Coding bootcamps and professional programming certifications are popular and effective options for career advancement in the tech industry. However, they each target a different type of professional, which means that you should do some research before settling for one or the other. In this article, we dissect every aspect of coding bootcamps and programming certifications to help you decide which one is for you.
With more and more people gravitating toward the tech industry every year due to bright job prospects and high salaries, there is no doubt that earning a credential that will help you stand out should be at the front of your mind. Below, we help you make the right career move by giving you the information you need to decide between enrolling in a bootcamp or becoming certified in a particular language, system, or tool.
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What Is the Difference Between a Coding Bootcamp and a Certification?
Coding bootcamps and programming certifications are designed for different audiences. There are other differences as well that you should know about before choosing to attend a bootcamp or become certified. Below, we present the key differences between these two types of credentials in table format for easy visualization.
|Program||Average price||Target Audience||Outcome|
|Bootcamp||$11,270||Beginners in most cases, although there are bootcamps for experienced professionals who want to hone their skills further||Entry-level positions (in most cases)|
|Programming Certification||$500||Professionals with some experience||Mid or senior level position|
What Is a Bootcamp?
A bootcamp is a training program that teaches you technical skills in a particular area over a short period of time. They are a great way for beginners to learn the basics, gain experience, and build up a portfolio of projects that proves their skills.
Bootcamps are designed to provide intensive, hands-on training and typically last between three to six months. You can find many bootcamps that train people in data science, UX design, and web development. Getting accepted into a bootcamp is an excellent way for beginners to break into tech.
Pros of Coding Bootcamps
- They provide hands-on experience. Bootcamps provide you with practical skills. They are designed to give you plenty of opportunities to translate theoretical knowledge into projects you can then use to create a portfolio that showcases your abilities and creativity.
- You are taught in-demand skills. Bootcamps focus on providing skills that are in demand in your chosen industry, whether that´s a particular programming language, framework, or methodology. Your learning will be based on the needs of the market.
- You have access to career services. Bootcamps typically provide support to students through career coaches and other services so you can successfully land a job upon graduation. This support can make all the difference if you’ve never had a tech job before.
Cons of Coding Bootcamps
- They enjoy only limited recognition. While bootcamps are becoming more and more popular in the tech world, they still don’t hold as much weight as traditional degrees or certifications awarded by organizations with worldwide recognition. This might limit your options when entering the workforce.
- They are not covered by federal aid. Most coding bootcamps are not accredited which means you cannot use the FAFSA form to help finance their cost. Although there are some exceptions to this, such as the EQUIP program, it is generally hard to obtain federal aid for these types of programs.
- They demand great discipline and commitment. The intensity of coding bootcamps has become their calling card. These programs pack thousands of hours of study into a curriculum lasting only a few months. To complete the program, the student must be serious about their studies and committed to learning to code.
What Is a Certification?
A certification is a credential that demonstrates your competency in a particular subject or field. A coding certification demonstrates your skills and knowledge in a specific area of programming, such as database management or cyber security.
A certification is typically awarded once you have passed an examination administered by a standard-setting organization with a strong reputation in its field. This means that, in order to obtain a certification, you need to have a working knowledge of your chosen field, and possibly some work experience as well. In addition, you need to fulfill ongoing requirements to maintain your certification over time.
These are some of the most popular programming certifications out there:
|General Programming||Cloud Programming||Data Management & Data Analysis||style=”text-align: center;”Cyber Security|
|Oracle Certified Associate Java Programmer (OCAJP)||AWS Certified Developer Associate
||Oracle MySQL Database Administration Training and Certification (CMDBA)
|Certified Associate in Python Programming (PCAP)||Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate||MongoDB Certified Developer Associate Exam||Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)|
|Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP)||Adobe Experience Cloud Certification||SAS Advanced Analytics certifications||Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)|
Pros of Certifications
- They constitute a reputable credential. Certifications are awarded by organizations that are widely recognized in their field and set the standards in their industry. Obtaining a credential from them can greatly increase your own reputation as an expert.
- They are relatively cheap. The average cost of a certification exam is much lower than that of a bootcamp. That, combined with the abundance of free resources you can use to learn coding, means you won’t need a great investment to launch your career.
- You can learn the skills on your own. A certification measures your existing skills, not where you learned them. This means that you can choose whatever learning format works best according to your learning style and schedule.
Cons of Certifications
- They must be maintained. In order to keep your certification over time, you will have to fulfill ongoing requirements. This means you need to keep track of new requirements, brush up on your skills, and keep demonstrating your expertise.
- They require previous knowledge and experience. Certification exams are not designed for beginners. If you don’t have training and experience, whether formal or informal, you likely won’t be able to pass the examination.
- They have a narrow focus. Certifications will demonstrate your expertise in a very specific area. This means that it will also narrow your range of opportunities when job hunting.
Bootcamps vs. Certifications: Compared
Both coding bootcamps and certifications will bolster your career, increase your credibility as a professional, and make you more attractive to prospective employers. But they will do it in different ways. Keep reading to find out more about the different ways a bootcamp and a certification can support your career.
Bootcamps and certifications are geared toward different audiences. A coding bootcamp is designed to train beginners or people with fundamental skills. They provide comprehensive training in a particular area of tech, and their curriculum covers everything from the very basics to the more advanced skills needed to land a tech job.
On the other hand, a certification is typically geared toward people who already have knowledge and skills in their chosen field. In fact, it is usually preferable if they have work experience as well. It is a way to vouch for those existing skills, not build them up from scratch.
When you successfully complete a certification exam, you will receive a credential you can attach to your resume. A certification is a piece of evidence that you will be able to present to prospective employers to demonstrate that a third party has tested your skills and deemed them on par with industry standards.
Bootcamps, on the other hand, offer no such credentials. Some bootcamps might award you a certificate of completion upon graduation. However, they are not accredited to award a degree. What you gain upon graduation are the skills you need to land a job. Most bootcamps will also offer you career support to help you land a job after you complete the program.
Requirements for Maintenance
Once you have completed your coding bootcamp, you can head out into the world and hunt for your dream tech job. The knowledge, skills, and experience you gain are with you, but bootcamp graduates are not expected to complete any additional requirements.
On the other hand, you are typically required to sit for examinations periodically once you successfully obtain your certification. This is in order to ensure that you continue to stay on top of new developments in your field and continue to fulfill the standards set by the organization providing the certification.
The majority of bootcamp students are able to land a job after graduation. For example, Flatiron School reports that 90 percent of its students land an in-field job. Likewise, most bootcamp grads see a salary increase once they re-enter the labor market. According to Thinkful, its graduate sees a salary increase of $17,000 after their program.
The corresponding data for certification holders is hard to obtain but it is easy to see how earning a certification improves both your employability and salary prospects. You can find information related to your potential salary with a specific certification on sites like Indeed, Paycale, and Skillsoft. For example, according to Skillsoft, obtaining the Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate certification correlates to an average salary of $129,705 in North America.
Bootcamps are generally considered one of the most pocket-friendly ways to gain the skills needed for a tech career, with your average program costing under $12,000, according to Career Karma’s State of the Bootcamp Market report. However, certification exams are even cheaper. Entry-level certifications can cost as little as $100, whereas expert-level tests can set you back as much as $1,500.
There are other factors that make certification more expensive than it appears. First, the numbers we’ve given you here cover just the cost of the exam. You will also have to pay for study materials like books. You may also have to take a course or undergo some form of training if you are not ready for the exam. In addition, most certifications need to be renewed, which often involves paying a fee to retake the exam.
Format and Schedule
Bootcamps come in a variety of formats and can fit into the schedule of almost any student. Most schools offer full-time and part-time modalities. In addition, you can often attend the program on campus, online, or choose a hybrid option. This all amounts to great flexibility and an abundance of choice for the student, which makes bootcamps an attractive option for tech hopefuls.
In the case of certifications, students also enjoy flexibility as they generally have the freedom to choose any training program they want to prepare for the exam. For example, to prepare for one of Oracle’s Java certifications, you can study on your own, join an asynchronous course on Udemy or even enroll in a full-time Java coding bootcamp, to name a few options.
Should You Choose a Bootcamp or a Certification?
To choose between a coding bootcamp or a certification, you should first do some research and introspection. Spend some time learning more about both forms of training to get to know each as well as possible. Talk with representatives from bootcamps and certification programs that you find interesting and evaluate which one meets your particular needs.
Next, reflect on where you are at in your career as well as what your career goals are and what you would like to get out of the whole process. Only once you have formed a clear idea on these topics, will you be able to confidently decide if you should enroll in a bootcamp or study for a particular certification. Whatever your choice, the time you invest in training and obtaining valuable credentials will massively benefit your career prospects.
Bootcamps vs Certifications FAQ
Yes, bootcamp certificates are worth it. They demonstrate that you’ve gone through intensive training and gained the skills to land a job in your chosen field. Graduating from a coding bootcamp is a great way to gain access to higher salaries and better job opportunities.
What can you do with a certification in coding?
You can land better-paying jobs in your chosen field with a certification in coding. In addition, many specialized jobs require applicants to hold a particular certification. Obtaining it will give you access to roles that would not be an option for you otherwise.
What’s the difference between bootcamps and basic training?
The main difference between coding bootcamps and other forms of training in programming concerns the pace of study as well as the skills that are emphasized. Coding bootcamps have very condensed curriculums that cram thousands of hours of study into a few months. In addition, bootcamp programs focus on the skills that are currently in demand. Other forms of training in coding may last longer, be less intensive, and prioritize theory over practice.
Are professional certificates worth it?
Professional certificate programs can be an effective way of mastering a particular skill, advancing your knowledge in your field, or demonstrating expertise in an industry. However, the quality of professional certificates varies widely so make sure to do your research to ensure it is offered by a respected educational institution or an authority in the field.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.