Bloc’s Guarantee: Get a Job as a Programmer or Your Money Back
Code bootcamps advertise themselves as a fast way to learn the skills you need for a high-paying career as a computer programmer. The problem is these crash courses are usually expensive, and as a student it’s hard to know which, if any, are actually worth the money. Now a company Called Bloc is trying to woo students with a familiar tactic from the world of vocational education: a money-back guarantee.
Today, three-year-old Bloc announced a new 48 week online-only code education program that costs a whopping $24,000. That’s a lot, even by code bootcamp standards. But the company promises that if you don’t find a job that pays at least $60,000 a year within four months of completing the program1, it will refund your money. The fine print: you must be eligible to work in the US and you have to live, or be willing to relocate to, one of the top 20 largest metropolitan areas in the country.
Bloc has tons of competition. The online Viking Code School charges no fee up front. Instead, you promise 18 percent of your salary for a year once you find a programming job. The in-person code camp App Academy, which has schools in New York and San Francisco, follows a similar model. Code Fellows, which has in-person programs in Chicago, Seattle, and Portland, offers a refund if students can’t find work. There are also cheaper online options, such as Treehouse and Code School, as well as free courses from Codecademy and Free Code Camp.
While most code bootcamps run between eight and 12 weeks long, Bloc’s new program is 48 weeks if you take it full-time, or 72 weeks part-time. Bloc founder Roshan Choxi says the company worked with engineers at companies including Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon to build a curriculum tuned to the needs of employers. “We found that there was still a gap between what employers want and what you learn at a bootcamp. And the reason is that there’s only so much you can learn in 12 weeks,” he says.
The idea of the longer course is to provide students with a deeper background in computer science, something closer to what students would learn in a computer science program at a four-year school. Also, as part of the program, students will either do a paid internship or a volunteer “apprenticeship” on an open source project to gain real-world programming experience. As with Bloc’s other programs, the company pairs each of its students with a professional programmer who mentors them through the entire program.
Potential students will need to pay $5,0002 for the course up front and will make monthly payments of the remaining money over 36 months. Choxi says the new course won’t assume any existing knowledge of programming—pretty bold when a money-back guarantee is on the line.
12Correction 11/12/2015 at 6:35 PM ET: An earlier version of this story stated that Bloc would reimburse tuition if students didn’t have an offer of full time work after three months. It’s actually four months. Also, the upfront fee is $3,000, not $5,000.