Resources for Veterans Looking to Learn to Code

Veterans who leave the military and enter the civilian workforce do so with valuable skills such as proven leadership skills and the ability to operate in high-pressure situations. However, many veterans find that they do need additional education to round out their skill set as they transition out of the military and into civilian careers.

Computer programming or coding is a career path with strong job prospects and excellent earning potential. In addition, thanks to the availability of free online learning resources and short-term intensive coding bootcamps, it is a viable option for technically-inclined veterans with the proper motivation.

There are many different types of organizations that are dedicated to making coding education accessible to the nation's finest. So if you are a veteran who is looking to learn to code, these organizations and resources can help you make that dream a reality.

Organizations that Support Veterans Learning to Code

There are a few different organizations that exist purely to empower veterans who want to learn to code and transition into a career in the technology industry.

VetsinTech is one such organization. It works with veterans who have displayed an interest and aptitude in learning to code and helps connect them with educational and career resources through a network of local chapters. Currently, there are chapters in California, the pacific northwest, Texas, New York, Washington DC, and New England. Connect with one of these local chapters to find out more about the resources and opportunities VetsinTech affords to veterans.

The most successful organization in this category is Operation Code. Operation Code was founded in 2014 by retired US Army captain, David Molina. Initially, the organization was founded to work on getting the GI Bill requirements changed so that code bootcamps could be covered by the educational assistance afforded to veterans. However, over time Operation Code has transformed into a mentorship and collaboration hub that pairs veterans who aspire to learn how to code with experienced programmers who provide mentorship on a volunteer basis.

Code Bootcamps for Vets

Code bootcamps are full-time immersive educational programs that teach the basics of programming over the course of anywhere from two to six months. These programs provide a quick path into coding careers for students without a computer science degree. This makes coding bootcamps an ideal choice for technically-minded veterans with little or no formal education in computer science. There are at least two coding bootcamps specifically geared towards veterans.

Code Platoon is a code bootcamp for veterans based in Chicago. The program teaches a Ruby full stack over the course of 20 weeks. The first six weeks are completed online and the next 14 weeks are completed onsite in Chicago. Like any reputable code bootcamp, Code Platoon expects a serious, full-time commitment from their students.

Code Platoon is a non-profit organization and the program is largely funded by scholarship donors. As a result, the program costs dramatically less than comparable programs that are open to the general public. In addition, veterans who successfully complete the program are usually offered a three to six month paid internship with one of the program's corporate partners, giving students real-world, resume-building, hands-on experience in addition to a coding education.

Vets Who Code is another veterans-only coding education program. The organization's website indicates that it is a highly selective program and details are scarce. If you're interested in learning more, visit the organization's website and select the option to apply for the next session.

Code Schools that Accept the GI Bill

The GI Bill is one of the most valuable benefits afforded to veterans and it can be used to help fund a computer science education at a traditional college or university. However, due to the requirements that apply to the bill, it generally cannot be used to pay for unaccredited programs such as coding bootcamps.

However, there are a few bootcamps that have jumped through the hoops necessary to qualify for the GI Bill. The first bootcamp to be eligible to receive VA funding was Skill Distillery, who earned that approval in the summer of 2015. Since then, several additional schools have joined Skill Distillery in meeting the requirements necessary to qualify for GI Bill funding. That means that veterans who are eligible for GI Bill benefits can use those benefits to pay for part or all of the cost of attending one of these programs:

  • Code Fellows: a full-time web development program in Seattle, WA that teaches a JavaScript fullstack and Python programming.
  • Codeup: a four month, full-time JavaScript full stack web development bootcamp in San Antonio, TX.
  • Deep Dive Fullstack: a 10 week, full-time, PHP full stack coding bootcamp in Albaquerque, NM.
  • Galvanize: a six month, full-time JavaScript full stack web development bootcamp in Denver, CO.
  • Nashville Software School: a six month, full-time web developer bootcamp in Nashville, TN.
  • Sabio: a six month, full-time, full stack web development training program delivered in partnership with Antioch University in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Skill Distillery: a 16 week, full-time Java full stack coding bootcamp in Denver, CO.
  • Turing School of Software and Design: a seven month, back-end or front-end engineering program in Denver, CO.

Code Schools that Offer Partial Scholarships for Veterans

Not all veterans are eligible for GI Bill benefits. In addition, you may find that none of the bootcamps that do accept GI Bill benefits fit your unique needs. If you find yourself in this category and are still committed to attending a coding bootcamp, then you should consider this next set of coding bootcamps. While these organizations do not accept the GI Bill (yet), they do offer scholarships for veterans, which in some cases can reduce the cost of attendance considerably.

The scholarships offered by each coding bootcamp do change. While we've reported the scholarship amounts below, you will want to contact each bootcamp you are interested in attending to confirm the details surrounding the scholarships they offer to veterans.

  • Bloc: $500 scholarships awarded to two veterans each week.
  • Coding Dojo: the Military Retraining Scholarship awards up to $1,500 to veterans.
  • Dev Bootcamp: $1,500 scholarships are awarded to veterans.
  • Digital Crafts: the Military Personnel Scholarship awards between $500 and $2000 to veterans.
  • Fullstack Academy: a $1,000 scholarship is automatically awarded to all veterans.
  • Thinkful: all veterans receive a $100 discount off of part-time tuition or a $300 discount off fulltime tuition.

Resources for Learning to Code on Your Own

Every year Stack Overflow publishes a developer survey. In 2016, they found that 69% of survey respondents had self-taught at least some portion of their coding education. In addition, 13% of respondents reported that self-teaching was the only educational method they had employed. That means that self-teaching is a valid and important option for aspiring developers.

Recognizing the value and importance of self-teaching, we have put together a large library of programming resource guides that can help you find tutorials, books, and online courses you can use to teach yourself how to code. While attending a full-time coding bootcamp will almost certainly produce faster results, if a coding bootcamp isn't something you can work into your life, then you can get started down the road of teaching yourself to code by checking out some of our resource guides:

Conclusion

There's no doubt that coding is one of the most in-demand skills on the planet. Thankfully, learning to code is also a very viable option for veterans.

Organizations are working in a variety of different ways to make a coding education accessible to veterans. By partnering with these organizations and diving into self-teaching when necessary, veterans can successfully navigate the transition from military life to a career as a professional web developer or software engineer.


Further Reading and Resources

We have more guides, tutorials, and infographics related to coding and website development:

HTML for Beginners — Ultimate Guide

If you really want to learn HTML, we've created a book-length article, HTML for Beginners — Ultimate Guide And it really is the ultimate guide; it will take you from the very beginning to mastery.