How Much Money Do You Need to Save to Switch Careers?

6 minutes

If you’re learning to code with the intention of switching careers or fields, it can be difficult to wrap your head around how long that will take and how much it’ll cost to learn the skills. (The answer for both is, it depends.)

The cool thing about all our courses and paths is that they’re self-paced, so you can ramp up or taper down how much time you’re spending each week learning how to code based on your goals. Many people start from zero, hit our career paths hard, and land coding jobs in less than a year. Other learners take years because they’re balancing learning to code with their already busy lives. And there are even folks who are learning to code because they want to stay at their companies and move up the ladder.

Everyone has different financial responsibilities and individual circumstances to consider, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. But there are some common concerns that typically come up for career switchers across the board: How much does it cost to learn to code? Do I need to quit my job to get serious about coding? Is it really possible to get a software job without a college degree? Ahead we’ll answer those questions and share strategies that helped learners just like you pull off a career change.

Learn something new for free

The cost of learning to code

Codecademy Pro is the plan we recommend if you want to develop skills to land a job, and it costs $239.88 a year. Keep in mind that most learners with Pro complete our paths in three to six months. Pro also comes with all the essentials needed to transform your career, like hands-on portfolio projects and access to hiring networks. Take a look at our plans to find the membership that meets your goals.

Traditional coding bootcamps, on the other hand, come with a sizeable financial and time commitment. In 2023, the typical coding bootcamp costs $10,825, according to recent reporting from Forbes. Some full-time, in-person bootcamps can cost as much as $21,000. To put that amount in perspective, compare that to the average cost of college tuition and fees per student per year in the U.S., which is $36,436. Another deciding factor? Bootcamp schedules. You’re typically expected to put your life on pause to attend long days of intensive training over several weeks. With our plans and courses, you get to determine the pace you learn at and the amount of time you devote to coding — whether you spend weeks or years working towards your goals is entirely up to you.

How Codecademy learners saved up to switch careers

Curious how other people made ends meet while they learned with Codecademy and prepared to switch careers? Here are a few strategies that worked for our learners.

Start with free courses

The best way to see if you like coding is to try it — and with our free courses, you can test the waters and learn something new without spending a cent. Byron Jenkins, a Senior Software Engineer at Capital One, started coding as a high schooler with our free courses in JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Byron loved the courses so much he was inspired to pursue software engineering as a career.  

With free courses like Learn JavaScript, Intro to ChatGPT, and Learn SQL you can try out a few different domains of programming and see what you like before choosing a career path to focus on. Or if you’re looking to learn the fundamentals of computer science like you would in a college program, you can take our Computer Science career path — it’s a beginner-friendly path that learners usually complete in 20 weeks.

Set aside a cushion

Many personal finance experts recommend that you have a several months’ worth of expenses saved if you’re planning to quit your job with no income lined up. Some say you should plan for six months, while others recommend having at least 12 months of liquid savings. Again, the exact number of months you should plan for depends how much downtime you plan to have between quitting your job and landing a new one.

Before Cristian Téran quit her job to pursue learning to code full time, she made sure she had enough money to cover about six months of expenses. She gave herself a year to find a job, and with careful planning, she was able to land a role as a Front-End Engineer in six months. “I wish that everyone could have the same opportunity as me, because I know not everyone can quit their jobs that easily to focus on studying,” she says.

Learn while you work

Whether you’re learning in the evenings after work or you have an unpredictable hourly job, there are ways you can start learning (and even job searching) while you’re already employed.

If you have a part-time gig, see how you can plan coding around your shifts. This strategy worked for Casper Tollefsen, a Web Developer who learned to code while he was a security guard. “If I had quiet shifts, where I could just sit and keep an eye on things, I’d bring a book and read up on game design and programming in general,” he says. (Of course, don’t let your learning get in the way of performing your current job. But if you have the flexibility, go for it.)

Another option is to set aside time before and after your shifts to dedicate to coding. Vic Ontiveros, a Software Designer living in Finland, dropped out of his college computer science program due to financial issues. He was able to find a part-time pizza delivery job to make ends meet and would “hop on and off Codecademy” in his free time, he says.

Consider freelancing

Start a side hustle offering your coding services, like building and designing websites for individuals or businesses. It might sound intimidating, but you probably have the skills you need to get a freelance web development business off the ground. (You can get started right away learning in-demand freelance coding skills and building websites with our Front-End Engineer career path.)

When De’Shaun Broadnax was in high school, he learned HTML/CSS and JavaScript with Codecademy so he could build websites. Then he started building websites for local businesses to earn some spending money. “I felt like it wasn’t super hard to make websites: I was putting some words on the screen and making them pretty colors for like $20,” he says. “As I did that, I started to learn more and grow more, and the passion kind of stuck with me. I got a little bit more serious in high school with coding.” Eventually, De’Shaun got hired as an Associate Software Engineer for a NASA contractor.

Ask about an education stipend  

Learning a new skill like coding is a strategic way to work towards a promotion or new role at your current job. If your company offers an education stipend, consider asking your employer to cover the cost of Codecademy. We recommend our Plus plan for people who want to learn or advance a skill. Not sure how to broach the subject? You can use this script to ask your company to pay for professional development.

If you’re contemplating a career change, invest in your future and sign up for a Codecademy Pro membership. Pro comes with everything you need to make your career shift a reality, including hands-on portfolio projects, personalized job listings tailored to your skills, and the opportunity to tap into extensive hiring networks. In our opinion, having the tools to select a career path you’re passionate about and structure your learning around your life (not the other way around) is a priceless perk.

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