50’s Introduction to Computer Science which can branch into Web, AI, Games, or general python.

IBM z/OS Mainframe Practitioner

Georgia Tech Introduction to Python Programming

IBM Data Science

University of Maryland Product Management

Just beware the section where they try to pull you back into the “bootcamp that’s supposedly associated with a college… but you don’t get credits or a degree” zone. You want to stay freely auditing courses, unless you want to verify some of the courses for the quizzes and exams to test your knowledge.

Wrapping it up

Everyone’s career and journey into tech is unique. Your progression is more likely to look like a fly buzzing around a room than the series of ladders people picture. Mine has been all over the place. Most folks experience a number of big changes. That’s normal. Just stay persistent.

Sometimes you’ll branch out too much and need to focus again on a single subject to really develop it. Other times you’ll find an area that you need to branch into to cover a weak spot. It’s normal. Keep at it.