In April, I took the plunge and enrolled in Flatiron School’s Online Web Developer Program. Until this year, I’d never gotten much further into any programming course than the “Hello World!” section. So what’s gotten me into a code bootcamp?

After a six-year military enlistment, I wanted a new career: one with high starting pay, high demand, and - ideally - no red tape (government work will do that to you).

I’d considered learning a skilled trade: something like plumbing or electrical work. They boast high pay, low barriers to entry, and - being tied to essential services - are in no danger of losing fashion. On the other hand, they’re also mired in red tape: licensing laws, unions, regional monopolies, monolithic regulatory agencies… It might be par for the course in today’s mixed economy, but I would avoid it if it was possible.

And through code bootcamp, it would be possible. For whatever reason, technology remains uniquely untouchable by state intervention; the phenomenon is even starting to bleed over into long-monopolized industries through the app-enabled “sharing (or gig) economy”. It’s encouraging to behold, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anything closer to a completely free industry. Sure, there’s always the FCC or the Net Neutrality crowd trying to throw their weight around, but every niche has its aspirant dictators. Think of it this way: has anyone ever heard of a “programmer’s license”? Not even children’s lemonade stands are treated so permissively!

There would be one downside: the “G.I. Bill” wouldn’t pay for code bootcamp like it would trade school. I would have to take out my first loan and stretch out my savings to afford studying full-time, but this was a risk I was willing to take in light of the other positives:

  • Entering a skilled trade could take years; entering software development could take months.

  • While any skilled trade would be alien to me, I’d been conceptually familiar with code for many years.

  • For almost as long as I’d been practicing 3D modeling, I’d also wanted to learn to code (both for game development and for contributing to open source software), but could never justify the additional time investment. To pursue it as a profession would be the perfect excuse to develop an ability I’d envied for years.

  • The growing prominence of remote work in software development would afford a degree of mobility otherwise difficult to achieve without fluency in multiple spoken languages.

About a month in, I’m enjoying the experience and haven’t looked back.