Software developers typically bring in a solid six figures, with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BOL) reporting that their median annual income in 2019 was nearly $108,000. Similar earning potential exists for roles in related fields, like information security.
The payoff can be high, but so can the upfront investment, with entry-level roles in both software development and information security usually requiring four-year degrees, per the BOL.
Top undergraduate computer engineering programs like Carnegie Mellon University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the country by US News and World Report, charge almost $60,000 per year — or nearly $200,000 for the full four-year degree. And that’s just on tuition and fees.
If spending an extensive amount of time and money to launch a tech career doesn’t fit your budget or timeframe, there’s another option: income share agreement (ISA) bootcamps.
While there’s no set definition or criteria for what’s involved in bootcamps that offer income share agreements, they’re generally short (think: less than a year), non-accredited certificate programs geared toward launching careers in fields such as data science, cybersecurity, project and product management, and software engineering. The most important part: Students don’t have to pay for their tuition until they land a new job where they earn a minimum annual income, usually $40,000 a year or higher. And most of these tech bootcamps can be completed online, on either a full-time or part-time basis.
There are several caveats to this: Business Insider’s Rosalie Chan previously reported that ISAs, while an attractive model for Silicon Valley, aren’t regulated and enforced by federal laws, resulting in a legal gray area for all parties involved. Senator Elizabeth Warren and other congressional Democrats, meanwhile, have warned that ISAs could have the same pitfalls as student loans “with the added danger of deceptive rhetoric and marketing that obscure their true nature,” in a 2019 letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
Read more: 8 accelerated MBAs offered by top business schools that allow you to get a degree quicker than at a traditional program
Business Insider reached out to some of the most notable tech bootcamps that currently offer income share agreements to learn from the program leadership and alumni about their experiences.
How much you pay after graduation: 15% of your monthly income for a set number of months or until you reach the company’s payment cap, which is as low as $4,000