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A review of Skill Distillery as a software engineering bootcamp

Hi, I’m Brian, a former senior software engineer and now industry mentor at Pathrise. I have helped hundreds of software engineers land their dream jobs in tech. Check out my review of Skill Distillery.

What does Skill Distillery do?

Skill Distillery is an online bootcamp for people looking to develop the skills needed to land a job as a software engineer. Their flagship course focuses on Java and front-end development. Skill Distillery has a campus in Denver, Colorado. However, currently, students can only participate online, due to COVID-19.

Before starting the bootcamp, students must complete 40-60 hours of online, self-paced pre-work. Students study the basics of Java programming, Object-Oriented Programming (OOP), Java libraries, and other fundamental software skills.

The 16-week program meets from Monday through Friday, with weekend homework and assignments. All students participate in lectures, group programming exercises, speaker events, and group review sessions. The majority of the course consists of hands-on programming, lab work, and coding projects.

The back-end curriculum covers Java, Object-Oriented Programming, Java libraries, JSP, Servlets, Spring, Spring MVC, SQL, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Angular, RESTful web services, and many more key software engineering skills. The course employs Agile methodology like standup exercises, pair programming, and story-driven modeling. Students also prepare for the Oracle Certified Associate Java Programmer exam. The program culminates in a final web app project, where students use their Java skills to build a polished web application from scratch.

Who is Skill Distillery for?

People who have no experience in coding and are looking to develop the necessary skills to land a job as a software engineer or web developer could benefit from the bootcamp. The program is especially helpful for people who are based in Denver, those who are willing to commit more than 40 hours a week to the bootcamp, and students who value a mostly hands-on, project-based curriculum.

What does Skill Distillery cost? How much work is involved?

Tuition is $19,950 for Skill Distillery’s flagship bootcamp. A $1,000 deposit is due 2 weeks before beginning the program.

Students can finance their tuition through Skills Fund. Interest rates and loan terms depend on an applicant’s previous credit history. A 50% scholarship is available based on circumstance and a personal essay. Skill Distillery also accepts the G.I. Bill.

The admissions process starts with an online application. Then, candidates participate in a behavioral interview. Next, they do a technical interview focusing on logical reasoning. No prior coding experience is necessary.

Ratings and reviews

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Reviews for Skill Distillery are generally positive. Skill Distillery holds a 4.9/5 star rating on Career Karma and has been included in CourseReport’s top 40 courses for over 3 years. Graduates praised the program for its intense curriculum and hands-on project learning but had mixed feelings about the time commitment and job placement. 

The top reviewer on CourseReport was very satisfied with the course, grateful that “I’m going into my job confident in the skills that I learned at Skill Distillery.” Another student praised the instructors and the new projects she added to her portfolio, remarking “Skill Distillery was worth every bit of money” and that the bootcamp “helps you through the learning struggle when coding.” However, she only rated the job placement 3 stars out of 5. A less satisfied student felt “the program started out very promising, with the first quad’s Java instruction being top notch” but warns “Job placement assistance was non-existent, and the program’s voluntary attrition rate looks to be extreme.”

A graduate on Quora was “very nervous about the job search” and struggled at first, but he soon landed a $75,000 job offer and eventually a job at Google only a few months after graduation.

On Career Karma, reviewers praised the pacing and dedicated instructors. One graduate praised the curriculum, but she had difficulty with the time commitment, explaining “There was a lot of homework and time required for labs.” Another student raved that “they prepare you for a real work environment” but was frustrated that “there is no job assistance as in other schools.”

Alternatives to Skill Distillery

If you decide not to enroll in Skill Distillery, there are a number of alternative bootcamps and online resources that can help aspiring software engineers.

  • The well-known Fullstack Academy bootcamp offers part-time and full-time programs for aspiring software engineers. Like Skill Distillery, Fullstack Academy is known for its intensive curriculum and hands-on approach to learning.
  • The bootcamps Lambda School, Thinkful, Launch Academy, and Pluralsight are also full-time and intensive like Skill Distillery, offering programs in software engineering and other topics.
  • Another well-known bootcamp, General Assembly, offers full-time, part-time, and 1-day courses on software engineering, data science, UX design, digital marketing, product management, and more. Read more about General Assembly in our review.
  • Similarly, Turing is an intensive software engineering bootcamp offering front-end and back-end development courses. Like Skill Distillery, Turing is based in Denver and requires over 40 hours of work a week.
  • Aspiring software engineers and web developers can also consider CodeX Academy, which is a self-paced coding bootcamp. Learn more about CodeX Academy in our review.
  • Actualize is a full-time bootcamp that can be taken in-person at their Chicago campus or live online so remote students can follow along with their in-person classmates. 
  • Another full-time tech bootcamp, Kenzie Academy offers in-person and online courses in software engineering & UX design and front-end engineering. Learn more about Kenzie Academy in our review.
  • Similarly, Prime Digital Academy has full-time and part-time courses in UX design and software engineering.
  • Those looking for more in-person or remote software engineering bootcamp can also check out App Academy, Zip Code Wilmington, Eleven Fifty Academy, Redwood Code Academy, and Flatiron School.
More alternatives
  • Galvanize offers both full-time and part-time courses for aspiring software engineers and data scientists. Students have the option to pay for the program with an income share agreement (ISA).
  • Similarly, Holberton School and Rithm School are both bootcamps with courses in software engineering that also offer ISA options. 
  • Another option is Grand Circus, which teaches courses on Java, front-end, and C# .NET. Their campuses are in Michigan, but they also offer online options.
  • Likewise, Tech Elevator and Epicodus are software engineering bootcamps with online and on-campus options.
  • Udacity is another online learning resource with courses in software engineering, design, and data science, as well as other topics like product management. Learn more about Udacity in our review.
  • In the same vein, Codecademy is one of the most popular coding programs online. They provide free courses on many different programming languages. They also offer membership options ranging from $20 to $40 per month for more course options and greater support. Learn more about Codecademy in our review.
  • You can also check out Bubble no-code bootcamps to learn how to make products without coding. Learn more about Bubble in our review.
  • Similarly, Udemy, egghead, and Coursera are all low-cost learning platforms that offer thousands of online videos in a wide range of tech subjects.
  • Those interested in learning software engineering online can check out Springboard, an online learning platform offering thousands of courses on a variety of tech subjects. Learn more about Springboard in our review.
  • Finally, edX is one of the most popular online learning platforms. They have courses from top universities like Harvard and MIT as well as big tech companies like Microsoft. Learn more about edX in our review.

How does Skill Distillery compare to Pathrise?

Skill Distillery is a bootcamp teaching people the skills needed to become a software engineer from scratch. At Pathrise, job-seekers in our program should already have some background in their field of interest so that they can get the most out of our technical interview training. 

Skill Distillery requires more than 40 hours of work a week, equivalent to a full-time job and then some. Our flexible program is tailored to each fellow, with only 4 hours of group sessions per week and 1-on-1s that can be scheduled as needed. All of our sessions are live and recorded, so fellows can review old material and learn at their own pace. 

As a full-service organization, Pathrise helps software engineers land the best job possible. Our mentors have experience on both sides of the hiring table and work with fellows on each step of their job search, including resume and LinkedIn optimization, portfolio building, behavioral interview preparation, salary negotiation, and much more. 

Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals to land a great job in tech. If you’re interested in working with our mentors to optimize your job search, join Pathrise. 

Apply today.

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Brian Wong

Brian Wong is an experienced senior software engineer and has worked at top bay area startups and organizations. In his free time, Brian works with Pathrise SWE fellows to help them land their dream job and learn insider tips on how to ace technical interviews.

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