Coding Bootcamp vs College: Which One Should You Choose?
If you are hoping to launch a career in the tech industry, picking the right educational path is one of the most important decisions you will have to make. The right choice will help you make the most of your time and resources, and provide you with the tools to succeed in your chosen field. The most common options for people interested in tech include coding bootcamps and traditional college degrees.
If the coding bootcamp vs college debate has you stumped, we’ve created this article to help you out. In it, you will find all the information you need to make an informed decision, including the characteristics of each, what employers think, and the pros and cons of each option. Let’s get started.
Coding Bootcamp vs College: At a Glance
|Coding Bootcamp||Computer Science Degree|
|Average price: $13,500||Average price: $65,000|
|Duration: Four months to one year||Duration: Four years|
|Curriculum: Bootcamps are designed to give you practical coding training. They offer short courses that teach specific programming skills.||Curriculum: Computer science degrees include computer science concepts, general education, electives, knowledge of operating systems, and computer architecture.|
|Job readiness: Bootcamps help students learn relevant and up-to-date programming skills so they can join the workforce immediately after graduation.||Job readiness: Computer Science degrees prepare students for a competitive workforce, offering higher qualifications and in-depth knowledge.|
|Repute: Bootcamps are, in general, regarded positively by employers seeking coders with a specific skillset.||Repute: Employers tend to trust that college degree graduates come equipped with a wide set of skills to perform their work effectively.|
What Is a Coding Bootcamp?
A coding bootcamp is an intensive program that offers technical training. It is designed to equip students with a specific skill set and prepare them to be job-ready upon graduation. Bootcamps focus on hands-on experience and provide intensive education in software engineering, information technology, and computer programming.
By enrolling in a coding bootcamp, you will gain in-depth, hands-on experience in your chosen area, which will help you stand out from other applicants. To gain a deeper understanding of what a coding bootcamp is, keep reading to find out about some of their common features.
Compared to a traditional college, bootcamp courses can be completed in a matter of weeks or months. They include rigorous training for a specific skill required to get a job in the tech industry. They do not include long hours of lectures for general subjects. Within a short period of time, bootcamp coding graduates can earn experience and certifications that will help them secure work in their chosen field.
Bootcamp students learn coding through hands-on projects and activities. This way, they can solidify their skills through practice, making them more effective coders overall. Project-based learning also allows students to build strong portfolios that include advanced projects that require high-level technical skills.
Bootcamps not only offer technical courses but also feature career services like mentorship and career coaching. Students have the chance to join career workshops, job fairs, and training to help them develop soft skills. They learn how to make an effective resume and how they can use portfolios to showcase their skills and talents, making them more competitive in their job hunt.
Can You Get a Job with Just a Coding Bootcamp?
Yes, coding bootcamp graduates are usually able to land a job quickly after graduation. Coding bootcamps have a competitive employment rate and many of them, like General Assembly, for example, report a high job placement rate of up to 99%. Bootcamps help you develop your skills and prepare you to apply for top tech jobs.
Several entry-level and intermediate programming jobs only require practical experience and certificates. You can find lots of tech career opportunities for bootcamp grads on many job sites. However, to qualify for advanced and higher positions, a college degree in information technology, computer science, and any other related field may be required.
Do Employers Like Coding Bootcamps?
The practical experience that coding bootcamps provide is what makes bootcamp grads stand out among job applicants. Many employers are looking for candidates with proven experience related to the position. Bootcamps help students engage with real-world projects where they can enhance their skills and become adept at software development.
In the tech industry, hands-on experience in several programming languages such as Python, Java, HTML, C, and PHP are preferred. Although some employers may provide training for their newly hired employees, most of them look for experienced applicants because they can easily catch up with the training compared to newbies.
How Much Do Bootcamp Grads Earn?
Bootcamp graduates can get well-paying jobs after they graduate. For instance, Thinkful reports that its part-time bootcamp students in Software Engineering, Data Analytics, and Data Science earn a $17,000 increase in salary after they graduate. Meanwhile, Coding Temple graduates earn an average salary of $67,000 after completing a course.
Coding Bootcamp vs College Degree: Key Factors When Making a Decision
There are some key factors you should consider when choosing between enrolling in a coding bootcamp or a college. These factors include cost, the time you will spend studying, and how the curriculum aligns with your career goals. Below is a comparison between a bootcamp program and a college program.
When it comes to costs, coding bootcamps are usually cheaper than college. The average cost of a bootcamp is $13,500, which is cheaper than traditional college degrees which require fees over multiple years. Computer science degree programs have an average tuition fee of $30,000 to $80,000. In terms of time, college students need to spend four years before graduating from a college degree program, while bootcamps can be completed in weeks or months.
Another factor is the average salary that graduates from both programs can obtain. While college graduates can earn an average salary of up to $87,000, bootcamp grads can earn up to $70,000. Learning at bootcamps requires less time and money, although there is a slight difference in earning potential.
Time It Takes to Enter the Workforce
Most bootcamps offer courses that can be completed within four months to one year while computer science degree programs typically last for four years. Bootcamp curricula focus on a specific skill you need to get a job, while the college degree includes theoretical lessons and other minor subjects. University programs help students build a strong foundation in computer science while bootcamps are about practical skills and applications.
If you need to get a job immediately, enrolling in a bootcamp may be the best choice. However, you need to have a strong learning style when you enroll at a bootcamp. While a computer science program will require you to spend more time learning, bootcamps last for a few months, so you will need to dedicate a lot of time and effort over a short period to stay on top of your training.
If you are still new to the tech industry and just starting your career as a programmer or a software developer, a bootcamp is a better option for you. This is also true if you are an experienced coder looking to boost your knowledge in a particular field. If your long-term plan is to apply to higher-level tech positions and reach seniority in your field, you might need to get a college degree instead. So make sure to think about your long-term career goals when making your choice.
Coding Bootcamp vs College: Pros and Cons
Let’s dive deeper and learn more about the comparison of coding bootcamps and colleges. Below you’ll find relevant information that will help you decide when choosing between a bootcamp course or a college degree. Both sides have benefits and limitations.
Coding Bootcamps Pros
- One of the most common advantages of coding bootcamps over colleges is they are cheaper and more affordable.
- Bootcamps offer a practical way of teaching technical skills. A strong portfolio that includes practical training or hands-on experience is very important when applying for a tech job.
- Bootcamp courses also let you focus on a particular field or programming language. You don’t need to spend time with electives or general courses.
- Coding bootcamps teach up-to-date lessons and skills. Technology quickly changes and upgrades, so you need to level up your skills based on the latest trends in programming.
- Bootcamps offer courses with a flexible timeline to fit the working schedule of professionals.
Coding Bootcamps Cons
- A coding bootcamp won’t teach you computer science in a deeper sense. It only involves coding and practical applications of programming.
- Bootcamp grads sometimes struggle to land senior roles. Many companies require a college diploma when hiring for these roles.
- You also need to be committed to learning while studying at bootcamps. Being able to set your own schedule and maintaining focus are essential to staying on top of the training.
- Most coding bootcamp grads do not have a strong foundation in computer programming since they only focus on specific tools or skills. They are not fully prepared to respond to unexpected scenarios and situations in their field of work.
- Since it only takes weeks to months to finish a bootcamp program, you need to spend long hours per day studying or doing it over the weekend.
College Degree Pros
- A college degree program gives you lots of career options from entry-level to senior-level positions.
- On average, college grads are paid a higher salary than bootcamp grads.
- College grads have a broader foundation that includes the fundamentals of computer science and programming.
- A college curriculum offers flexible learning for different subjects. You will learn multiple programming languages and other aspects of information technology.
- You will also learn to develop your soft skills in college, including leadership and communication skills, which are essential when applying for a job.
College Degree Cons
- The college degree curriculum also includes minor subjects which are not relevant to the technical field.
- Computer science degree programs can be costly. Aside from tuition fees, you will also have extra expenses while you are studying at colleges or universities.
- College degrees will require you to finish a four-year degree course before you can get a diploma and apply for a job in the tech industry.
- Many colleges fail to keep up with the latest trends in programming and technology.
Best Coding Bootcamps to Launch Your Career
There are many coding bootcamps that can help you start your career. They offer quality training programs and the chance to gain hands-on experience. Below we’ve listed some of the best coding bootcamps to help you pick the right one according to your needs and career goals.
- Tuition: $5,350 – $15,950
- Programs: Data Science, Software Engineering, User Experience Design, Data Analytics, Web Development, Python Programming, and React Development
- Strengths: High-quality tech courses and constantly updated curricula
General Assembly offers the latest and most up-to-date curricula to keep up with the changes in the tech industry. It also guides students in preparing for a job application through career workshops and career coaching.
- Tuition: $18,900
- Programs: Software Engineering, Data Science, Cyber Security, and foundational courses for beginners
- Strengths: Cost-effective and time-effective programs with high employability rates for graduates
Flatiron School features a variety of payment options and scholarships for its students. About 90 percent of Flatiron School graduates got a job less than one year after graduating. It also offers free programs to start your tech career.
- Tuition: $4,500 – $18,500
- Programs: Software Engineering, Dat Science, Digital Marketing, Product Management, and UX/UI Design
- Strengths: Quality education, job guarantee, high employability rates
Thinkful has a unique “Tuition Refund Program” which means that graduates will get a refund of their tuition fee if they don’t get a job within 180 days of graduation. Prestigious companies like IBM, Amazon, and Google hire bootcamp graduates from Thinkful.
- Tuition: $9,950 (Part-Time); $14,950 (Full-Time)
- Programs: Full-Stack Web Development (Immersive or Flex program)
- Strengths: Focus on helping complete beginners gain expert coding skills
The fast-paced curriculum of DigitalCrafts helps students to become experts in software development regardless of their experience level. Bootcamp alumni from DigitalCrafts earn an average salary of $70,000 to $75,000.
- Tuition: $16,000
- Programs: Full Stack Web Development, Cyber Security, and Software Engineering
- Strengths: Career services, job assistance, and inclusive programs
Fullstack Academy Curriculum is based on the latest trends in tech to make sure students are equipped with an up-to-date skillset. It also offers scholarships and free courses for people who can’t afford full tuition.
- Tuition: $17,980
- Programs: Software Engineering, Networking and Reactive Programming, Computer Architecture and IoT, and Data Structures
- Strengths: Pioneer in offering online coding training for students
Hack Reactor offers multiple on-site and online courses for software development and computer programming. Through its many years of delivering online education, Hack Reactor produces competitive bootcamp students with its quality programs and courses.
- Tuition: $17,000 – $20,000 upfront
- Programs: Software Engineering
- Strengths: Offers different training paths according to students’ interests
In addition to traditional bootcamp programs, App Acadamy offers App Academy Open, a self-paced program that consists of more than 1,500 hours of online content that allows students to learn on their own. It also helps them to study with affordable tuition fees.
- Tuition: $99 – $12,000
- Programs: Software Engineering and Cyber Security
- Strengths: High job placement rates, appropriate for complete beginners
Code Fellows is well-known as one of the coding bootcamps with the highest job placement rate. Ninety-six percent of Code Fellows graduates got a job and became industry professionals after graduating. If you are a beginner looking for a great coding experience, Code Fellows has many things to offer you.
- Tuition: $2,450 – $15,000
- Programs: Data Science, UX Design, Web Development, and Digital Marketing
- Strengths: Offers training in digestible and affordable formats.
BrainStation offers various on-campus and online courses on two continents, so there are lots of options for you to study without worrying about the timezone. You can also choose from its part-time courses if you want to learn on a more flexible schedule.
- Tuition: $6,600 to $11,691
- Programs: Data Analytics, Cyber Security, Data Engineering, Data Science, Machine Learning Engineering, Software Engineering, and UX/UI Design
- Strengths: Offers career track courses, career coaching, and networking opportunities
All Springboard courses are online, so you have lots of options that will fit your schedule. Springboard also offers a full tuition fee refund when a student is unable to secure a job within six months after graduating.
Coding Bootcamp vs Computer Science Degree: Why Not Both?
In a highly competitive world where technology continues to evolve and become increasingly sophisticated and complex, companies are rigorous in choosing the best candidates for their tech positions. Both bootcamps and traditional college degrees can help you gain the necessary skills. But if you want short, intensive training to help you become job-ready as fast as possible, a bootcamp is your best bet.
Bootcamps help students gain practical experience in coding, which is essential for landing a job in a short period of time. If you are a complete beginner looking to get specific training in tech, you should consider enrolling in a bootcamp. If you are a seasoned professional and already have a college degree, a bootcamp can still help you update your skills and remain competitive in your field.