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If you are looking for a career path with plentiful future prospects, it doesn’t get much better than IT and development. With a job growth rate nearly three times the national average and great earning potential, investing in the training necessary to excel in this field is by all measures a wise career decision.
For many aspiring developers, that training consists of a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, with many CS majors going on to pursue advanced degrees. And while college may be the most traditional path to a job as a developer, it is no longer the only one.
The coding bootcamp model of education strives to provide an alternative path into the tech world. The premise is at once simple and innovative: an accelerated curriculum that emphasizes job-ready skills, and costs that are a fraction of university tuition. For many aspiring developers, the coding bootcamp model has diverse and understandable appeal. The flexibility and affordability of coding bootcamps has opened doors for non-traditional applicants, enrolling significantly higher numbers of women and people of color than university CS programs. .
But can a coding bootcamp education actually stack up to a degree in computer science? Which option is better?
The answer isn’t straightforward. Different life circumstances call for different choices. Here are some things you should consider when weighing whether to enroll in a university CS program or a coding bootcamp:
Most CS degree programs last eight full-time semesters. While this format is often great for students in their late teens and early twenties, it’s not feasible for everyone. After the 18-22 age group, it becomes increasingly difficult to devote this kind of time to education. The accelerated nature of a coding bootcamp may be the better fit for someone with considerable familial or financial obligations.
Having a degree from Stanford or MIT on your resume is an asset that will undoubtedly open many doors for you. But a degree from a non-selective party school or community college? Less so. Not all universities are created equal, and this same concept applies to coding bootcamps.
Some bootcamps have working relationships with big name employers, well connected instructors, and especially rigorous training. Others may be significantly less robust. Whether the program you’re considering is offered by a university or a bootcamp, it’s important to do your due diligence to insure that you’re making a sound investment of your time and money. Do your research into the languages that are taught, the networking events offered, and the all-around outcomes of graduates before enrolling in any program.
The cost of a college education becomes more expensive with each passing year. And with the mounting student debt crisis, it is crucial that students consider the feasibility of paying off their loans after graduation. This is just as true for anyone considering enrolling in a coding bootcamp.
Because coding bootcamps are shorter and more streamlined than a college education, they tend to be significantly cheaper. But with an average tuition of more than $11,000, they are not exactly cheap. However many coding bootcamps offer scholarships, job guarantees, and flexible payment plans that can help lessen the burden.
In much of the workforce, a college degree is considered valuable not just for the formal education it represents, but also for the life experience it imparts. College is just as much a social rite of passage as it is an educational institution, and many employers place value on having a team with this shared experience. An aspiring developer without a college degree should consider if the university experience in general will yield important opportunities for their career.
But for those who have already been to college, the thought of returning to an undergraduate environment can be understandably unappealing. Coding bootcamps, however, tend to attract people in their late twenties and early thirties. Furthermore, having several years of work experience already under your belt is beneficial since many employers look favorably upon bootcamp graduates for having relevant industry knowledge and a baseline of professionalism that fresh CS majors have yet to acquire. Bootcamps also make the most sense for younger students, say high school graduates, who are seeking a fast track to their career. Many teenagers and young adults have already have a basic understanding of coding or a passion for technology and want to get into the workforce quickly and affordably.
Take a look at this inforgraphic from WhatsTheHost for more stats on coding bootcamps & computer science degrees!