Code school licensing: Why it matters

The Iron Yard is a licensed code school. We are held to the highest standards as a post-secondary educational institution in each state where we operate. Being a licensed code school matters – here’s why.

What does licensing mean?
When you’re ready to buy a car, you’re likely to review crash test ratings as you research the safety features different models offer. You may use those ratings as a deciding factor in choosing one car over another. Those ratings are set by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which is dedicated to providing research, standards and enforcement activity for vehicle safety.

Similar governmental bodies provide standards and enforcement for code schools to keep students safe and ensure educational quality.

Is licensing the same as accreditation?
Code schools are not degree-bearing educational institutions that accept federal student loans as payment. If we were, we’d be considered “accredited” and bucketed with traditional four-year universities. That’s not a bad thing at all. In fact, it’s what allows code schools to be agile in updating their curricula to keep pace with the intense speed of technological progress in the world of software development.

With that in mind, let’s dig a little deeper into licensing, what it means and why it’s important for our students.

What does being a licensed code school mean for The Iron Yard?
The Iron Yard is a licensed post-secondary educational institution. That means we are licensed as a code school by a specific regulatory agency/body in each state where we operate. The name of/type of agency varies from state to state, but could include the state’s Department of Education, Department of Higher Education, Department of Commerce, Department of Consumer Protection, or Workforce Commission. These licensing bodies are made up of a combination of education experts and public officials who make sure we follow the letter of the law and are compliant with educational standards and student protections.

We are licensed in every state where we operate. The process can often take months, and it’s tedious and expensive. Why do we make the choice to go through the process and get licensed? First of all, it’s illegal to operate as a school without being licensed. More importantly for us, though, it’s because we care about our students. We want to offer them the highest-possible quality education, hold ourselves to the highest standards we can, and ultimately, we want to take it upon ourselves to be the leader in this industry. Not only is licensing something that we’re legally bound to do, but it’s also consistent with our mission of delivering high-quality education and it’s part of our commitment to helping students begin careers as software developers.

How does this impact you as a student, and why should you care?
If you think you might want to attend a code school, you likely have tons of questions as you compare schools – everything from the type and length of courses each school offers to who is teaching the classes. You want to make sure you’re going to get the best quality education you can. That’s why it’s important to research whether the schools you are considering are licensed. You’re planning to invest time and financial resources on your education, and you’ll want to make sure it’s a good investment. You want to know whether you can trust the institution you’re going to choose. Knowing whether a school is licensed is the best first step you can take.

Ok, so I know licensing is important. What does the licensing process entail?
If we haven’t said it enough, we’ll say it one more time: the protection licensing offers you as the student is just one reason to make sure it’s on your list of “must haves” when deciding which code school to attend. The process to get licensed in each state is pretty lengthy and involved. But it’s worth it. We want to give you a quick snapshot of what that process looks like.

First, licensed code schools must be registered as a legitimate business with the state. We must have space that is fit for learning (which is why regulators will conduct site visits) and we have to submit financial statements to show that we’re financially sound as a business. And, we have to be bonded. All states require some form of bond so students aren’t left high and dry if a code school shuts down suddenly.

Second, we have to prove we’re a legitimate educational institution by providing things like our curriculum (what students will learn each week and how many hours they will spend in the classroom) and a list of our instructors (including qualifications, experience and academic background). We produce a catalog that includes both, along with information about how students apply, our tuition, how students are evaluated, career support, our code of conduct and more. We then submit an enrollment agreement, which acts as a contract with our students (in tandem with the catalog).

Third, regulators check for completeness and accuracy on what we submitted before the commission or board of the state regulatory body performs a final review. Commissioners or board members ask us questions about curriculum, finances, etc. in a public meeting. That’s when the decision to approve or deny licensure is made.

Lastly, there is annual review process for licensed code schools. This includes both reporting of of student statistics, bond renewals, and site visits to audit student records and make sure the code school is doing what it said it was going to do.

As you can see, the regulatory process is thorough and grueling. But we know that this level of scrutiny and discipline benefits our students. We also know that licensing is the only way to ensure a level playing field and to grow our industry. We gladly accept the responsibility and challenge of shaping the best practices for the industry.

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