Let me start by explaining a few things first…
You can separate any design field into two main components – the tangible skills and intangible skills.
The tangible skills encompass all of the design skills that can be measured. As far as Industrial Design, most of the tangible skills would be the ability to use software programs – Adobe CC suite, CAD program(s), Rendering programs (KeyShot), etc. In regards to UX/UI Design, this would be skills such as Sketch App, InVision, Axure, and so on.
The intangible skills are much harder to quantify. In the field of design, most of the intangible skills would be creativity, problem-solving, user empathy, curiosity, sketching, and so on…
The fundamental problem with these design bootcamps is that they mainly teach students tangible skills (aka…the computer software).
Now don’t get me wrong… I’m all for educating people on design. But… I’ve met a number of UX bootcamp graduates and they all lack fundamental design skills – especially when it comes to problem-solving and user research.
When taking a look at their portfolio, it’s evident they spent the majority of their time learning “Sketch” or another piece of design software. It also doesn’t help that all of their portfolios end up with the same problem and same solution.
Personally, I’m a fan of more affordable design education through online courses. The goal of online design courses should be to educate students on both tangible and intangible skills, with the idea that the student’s journey to becoming a “designer” is a long process of developing many different skills. No one course is going to make you a “designer.”
Cost of Tuition
The average UX/UI Design Bootcamp cost $9,000-$15,000.
As an example let’s take a closer look at General Assembly. Their website states that the cost of tuition for a 10-week class is $13,950 or $1,395 per week.
Most bootcamps mention students spend 8-12 hours a day working. It’s important to keep in mind that only a small portion of these hours will be you learning from an instructor.
A lot of your tuition money is going to overhead – the expensive rent they have, the desks the chairs, and all the other belongings you don’t get to keep.
More design bootcamps need to utilize technology to cut down on cost. Some of the training could be done virtually through online methods.
The Job Hunt
Your job prospects will likely come from your network. A design bootcamp may introduce you to a ton of new folks in the industry, some of which may lead to an interview.
With that said, consider the cost involved with the design bootcamp. Networking can be time intensive, but it is still something that you can do on your own. It’s never been easier to network thanks to LinkedIn, design related Meetup groups, and other tech-related events that didn’t exist in the past.
If you’re thinking about joining a design bootcamp solely to network, then think again. It’s likely not worth your time and money.
To have a really solid portfolio you will need to stand out from the crowd. One problem with design bootcamps remains to be the fact that all students end up with the same 2 or 3 design projects. Most projects are done in groups or teams of 3 or 4 students. Consequently, students also end up with the same solutions in their portfolio.
Based on experiences of design bootcamp graduates I personally know and other resources I’ve read online, it’s very unlikely you will find the time for side projects while going through the bootcamp.
Side projects (or many projects) for that matter are crucial in developing your design skills and will help you set yourself apart from other students should you partake in any academic design-related setting.
Many people involved in running design bootcamps will tell you that it’s absolutely worth it if you are willing to put in A LOT of work.
There are a few problems I see in this “mantra.”
First, if someone is willing to put in “A LOT” of work, they should (and can) learn the necessary skills in alternative and more affordable methods. Second, nothing will stress you out more than working 12 hour days for 10 weeks and then being set free to find a job with a lackadaisical portfolio.
Overall design bootcamps have good intentions and I applaud the fact that they are increasing the number of designers in the world.
With that said, I personally think in their current state they should utilize technology to make them more affordable and they should strive to teach more creativity, problem-solving, and user empathy.
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