ISA or Loan for bootcamp?

Hi all,
I have decided to join a UX/UI bootcamp shortly after graduation, but am a bit stumped given my financial situation.

It is not likely that I’ll be able to afford to pay upfront, so I am stuck between taking out a loan or signing up for an ISA and am unsure which will be better to do. Assuming it changes anything, I currently have no debt at all and am pretty sure I will be able to graduate without it. I also live at home and don’t have too many financial worries (taking care of a family, etc.) In this case, the ISA looks more appealing as I can escape loans altogether, but I am not sure.

That being said, I am looking at mainly Designlab and Springboard, with DesignLab being my first choice for number of projects and original curriculum. However, they do not offer an ISA as far as I know, and I am worried to take out a loan for a program I’m not sure I would 100% even get in to (since I would need to take foundations beforehand and they have to pass your portfolio.)

Springboard on the other hand offers an ISA option, but the only other advantage I see over DL is the client project. I am afraid that Springboard is not worth it since their curriculum can be found on the internet apparently.

I am also aware both programs have refund policies but I think this only applies for if you pay upfront.

Could someone please advise me on what would be a better financial decision?

Is it better to take out a loan for what seems to be a more solid program in the end? Or try to avoid paying anything until I hopefully land a job because in the end these bootcamps are not that different from each other anyway?

Replies much appreciated!

I highly recommend you don’t spend money learning UX/UI when everything you need is free and accessible to you.

I would start learning about UX/UI on the following sites:

Then, look for entry level UX Design jobs. For example, our company brings in first time aspiring UX people and trains them to become experts in their craft. Yes, there are places that do that. There is nothing better than being paid AND learning.


I couldn’t agree more with Kristy. If I were you I would go the self-learning route & then once you have a job, you can always get your employer to pay for any UX course to train you further, NNg courses are best for this.

Long answer:

I am about to finish my UX diploma, an online course, that has cost me about $3,800 (£2,800). All I have gained is a good overview of the UX design process. You can gain that by reading a couple of UX books (“About Face” and “Don’t make me Think” cover it pretty well), and build your skills and portfolio of work by doing free online UX challenges and charity UX related work. The mentoring part of the course is what I was keen to pay for, but they over-promised, as it turned out to be ten minutes of feedback a couple of times during the entire 6 months course. Not really worth the money I paid at all.

I am not saying these are bad courses. Mine is accredited by Caledonian University in the UK. It is a good course, but all the supplied material is already available free on the internet, books, and even video content. If you can afford it - as i did - go for it, if you strongly feel you won’t commit to your learning otherwise (my case).

But as long as you are aware that paying for a course does not save anybody from the hassle of self-learning, as these courses are just an introduction. I studied Product Design degree at University, years ago. Before I got my ever first full-time design job I had to practice on my own a lot the design tools I learnt at uni, outside of uni. So, you will still need to self-learn a lot after a short UX course. If you have to get a loan - do not do it! You don’t need that extra pressure on top of having to learn a new set of skills.

Self-learning is a very powerful tool for designer. You will learn precious - not design- skills along the way, like managing your own time, structuring your learning is like managing a project, you will have to prioritise goals and establish a base line to monitor and adjust your learning methods. Just as in any real work project. Set yourself some doable deadlines and you can learn most topics. Also, as you probably know, UX has a huge free community and resources online. You can use the course syllabus you like the most as a guide to get you started.

Free resources online:

There are many more to list! Pick some and get started :slight_smile:

Best of luck & enjoy!

Thirded what our other posters have said.

There is zero reason to get a UX bootcamp certificate. They mean nothing to employers - and can actually hurt your chances in some situations, as bootcamps have begun to have a negative stigma attached to them due to some particularly shady folks who run sub-par organizations designed to extract every last penny from their students while providing little of any value in return.

My advice:

  • Work through all the courses at the Interaction Design Foundation (Learn UX Design | Online User Experience Courses). You’ll get virtually the same knowledge at a fraction of the cost.
  • Volunteer with local nonprofits that you’re passionate about and who need help to build up your portfolio.
  • Network within the design community online to build your presence and professional connections.
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