The Chicago tech scene is one of the most bustling and growing industries in the world. With new jobs becoming available daily and new startups popping up everywhere, the demand for trained professionals is higher than ever before.
If you’re ready to break into tech and begin your new career, you may be wondering where to start. There are a multitude of job training programs out there for people with all types of skill levels and schedules. Deciding which one is right for you is no easy task. We’ve got the breakdown of the best job training programs in Chicago ranging from coding bootcamps to public programs and everything in between.
Chicago’s Tech Scene
Before we dive into the best job training programs in Chicago, let’s take a step back and get a sense of the Chicago tech scene as a whole.
One of the biggest boosts to Chicago’s economic stability took place all the way back in 1882 with the opening of the Chicago Stock Exchange. With this opening, came a wave of financial investment bankers, loan companies, and much more. Almost every major bank in the United States has an office in Chicago. With the age of technology and innovation came a new way of doing finance.
If you happen to have a bank account, chances are you’ve checked your balance online or on your phone before. If you’re into stocks, you even have the ability to make live trades in seconds, all with a couple of swipes on your phone. This innovation didn’t happen overnight but it did happen in part due to the sweeping movement of Chicago’s technology and financial sectors. This merging of industries has given way to a new time of technology; Fintech.
As the name might suggest, Fintech is the merging of both the financial and technology industries. This means that technological advancements are made to support and build upon the financial industry. This work ends up benefiting both industries as tech continues to innovate and finance continues to automate, secure, and boost their systems. And Fintech is continuing to get bigger. Last year alone Fintech companies raised almost $40 billion from global investors. This number was up 120% from 2017.
There are currently over 400 companies in Chicago that could be classified as “Fintech”. From major companies such as Discover and Venmo to smaller startups, there are a multitude of Fintech companies in the Chicago area that are changing the way the tech scene operates.
Skills to focus on
If you’re determined to get a job in tech and you’re ready to begin your own technical education journey, one of the best things you can do is educate yourself now. Many people end up wasting time studying things that prove to be not useful because they jump into tech without an idea of what they might want to do.
While you don’t have to have the next 10 years of your career planned out, taking a bit of time now to research, can save you a ton of time and money later on. Take a look at some of the top skills in the tech industry and see how they might affect your tech education.
Coding Languages are diverse and plentiful. They span a variety of subjects and each one exists to do many different things. Some programming languages are classified as either front end or backend or even somewhere in between.
Whichever coding language(s) you know, they could actually end up determining where you work when you go on to look for a job in tech. In fact, some companies are almost exclusively dedicated to a handful of programming languages.
- Google: Java, C++, and Python
- Apple: Objective-C and Swift
- Microsoft: C#
Keep in mind these are just three of the numerous tech companies in the world and that these favorite programming languages are subject to change. Coding languages don’t only dictate who you work for, they sometimes also dictate the kind of work you do. For example…
- All IOS Mobile Apps run on Objective C.
- All Android Mobile Apps run on Java.
- Games are usually built in C++.
- PHP, Ruby, and Python can be used to create a variety of Web Applications.
The most in-demand programming languages of 2019 are as follows:
Keep in mind these are only the top five most popular coding languages of 2019. These coding languages vary greatly depending on your desired sector of tech or your dream company. What’s in demand in one place, may not be used in another.
The ways in which coding languages can be used are endless. The point is that the kind of coding language you know could ultimately determine what type of work you do. Familiarizing yourself with the tech Industry’s most popular and in-demand coding languages will save you a ton of hassle in the long run. It’s always important to keep your technical skills up to date with the changing times.
Best Job Training Programs in Chicago
There are a wide variety of job training programs in the Chicago area. From coding bootcamps to publically funded programs, there is an abundance of learning opportunities for everyone. To better sort through all this information, let’s break this down into different categories.
Best Chicago Coding Bootcamps
Chicago is home to a variety of coding bootcamps. From the suburbs to downtown, coding bootcamps help to educate a major portion of the Chicago tech scene’s workers. Here’s a breakdown of the top five coding bootcamps in the area.
1. Flatiron School
Located in Central Chicago, Flatiron School’s River North Campus is home to both Flatiron School and its Designation program. Flatiron School recognizes that Chicago could be the next Silicon Valley. They’ve positioned themselves in the heart of Chicago’s tech scene in order to bring students the most opportunities possible. Flatiron School Chicago offers three different full-time courses.These programs range in total cost from $15,000- $15,800. Flatiron School boasts a 97% employment rate for on-campus graduates which includes a median starting salary of $74,000 per year. Ready to team up with Flatiron School to change the tech scene and call the Windy City of Chicago home?
2. General Assembly
General Assembly is one of the most prominent in-person bootcamps in the Chicago area. Located only a few blocks from Lake Michigan, imagine being able to take walks down the Boardwalk and see amazing sites while on your lunch break! General Assembly offers a variety of full-time courses both online and in person. These courses range from about $14,000 to $16,000. More than 40,000 coders have graduated from General Assembly’s programs. General Assembly has over 10,000 hiring partners with companies across the globe.
3. Code Platoon
Code Platoon is a unique coding bootcamp unlike any other we’ve seen before. Based in downtown Chicago, Code Platoon is a coding bootcamp that is exclusive to the military, veterans, and military spouses and their families. Regular tuition for the Chicago campus program is $15,500. The median scholarship amount that attendees of Code Platoon usually earn is $12,500. Thus, the total out of pocket cost for most Code Platoon attendees is only $3,000. Code Platoon offers a course in Web Development which covers all of the skills of Full Stack development. Upon graduation from the program, all students are eligible for a 3 to 6-month programming internship with Code Platoon’s corporate sponsors.
4. Grace Hopper Program
The Grace Hopper Program is an all-women, 17 week, coding bootcamp that covers a full-time software engineering curriculum. The program costs $19,910 and a variety of scholarships and financing options are available. The program boasts an 85% employment rate within 180 days of graduation.
5. Evolve Security Academy
Evolve Security Academy is one of the top cybersecurity firms in the world. Their goal is to ensure the cybersecurity of every website, application, and person within our technological universe. In addition to live seminars at their physical location, they offer online cohorts that cover the same material. Evolve is passionate about helping students fund their education through scholarships. Scholarships are available based on a variety of personal factors. Students are expected to spend at least 20 hours per week on their Evolve Academy studies. You’ll gain real-world experience as you work with non-profit organizations to assess their online security presence. You’ll focus on soft skills in addition to your technical skills as you focus on building teamwork and time management skills. Evolve has partnerships with many different Fortune 500 companies as well as other big and small companies across the globe.
Public Education Programs
In addition to coding bootcamps, there are a variety of educational initiatives in the Windy City that prospective students can take advantage of.
Workforce Investment Act of Illinois
This grant is specifically set up by the United States Government to offer educational funding for those who have low income, are untrained in a skill or trade, have recently lost a job or are in a vulnerable industry, and those who are disabled and looking for work.
Illinois Pathways Program
This workforce education program specifically caters to industries with science, technology, engineering, and math-oriented jobs. The Illinois Pathways program partners with both public and private educational programs to offer a reduction in tuition costs for prospective students.
How Does This Benefit You?
I’ll be honest, that was a lot of information. If you’re new to coding or are just considering switching careers to the tech industry, you may be wondering what this all means for you. It’s important to remember that these are just a few of the many educational options out there when it comes to learning to code.
It’s important to stay up to date on the ever-changing ways of the coding industry and always remember your end goal throughout your coding education journey.
As you continue to grow throughout your coding journey, keeping yourself informed of the industry’s latest happenings will be absolutely vital to your career success.