By Bill Poovey
Published Dec. 4, 2013
After a startup year that graduated 20 software engineers, Greenville’s regionally unique Iron Yard Academy code school is ready to expand its footprint.
“We are getting ready to expand around the Southeast, start offering code school in Charleston and looking to Atlanta and Raleigh,” said Peter Barth, the web production school’s founder and executive director.
A timetable for expansion was not released.
The school provides a 12-week crash course in web and app development and guarantees to find graduates a job or refund tuition. It launched in Greenville in April.
Barth said there is big demand for the graduates’ skills and he doesn’t see any competing programs closer than New York, Chicago and San Francisco.
“We have looked at 10 cities,” Barth said. “I think we will grow a great deal over the next 10 years.”
The three-month code school in the Iron Yard Academy is already seeking applicants for a third class of 15 in Greenville on Jan. 14. Its website says those selected will learn to build production-quality web apps in HyperText Markup Language, Cascading Style Sheets and Java Script.
“I would say they are software engineers,” Iron Yard Managing Director Eric Dodds said of the graduates. “We teach them the latest, greatest skills that companies are hiring for right now. They are learning a skill set that is going to serve them the rest of their life. They are learning to think like engineers.”
Dodds, who earned a marketing degree at Clemson University and worked in that field before returning home to start up the school, said he sees the code instruction as “an answer to one of the ways that education is broken. You do not have to go to a four-year university and dump anywhere between $50,000 and $150,000 to become a software engineer. A lot of software engineers don’t even go to college.”
Dodds said the program is allowing graduates to earn salaries of $40,000 to $60,000, depending on where they go and what type of job they are doing.
“That is a starting salary. That is with zero real-world experience. The freelancers that graduate are charging, depending on their skill set, anywhere between $35 and $60 an hour as a freelance rate,” he said.
For the three months of instruction at the code school, students pay about $10,000 for tuition, a laptop, accommodations in an apartment and a bicycle to commute. If graduates don’t get a job offer they get a refund.
“You come to our class and we guarantee that you are going to get a certain result from the investment they make, from the money you spend and the time you put into it,” he said. “Of course we have to be extremely selective on the front end of that process because we do have a guarantee.”