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A review of Big Nerd Ranch as a tech bootcamp

Hi, I’m Elle! I work as a product designer at Getaround and as an industry mentor here at Pathrise. I help our fellows land great jobs in product design through technical workshops and 1-on-1s. Check out my review of Big Nerd Ranch.

What does Big Nerd Ranch do?

Big Nerd Ranch is a mobile tech bootcamp that helps people launch a career as mobile app developer, UI designer, or web developer. They offer full-time courses in Texas and Georgia. Their programs focus on mobile coding, training students to put their tech skills to work on android and iOS. In response to Covid-19, courses are now only virtual.

They offer 11 full-time 1-week bootcamps on iOS & Android development, UI design, Python, and mobile web development. The bootcamp is highly immersive and collaborative, with very few distractions. Big Nerd Ranch picks students up from the airport, provides their hotel room, offers on-site meals, and team building activities like nature hikes. Students participate in lectures, workshops, and hands-on coding projects. 

The 1-week web dev program meets from 9am to 5pm MST. Students craft responsive websites, build a Node.js backend, and ultimately create polished projects. The curriculum covers HTML5, CSS3, ES6, Node.js, and ReactJS. There is no placement test, but students must have a basic understanding of object-oriented or functional programming.

Big Nerd Ranch has 8 android and iOS courses. Their advanced Android and iOS programs meet Monday-Friday from 9am to 5pm MST for 1 week. Their UI essentials course meets only one day from 12pm to 4pm EST. This program teaches students the fundamentals of intuitive interfaces and app feature design. While there are no technical interviews or assessments, some programs like the iOS & Swift essentials require students to complete pre-work before starting the course.

While Big Nerd Ranch teaches students the skills they need to land a job, they do not offer career services or help with the job search.

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Who is Big Nerd Ranch for?

People with little to no experience in web development, mobile development, or UI design that are looking to move into these careers could benefit from Big Nerd Ranch bootcamps. The program is especially helpful for people students seeking a quick, intense bootcamp and for those interested in an immersive learning experience with few distractions.

What does Big Nerd Ranch cost? How much work is involved?

The price of the program depends on the course and date. Tuition for the full-time online web development course is $2,450. The remote iOS & Swift essentials course costs $3,000. Students who enroll in the upcoming on-campus advanced iOS program pay $4,200. The online advanced Android course costs $2,450. The upcoming Android & Kotlin course costs $3,000 online and $5,2000 at the Grapevine, Texas campus.

Full payment is due upon registration. A 10% discount is available to educators and military veterans. Alumni also get 10% off when they return for another course.

Unlike many other bootcamps, Big Nerd Ranch has no formal technical or behavioral interviews for admission. However, many programs require past coding experience or pre-work before a course starts. But, there are beginner courses that lead well into the more advanced ones.

Ratings and reviews

Big Nerd Ranch has mostly positive reviews. They hold a 4.9/5 star rating on Switchup. In addition, they are rated 4.82/5 on Course Report. Big Nerd Ranch graduates praise the program for its immersive environment and dedicated instructors, but some have mixed feelings about their fast pace. In addition, many were disappointed that there was no job search support provided by the program.

A top review on Course Report appreciated the supportive staff and environment, raving that “instructors work hard to help you” and that the course “provides an atmosphere where you can really focus on the material.” However, the grad gave job support 1/5 stars as there were no formal career services. Another grad described their ranch campus as “beautiful and very comfortable” and benefited from the collaborative environment. Although the grad said she “was not disappointed at all” and rated the course 5 stars, she still warned “the pace was very fast.”

The program has 4.7/5 stars on Facebook. Students said they were impressed by the staff and the collaborative campus environment. One grad described the instructors as “dedicated and very good at what they do!” Another described the ranch campus as “innovative and exciting.” A student on Switchup valued the 1-on-1 support. They said, “the instructors made themselves available for “study hall” time” which was very helpful.

Big Nerd Ranch only has 3.95/5 stars on Career Karma. This is mostly due to their job assistance, which is rated 20/100. One student praised the immersive on-campus environment and felt his “instructor was great.” However, they had mixed feelings about the pace. In fact, they say that they “found the program to be a little fast.” Another student was disappointed by the job search and networking support, commenting “I was hoping for a greater after-bootcamp community.”

Alternatives to Big Nerd Ranch

If you decide not to enroll in Big Nerd Ranch, there are many alternative bootcamps and courses that can help aspiring web developers, UI designers, and mobile app developers. 

  • The full-time tech bootcamp Kenzie Academy offers both in-person and online courses in full-stack software engineering & UX design and front-end engineering. Learn more about Kenzie Academy in our review.
  • Aspiring web developers and software engineers can also look into CodeX Academy, a self-paced coding bootcamp with mentorship opportunities. Learn more about CodeX Academy in our review.
  • The popular Fullstack Academy bootcamp teaches part-time and full-time programs on software engineering and cybersecurity.
  • Another well-known bootcamp General Assembly offers full-time, part-time, and 1-day courses on topics like software engineering, data science, UX design, product management, and much more. Read more about General Assembly in our review.
  • For students interested in on-campus housing with an immersive environment, The Software Guild takes living and housing costs into consideration with their pricing. They offer online courses in web dev and software developments, as well as in-person bootcamps in Java and .Net/C#.
  • Flatiron School is a bootcamp that teaches courses on software engineering, UX design, and more. Students can choose part-time or full-time options, both on-campus or online.
  • Aspiring web developers and UI designers can also check out Bloc, which has courses in web development as well as web design.
  • Students interested in taking online self-guided or instructor-led product design courses can check out DesignerUp. Learn more about DesignerUp in our review.
  • Aspiring designers can consider Designlab. This online bootcamp that teaches the necessary skills to land a job as a UX designer. Read more about Designlab in our review.
More alternatives
  • Lambda School has 9-month courses in data science and full stack web development. Lambda School students can finance their education with an income share agreement (ISA) so they don’t pay until they land a tech job.
  • Similarly, the bootcamp Thinkful has tracks in software engineering, UX/UI design, and data science with ISA options.
  • The bootcamp BrainStation offers courses in web development, web design, data science, marketing, and product management. 
  • Students on a budget may also consider Udemy, which has affordable video courses on web development and mobile development.
  • For those interested in self-paced tech learning can also check out Springboard, an online educational resource that helps people launch a career in tech. If students don’t land a great job within 6 months of graduating, they get a full refund. Learn more about Springboard in our review.
  • Similarly, Codecademy teaches free courses on web development, data science, and dozens of programming languages. Big Nerd Ranch even recommends their courses to beginners. Codecademy has membership options ranging from $20 to $40 per month for greater course options and support.
  • People seeking low-cost tech training can also check out Udacity. Their introductory courses are free, but students can upgrade to a paid program for greater course options. Students get a 1-on-1 industry mentoring and a career coach to prepare them for the job search. Learn more about Udacity in our reviews.
  • Students can also check out edX, an online learning platform that hosts self-paced UX design courses from top universities like Harvard and MIT, and even major tech companies like Microsoft. Learn more about edX in our review.

How does Big Nerd Ranch compare to Pathrise?

Big Nerd Ranch is a bootcamp for people interested in learning the skills needed to start a career as a web developer, UI designer, or mobile app developer. While some courses require past experience or pre-work, most Big Nerd Ranch students start with little or no experience. Pathrise job-seekers should already have experience in their chosen field to get the most out of the technical curriculum.

While Big Nerd Ranch teaches tech skills needed to get a job, they do not help with the job search. Pathrise is a full service organization that assists with all phases of the job search. Mentors work with fellows on resume and portfolio optimization, cold emailing and reverse recruiting, technical and behavioral interviewing, and negotiation. The curriculum is tailored to meet each fellow’s specific needs.

Big Nerd Ranch is a crunched 1-week program that requires more than 40 hours of work. Our program is long-term and flexible, helping fellows until they land their dream job. We only require 4 hours of group sessions and 1-on-1 sessions that can be scheduled as needed. All sessions are live and recorded so fellows can review them at their own pace. 

Pathrise offers a 9% income share agreement so fellows only pay after they land a great tech job. We never require upfront payments or deposits. Fellows in our programs see their interview scores double, finding a job in only 3-5 months on average.

Pathrise is a career accelerator that helps people land their dream job in tech through 1-on-1 training and mentorship. If you are interested in working with one of our mentors to optimize your job search, join Pathrise.

Apply today.

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