Coding boot camps are springing up everywhere — and for a good reason. Developed as a response to the slow and expensive process of attending a four-year college degree to become a web developer, coding boot camps can get the job done faster and for less money.

Nevertheless, coding boot camps represent a significant commitment to anyone that signs up. They require a considerable amount of time to complete assignments, and you still have to pay course fees. That being said, there are ways to mitigate the risks associated with taking on something completely new.

1. Try A Free Online Class First

To begin testing the waters to see if you might enjoy coding long-term, try a free or relatively inexpensive online course first. Services like Coursera or edX let you take basic courses online, and are a great way to gauge interest in coding and see if you enjoy the experience.

Coding isn’t for everyone, so it’s a great way to test the waters. You can see if you like building things from scratch and troubleshooting when you come across bugs.

Many people don’t even finish an online course, which is an excellent opportunity to stop and ask yourself, “why.” If you find yourself in this position, determine if it’s because you couldn’t understand the concepts, found the process tedious, or if something more compelling got in the way.

It’s undoubtedly okay if any of those are the case. It most likely means that coding, at least right now, isn’t a good fit for you. By taking a free online course, however, you’ve risked nothing by giving it a try.

However, if you did stay on track, and complete the program, take time to evaluate your experience. Did you like the process of coding and want to do more? Did you enjoy learning new things but perhaps found it difficult to stay motivated and on track? If so, then coding could be a great fit, and likely you’ll need a more structured approach to keep learning and reach more concrete goals.

2. Register For An Introductory Web Development Boot camps

Staying with the theme of taking a risk-free approach to testing the coding waters — you may want to first dip your toes in the water with a web development fundamentals Boot camp offered by a community coding boot camp provider. There are several reasons to give this approach a try.

To begin with, they are relatively short, often no more than four weeks in total. This means you’ll only spend a month in a more formal course, giving you just enough time to see if you like the experience.

Another upside of this approach is that you’ll be able to see if a community coding boot camp hybrid online-offline model resonates with you. These boot camps follow a unique but practical approach to coding education. They generally have students learn web development concepts during the week via online training modules.

This allows students to fit their learning around work or other responsibilities. Students then meet offline each weekend for a weekly workshop session in their local community.

During these sessions, students meet with fellow peers and a dedicated instructor to complete more significant assignments. This approach will give you the flexibility to further test out coding while seeing if a more accountable, deadline-driven process can help keep you on task and move forward with skill development.

3. Seek Out Low-Risk Coding Boot camps

Although programming is often a lucrative and secure career path to follow, it’s essential to take additional steps to avoid common pitfalls students often encounter when learning to code. To begin with, do not quit your job! Relatedly, do not take out a loan to pay for your coding education.

There is zero need for either of these. Thanks to community coding boot camps that offer online classroom sessions as well as offline meetups, set at affordable prices in smaller cities and towns, there’s no longer a need to drop everything and spend all of our funds to attend a full-time Boot camp.

Also, get the fundamentals under your belt first before tackling more advanced boot camps like front end or full stack programs. Take advantage of free online classes first to see if you even like coding. At the same time, it’ll ground you in the basics so that you are better prepared for more robust, in-depth programs.

Last but certainly not least, make sure you fully understand the refund policy of any coding Boot camp you’re seriously considering.

You’ll want to know if there are any satisfaction guarantees available to students and if there are risk-free ways to exist an in-progress program if you find it’s not for you or if other developments pop up that prevent you from completing the course. This will give you a simple, easy way to bow out from coding if you find that it’s not the right fit.