Are you struggling to compare a coding bootcamp vs degree? Are you trying to determine if a coding trade school is right for you? No need to worry. This informative guide has all the answers. We go in-depth discussing the differences between coding bootcamp vs college to help you decide which is best for your career goals.
There are two main routes people take to get to developing jobs: a computer science degree from a university or a coding bootcamp. It can be difficult to determine which path is best in terms of employer value, career opportunities, and potential pay. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to help you figure it out.
The Era of Coding Trade School
Welcome to the era of coding bootcamps! We’re happy to have you. In all seriousness, the world of coding bootcamps has exploded over the past few years. What were once small technical programs have since transformed into hundreds of different educational institutions available online and across the globe.
It’s no secret that coding bootcamps are innovative and essentially changing the way those in the tech industry are trained. Coding bootcamps are helping to erase the stigma of those who bypass the traditional college experience.
The 3 Big Pros of Coding Trade School
Coding bootcamps are essentially coding trade schools. These are educational institutions that cram a whole lot of training into a much shorter period of time than a traditional college degree program. So, if you have ever found yourself wishing to find trade schools for computer science, you’re in luck: coding bootcamps are exactly that.
It’s easy to see why these revolutionary programs are gaining such traction. Coding bootcamps provide accessible education to people of all backgrounds using a variety of methods. Coding bootcamps maintain their accessibility and technological edge in a few ways, we’ll break those down below.
The sad truth about education in our society is that not everyone can afford it. The number one reason why coding trade schools are changing the world is that there are so many ways to pay for coding bootcamps. They’re cheap when compared to traditional education paths. Many coding bootcamps even offer a financing option called income share agreement (ISAs).
Contrary to traditional loans, ISAs don’t change interest rates or force you to continue your payments until you’re in your fifties. Upon signing your ISA, you agree that in exchange for your coding trade school paying for your education plus any additional agreed-upon expenses (sometimes room and board or living stipends), you will owe a portion of your future salary to your institution upon graduation.
81% of participants stated they felt more confident about their tech job prospects after attending a bootcamp. Get matched to a bootcamp today.
The average bootcamp grad spent less than six months in career transition, from starting a bootcamp to finding their first job.
So for example, if you were to agree to an ISA with a 17% rate with a repayment term of three years, then you would agree to pay your institution 17% of your future salary for three years.
Many bootcamp ISA’s also have a minimum income threshold to trigger payment. For example, you may have to make over $50,000 per year before you qualify for repayment. ISAs ensure that everyone who wants to go to a coding bootcamp has an opportunity to do so, even if they don’t have the funds upfront to pay for it.
It’s no secret that college can be a hectic and strenuous time for many. Working hours on end and pulling all-nighters doesn’t leave much time for working another job or raising a family. This is where a coding trade school comes in.
The lack of flexible schedule options in college is what leads many people to compare a coding bootcamp vs associate’s degree. While coding bootcamps are very intensive, they are way shorter than the traditional four-year college program.
The average coding bootcamp lasts anywhere from 3 to 24 months. In addition to in-person courses, many coding bootcamps also offer online courses. Coding bootcamps can also be taken full-time, part-time, or even self-paced! Now, regardless of your prior commitments or current situation, anyone, anywhere, can learn to code!
3. Career-Forward Thinking
Coding bootcamps are fast-paced, which makes you wonder how easy it is to learn in such an environment. Fortunately, many coding trade schools are structured to skip the theoretical and only teach hands-on mechanics that you’ll actually use in the labor force.
Coding bootcamps offer great educational value, but they’re also highly career-forward programs. I mean the point of attending a coding bootcamp is to get a job, right? Many coding bootcamps offer exclusive career services which include mock interviews, resume workshops, and even meetings with top tech companies.
Many coding bootcamps even partner with specific tech companies to offer special programs and interviews for their graduates! It’s important to look for these programs while searching for your dream coding bootcamp. From the day you set foot in your coding bootcamp, you’ll be immersed in a career-forward environment that is determined to help you succeed in the workforce.
The 3 Big Pros of College
Attending college is the traditional and most common educational path to take. There are a few different types of college education you need to consider:
- Undergraduate degrees (associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree)
- Graduate degrees (master’s or doctoral degrees)
There are advantages that apply to each type of college education you can receive. These include your potential future earnings, job security, and the type of education you would receive. Let’s take a closer look at these advantages.
1. Increased Income Potential
The first big pro of attending college is increased income potential. Even when comparing a coding bootcamp vs associate’s degree, you are likely to start your career with a higher salary if you earn an associate’s degree.
This is because many employers see college education as the superior form of learning. Attending a coding trade school will still give you the proper education needed to succeed in any tech career, but if you are looking for the highest possible salary, you may want to give college a chance.
2. Well-rounded Education
While a coding trade school will certainly provide all the technical skills you need to start a tech career, you won’t really learn about the history or theories behind the skills. If you compare the curriculum of a coding bootcamp vs associate’s degree in computer science, for example, you’ll see a much heavier focus on theoretical learning in the associate’s degree program.
This isn’t a complete necessity for most tech jobs, but if you’re the type of person that loves learning and wants to become an expert, college is the way to go. An associate’s degree would likely teach you more theoretical knowledge in your area of study than a trade school for computer science would.
3. Some Jobs Require a Degree
Even though we are living in the era of coding trade schools, there are still many tech jobs that require a college degree. This is caused by two things: employers simply not understanding the educational benefits of a coding trade school, and some jobs simply being too complex for the coding trade school curriculum.
You will likely be able to find jobs in web development, software engineering, and even data science if you attend one of the trade schools for computer science. However, if you want to work as, say, an artificial intelligence (AI) engineer, you’ll probably need to pursue a graduate-level degree.
Comparing Coding Bootcamps vs College
Below, you will find the five biggest factors to consider when choosing between a coding trade school or college. There are many other things to consider, but the most important aspects are cost, duration, curriculum, employer sentiment, and potential pay.
Coding Bootcamp vs College: Cost
When it comes to the cost of a coding bootcamp vs college, coding bootcamps are typically much less expensive. The average cost of a bootcamp is slightly under $12,000, but a college degree can be double or triple the cost of one year of tuition alone. Then, it takes over four years to complete. Many university tuitions can range between $60,000-70,000 a year, and even the cheapest college education can still run you $20,000 per year.
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Living costs are also an important thing to take into account. The longer you study, the longer you have to sustain yourself, and that gets expensive. If you add up living expenses and tuition, a degree in computer science could end up costing you over $500,000.
For less than the price of one semester at a university, bootcamp programs include programming skills and prepare students for a career in software development, which could net bootcamp grads $75,000-85,000 in their first position.
Coding Bootcamp vs Degree: Duration
In determining the time of a bootcamp vs degree, you can plan to spend less time in a bootcamp than in a degree program. Some bootcamps run as short as eight to ten weeks and they’ll teach you the basics of a programming language. Many without previous experience freelance for a month or two to accrue experience before applying for full-time positions in the field.
Computer science degree programs last four years. Some people get it done slightly faster, but they take a long time and a lot of work. Built into that, though, comes a lot of practice. Think of bootcamps as a crash course; they’ll teach you what you need to put you on your feet, but you won’t walk very far unless you use it every day. Computer science degrees have that time built into the program itself.
However, the difference in length may also be an asset. If you need to pick up some skills on the fly to apply them to a new exciting project, bootcamps are for you.
How Much Time Do I Need to Invest in a Computer Science Degree vs Bootcamp?
You will likely have slightly less of a time commitment in a computer science degree vs bootcamp. Though they can be completed in a matter of weeks, bootcamps are intensive. As mentioned in the previous section, while they give you the knowledge, they also give you less practice than a computer science degree.
If you want to make the best of your new knowledge and skills, you’ll need to prepare before the bootcamp, work during the program, and practice after class. Most bootcamp students won’t be able to work while studying unless enrolled in a part-time program.
To make the best of your bootcamp, you have to do your homework. It sounds silly, but you’d be surprised at how many people do nothing in the course they’ve paid for. You signed up and paid tuition to work hard; doing all the work you’re assigned will help you learn much faster. Computer programming is active learning. You will learn better by doing rather than by listening.
Coding Bootcamp vs Degree: Curriculum
The curriculum of a coding bootcamp vs degree is very different. A computer science degree offers a more well-rounded view, and you get a lot of training on the hows and whys of computers, like operating systems and information systems.
You’ll also be able to combine computer science with other disciplines more formally than you would at a bootcamp, such as computer engineering. Most degree programs require general education classes, so you’ll also be learning some history, some politics, and some biology. You might also take classes such as the history of computers.
However, you won’t necessarily use the coding languages you’ll get in a typical computer science program to build a website or the next mobile app. Instead, they’ll provide a foundation for programming and a deep dive into the algorithms that help developers scale apps. Bootcamps, however, focus more on coding languages, tools, and practical skills specifically for developers.
There’s also a matter of learning style; if you learn by doing and you like hands-on, project-based learning, you’ll probably learn best at a bootcamp. They don’t often have a lecture portion; rather, you can expect short introductions to concepts and then in-depth assignments. The “I-We-You” method employed by many bootcamps uses a few different steps. First, the class is shown how something works. Then, you do it together as a group, and then you work on it on your own.
Many bootcamps, like Fullstack Academy, are starting to add computer science fundamentals into their curriculum. They have added a whole additional day of instruction to their MEAN Stack bootcamp devoted to computer science theory.
In short, a coding degree will give you a more well-rounded understanding that will also go into the history of the industry and explain how and why things are used. A bootcamp will be more hands-on, and you’re likely to learn the actual practice better.
Coding Bootcamp vs College: Which Do Employers Value More?
Employers can go either way when it comes to education from a coding bootcamp vs college. If your goal is to be one of the big guns (VP of Engineering at a big company), you’re looking at a full degree.
CS degrees can also be more impressive to non-technical HR executives, especially from a top school or coding college. Bootcamps certainly try their hardest to help you get a job straight after graduation, and it’s possible to get a job at a top business without a computer science degree, but you’ll have to prove yourself.
If your goals are more in the startup arena, a coding bootcamp is a much better option. Startup culture values your personal projects and self-taught experience. In fact, it’ll be taken as a sign of your entrepreneurial drive, which is highly valued. Working at a startup might help you gain the same knowledge and skills that you would get in a computer science degree.
So if what you’re looking at is to launch your own startup, you just need the base skills to build your app, website, or tool. In that case, skip the computer science degree and go to a coding bootcamp. If rubbing shoulders with executives at Google, Apple, or Amazon is in your future, plan to earn a computer science degree from a good coding college at some point down the road.
Coding Bootcamp vs College: Potential Pay
Your potential salary may change if you attend a coding bootcamp vs college. While the type of education you receive will impact your salary, your pay is primarily determined by the career options you have. Bootcamp graduates tend to have the upper hand when it comes to easily finding entry-level jobs with a better salary after coding bootcamp. This is because many bootcamps offer career guarantees and assistance.
With a four-year degree, you may have difficulty getting into your career right away. However, you will likely find a college degree to be more useful when it comes to climbing your way to the top. Those with undergraduate degrees are often paid a higher base salary too.
Overall, though, employers in the tech industry tend to be more interested in candidates with the right combination of soft skills and technical skills that are best learned through hands-on experience. Neither a coding bootcamp nor an undergraduate degree can really teach soft skills. This is why it is important for any tech career to gain as much experience as possible, through internships and hands-on practice.
Coding Bootcamp vs Associate’s Degree
Typically when referring to college, people think of a four-year degree. But what about the comparison of coding bootcamp vs associate’s degree? An associate’s degree is a two-year degree, often earned at community colleges. It is possible to earn a computer science associate’s degree. With this degree, you will have access to many of the same opportunities as a bootcamp certificate.
Bootcamp certificates are better for working in start-ups while bachelor’s degrees are good for making it in the big tech companies. An associate’s degree can also help you get a foot in the door with those companies, but they generally prefer candidates with more advanced degrees.
So, if you opt for an associate’s degree, you will start your career in about the same place as a bootcamp graduate. The advantage is that an associate’s degree will make it easier to continue a college education in the future. However, attending a coding bootcamp is a better option if you want to save time and money.
What Careers Can I Start With a Computer Science Degree vs Bootcamp?
The career options you have differ depending on whether you are a college student in a computer science degree program, a computer science graduate, a current bootcamp student, or a coding bootcamp graduate. If you are in any of these categories, you can likely find work as a web developer or entry-level software engineer.
With just a programming bootcamp education, you can easily find work as a web developer, web designer, or IT manager. If you enroll in a software engineering or data science bootcamp, you can also easily begin working in those fields. An intensive program will offer a deeper understanding of the careers you can work in, as well as the technical skills and soft skills necessary to succeed with just a coding trade school education.
Careers like software engineering and computer science tend to require either a bachelor’s degree or bootcamp certification. With a degree, you will likely start your career with more experience than a bootcamp program. This will allow for faster movement to senior and management-level positions. You can do just as well in these fields by completing a trade school for computer science, it will likely just be a slower process.
Some careers require an advanced degree. For example, if you want to become an AI engineer, you will likely need at least a four-year degree. You will do better in this field with an advanced degree though. You would also need an advanced degree to pursue any sort of academic career, such as a professor of computer science.
How to Get a CS Job Without a Degree
To get a computer science job without a degree, you will either want to spend quite a bit of time teaching yourself or enroll in a CS bootcamp. Here are five easy steps you can take to find that CS job without having to complete a four-year degree program:
1. Know the Difference Between Computer Science vs Coding
Before you begin preparing for that dream job in CS, you’ll want to be sure you know the differences between computer science vs coding. While they do share certain aspects, CS and coding are different.
Computer science focuses on studying computers and all of their components, including coding, but also including the design and development of computers and their applications. Coding strictly involves the study of various programming languages and learning to write code in them.
2. Learn Basic Coding Languages
There are many coding languages out there, often making it difficult to decide which you should learn. The most popular coding languages you will find in the computer science field are:
You can learn these languages on your own. Hands-on learning is often easiest when it comes to coding, and it gives you a bit of experience.
3. Enroll in Online CS Courses
Once you have the basics of coding down, you’ll want to enroll in some online computer science courses. Many of these cover the very basics of computer science. They can be useful in preparing you for a computer science bootcamp, and often contain info not covered in bootcamps or degree programs.
You can find these courses on many websites by simply searching “computer science course”. Some are free, but even the ones that are not are inexpensive.
4. Enroll in a CS Bootcamp
Enrolling in one of the best coding bootcamps is possibly the best way to get a CS job without a degree. There are dozens out there, many of which are available both in-person and totally online. Take some time to research and find the bootcamp that best suits your personal, financial, and educational needs.
5. Begin Searching for Your Dream Job
After completing a bootcamp, you can begin searching for your dream job. Many CS bootcamps offer career guarantees or career assistance, which can be utilized to find a good job fast. Otherwise, you can search the Internet using your new coding bootcamp certificate on your resume.
Is College or a Bootcamp Right for Me?
Coding bootcamp vs degree: both have their pros and cons. Bootcamps are increasingly popular; they’re efficient, short, and, by graduation, you’ll have the skills to kickstart your career. Colleges are still popular too: they increase your future income potential, teach more in-depth courses, and are often needed for certain jobs.
When trying to determine which you should choose, ask yourself these three questions:
1. What Do You Want to Achieve?
Do you have a dream company that you’d like to work for? Do you have an idea for a world-changing app and want to learn the skills needed to build it? Whatever your motivation for learning how to code, it’s important to consider your goals before deciding where to further your education. Some programs may fit better with your vision than others.
2. What Can You Afford?
Like many decisions in life, it all comes down to what you can afford. It’s important to remember that many coding bootcamps offer both ISAs and traditional loans, many even give discounts to those who pay the total amount upfront. Regardless of your financial situation, know that there are always options for paying for your education. If it’s your dream to learn to code, don’t let anything stop you!
3. Which Program is Right for You?
Whether you’ve already made your decision to attend a coding trade school or a community college, make sure to research several different programs. Don’t make the mistake of settling on the first program you find. There might just be another program that fits even better! Doing your research before committing can save you a lot of time, money, and heartache down the road.
Coding Bootcamp vs. College: A Conclusion
All in all, deciding between a coding bootcamp vs associate’s degree, or coding bootcamp vs college in general can be tough. Take your time to research various colleges and trade schools for computer science, the programs offered, and all the other factors discussed in this guide before you make your decision.
Coding Bootcamp vs Degree FAQ
Coding bootcamps are not necessarily better than degrees. Each has its merits, and which is better varies from person to person. If you want a fast education and to work in a start-up, a bootcamp may be better for you. But, if you want to take your time and eventually work higher up in a big tech company, a degree may be better.
Yes, it is worth attending a coding bootcamp. Whether you are a coding newbie or veteran, bootcamps offer an array of useful, up-to-date educational material you can benefit from. In a coding bootcamp, you will not only learn to code, but how to code in the modern-day tech industry.
Employers do like coding bootcamps. It depends on the job you are applying for, but generally speaking, employers see bootcamp graduates as dedicated, experienced workers. Some employers do prefer degrees though, so it is important to research your dream job before starting your education path.
Coding, or programming, is a good job. People who use coding for work in fields like computer science and software engineering are typically very satisfied with their jobs. They also earn high salaries, tend to receive great employee benefits, and have no trouble finding work because their jobs are in high demand
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.