Coding bootcamps made their debut around 2011 and these intensive software training programs are still running strong. This likely comes as no surprise, as code related jobs remain on the rise, and the industry needs more developers. Software developer jobs offer individuals exciting career opportunities and, in some cases, the potential to earn high starting salaries.
If you’re interested in joining the developer ranks, does it matter where and how you pick up coding skills? Computer Science degrees from four-year universities offer an obvious path to breaking into tech, but not everyone has the time or resources to pursue a four year degree – especially if you’ve already got one in another field. But are coding bootcamps worth it? Can they deliver the same promises of employment as universities?
Advantages of Coding Bootcamps
With lower costs and faster paced programs, coding bootcamps are an attractive alternative to a traditional college degree. Even the coding bootcamps at the upper end of the tuition spectrum – hitting above $20,000 – fall far below the expense of a four-year degree. Furthermore, bootcamps feature a compressed timeframe for learning developer skills since they require none of the general education courses that a university degree does.
The compressed timeframe for completing code school instruction – most take 12 weeks – means longer hours per week than a college course. Most coding bootcamps require a 40-hour weekly obligation, and some can demand upwards of 72 hours from their students. They are a serious commitment. Yet code bootcamps also can offer smaller course sizes than many universities, which mean more specialized attention from instructors.
Coding bootcamps also have a very practical edge to them, with coursework being focused on the most current languages and skills. Students are typically asked to work in teams and many programs also have an emphasis on the soft skills that are highly desired by employers.
Reasons to Consider a Computer Science Degree
While coding bootcamps do offer focused training for a lower price, they have limitations. Most are not accredited, and there are no common standards across schools, so the quality of the education you receive varies.
In contrast, a university degree provides solid credentials, which means employers aren’t as concerned that you have a strong portfolio of work to share — although you will still need to prove your skills. Universities also provide a much broader overview of the scientific field of computing, giving graduates more depth of knowledge in foundational topics like operating systems, algorithms, machine learning, and so forth. Universities also have a broader range of instruction that they are able to offer; many coding bootcamps focus solely on data science and web/mobile development classes.
Further, in reality, tech companies prefer to hire programmers equipped with four-year degrees when they can. An Indeed survey found that 72% of employers consider graduates of coding bootcamps equally prepared as those with degrees. However, 41% would still rather hire applicants with college diplomas.
Employment & Salary Statistics for Grads of Coding Bootcamps
While the tuition for bootcamps varies, most students ultimately paid $11,874 for a program. And that investment can pay off. The average salary after bootcamp sits at $70,698 – a 50.5% increase in the average salary students had before completing a code program. Alumni with a programming background prior to bootcamp typically earned higher salaries. Graduates with degrees in Engineering and Mathematics reported the highest salaries after bootcamp.
Looking for Coding Bootcamps?
While some coding bootcamps are strictly online, many are centered around classroom time. If you’re based near our offices in Boulder or Austin, we can point you toward two well-known learning communities: Galvanize and General Assembly.
General Assembly has 20 campuses for programs in web dev, UX design, and data science. Additionally, they boast an alumni network of over 40,000 and help place their recent graduates into industry positions. General Assembly’s 12-week web development bootcamp’s tuition is $13,950, and graduates can expect a starting salary between $65,000 and $85,000.
Galvanize maintains campuses in both Boulder and Austin – as well as 2 in Denver – and has full-stack web development and data science courses. Like General Assembly, Galvanize provides student support services and assists with job placement. Their $17,980 full-stack web development course takes 12 weeks at the Austin location. Galvanize Boulder offers an 18-week option for $18,000 as well as a 24-week program. The Austin program asks students to dedicate more hours to the classroom (including Saturdays) – hence Boulder’s longer courses. Boulder graduates have an 87% placement rate and an average starting salary of $70,221.
Final Thoughts on Coding Bootcamps
Code bootcamps can be a great starting point for making a career shift or for continuing on to a CS degree. We love that they have helped to increase the diversity of the software development job pool. However, 12 weeks mark only a starting point in programming education, and further skill development comes from grappling with challenges on the job.
As a result, big companies are often best prepared to handle the additional education that coding bootcamp graduates still require. They have a support system of experienced developers and can provide additional employee training. Most smaller operations don’t have the same extensive support system and tend to hire already experienced programmers.
That said, how you learned to code is less critical than building a portfolio with completed development projects. Bootcamps are a rigorous way to acquire development skills in a short time and can be a perfect launching point. If you’re considering a change, we’re happy to try and help point you in the right direction. Get in touch.