We hear all the time about the need for tech talent all over the country and here in Charleston as the local tech sector blossoms. Right now, website developers with coding skills and no experience can walk into $60,000 entry-level positions with dozens of area tech companies.
ECPI University, a private, for-profit institution based in Virginia Beach with a campus on Ashley Phosphate Blvd. in North Charleston, is capitalizing on the need with a 16-week coding course designed to transition graduates directly into local jobs. Representatives of two dozen area tech firms served in an advisory capacity for the course and have indicated an interest in hiring graduates.
Called Level Up Coding Class, the first session begins April 20 and signups will be accepted until the week prior, says Kaity Miller, director of Continuing Education at ECPI. A high school diploma or GED is the sole academic requirement.
Basic coding courses often run just 12 weeks; Level Up offers a deeper dive, hands-on experience and more soft-skill development. ECPI will offer two courses, one focused on back-end development that makes websites function, the other on front end development that creates the user interface.
An Upfront Investment That Pays Off
The four-month courses cost $12,000 each, but the tech community is hungry to gobble up graduates. Kourtney McIntire, Human Resources and Recruiting Specialist at SpinSys, a cloud-based application development and migration firm for government agencies, says her company of 125 employees has 15 vacancies, many of them for developers. She is ready to hire multiple graduates the minute they complete their course. “Candidates with a tech background will get a foot in the door even without experience. I was always told to come back when I have a year or two of experience, but that is not the case in the tech field,” she said.
Indeed, ECPI holds a reverse job fair, where students display their final projects at tables and potential employers make the rounds seeking out applicants. ECPI offers students robust soft skill support as part of the curriculum, including instruction on writing résumés and cover letters, practice with mock job interviews and introductions to prospective employers. “Career support is lifelong,” notes Miller.
Entry-level coders can earn $55,000-$60,000 and rise to six figures in five years, says Miller. That has drawn a variety of students, from mid-career college grads to those who are opportunity-driven and view the course as a replacement for a higher education degree.
Miller says the courses are a beginning, not an endpoint. Learning these coding languages provides students with the basic knowledge to quickly learn other languages and skills that might be useful in a tech environment.
Companies affiliated with LevelUp include large employers like Blackbaud and Benefitfocus, and a host of smaller outfits like Blue Acorn, a digital commerce agency; website designers Blue Ion; cybersecurity firm PhishLabs; and Teamphoria, an employee engagement software company.
The Lowcountry Graduate Center keeps its “ear to the ground” for all means of promoting a variety of career paths in support of the region’s workforce by fulfilling talent requirements. The ECPI’s basic coding course may serve as an initial stepping stone for individuals towards eventual graduate studies at the LGC and thus still further advancement in one of these many high tech, locally headquartered organizations. Your future awaits you!