Coding Bootcamp vs. C.S. Degree: What’s the Best Choice for Learning Programming and Development?

Are you happy with your career? If you’re not, then you’re not alone. According to a 2017 Gallup poll, as little as 15% of the world’s full-time working population are engaged in their jobs. And while that percentage is doubled for workers in the United States, the sad truth is that still leaves approximately 70% of the American full-time workforce dissatisfied with their current employment.

So, the question then is this: If you’re part of the 70%, then why not make a change? Acquiring new, in-demand skills can open up a world of new career options.

Get with the Programming

Software development, computer programming, web development, and other computer-related careers can be found across every industry, in nearly every part of the world.

Software development and related skills are more in demand then they’ve ever been, and that demand is climbing.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the decade between 2016 and 2026, employment of software developers is projected to grow 24%; that’s over three times the 7% expected average employment growth across all occupations. For those looking for something new, employment wise, there are few skills that open as many doors as those associated with programming.

Of course, before you can start putting out resumes, you need a way to acquire these in-demand skills, and that means training.

Schools of Thought

There are many different ways to acquire development skills. Massive online open courses and self teaching both offer coding education at little to no cost. However, they tend to lack personal one-on-one instruction, and they don’t produce any sort of certification. For those who want to turn coding skills into viable employment, the two best options are a college computer sciences degree, or certification from an independent coding bootcamp.

Most people are familiar with the idea of earning a college degree. Computer science programs follow the standard process, covering a variety of lab- and lecture-based classes. In addition to programming fundamentals and skills, you’ll also learn about theory, history, and modern practices. A college-level computer science program should provide a well-rounded programming education, spread out across several years (typically 2-4).

Coding bootcamp is the other option. Bootcamps offer accelerated courses focused on developing specific skills in a short amount of time. The bootcamps incorporate a significant amount of hands-on experience, and offer a variety of specialized courses, so students can develop the professional skills they’re most interested in.

If you want the kind of programming certification that lands jobs, these are your two best options. But while both of these paths lead to the same destination, they each take a different route to get there. So that you can make the best choice for your situation, let’s consider some of the coding bootcamp vs. C.S. degree pros and cons.

Coding Bootcamp vs. C.S. Degree

Coding Bootcamps

There are two major advantages when it comes to getting certification through a coding bootcamp. The first is that, as previously mentioned, coding bootcamps are extremely accelerated as compared to a traditional college education. As of 2017, the average course length for coding bootcamps was 14 weeks, (or about three and a half months). That incorporates everything from day one through certification. The second advantage is cost. The average coding-bootcamp tuition comes in at about $11,400—quite a bit less than the cost of pursuing a college degree. 

Other advantages include generally smaller classes, more one-on-one time with instructors, and a heavier emphasis on hands-on learning.

 

Of course, there are disadvantages as well. Perhaps the biggest one is that bootcamps offer certification, but not a degree. A C.S. degree may qualify you for a higher initial pay, and some employers consider college diploma a prerequisite for hiring. That said, alternative certification routes are becoming more respected, with 89% of employers believing that bootcamp graduates are just as prepared, or even more prepared, than degree holders. Still, there are doors that a degree will open, where a bootcamp certification will not.

C.S. Degree

Getting a degree in computer science has traditionally been the most effective route to a career in development and programming. And while new companies or organizations within the tech-sphere may be just as willing to hire bootcamp graduates, the more established, non-tech companies may still prefer degree holders.

Additionally, as previously mentioned, a C.S. Degree includes a greater variety of related courses. Students get a well-rounded education heavy on theory and related skills. This prepares them for a wider range of employment options as compared to the specialized training one receives from a coding bootcamp.

On the other hand, the time and cost associated with earning a degree is difficult to overlook—particularly is you’ve already earned a degree in another field and would like some additional training to increase your career prospects. For the 2017-2018 school year, it’s estimated that average cost of tuitions and fees to earn a degree comes out to $34,740 for private colleges, $9,970 for in-state residents at public colleges, and $25,620 for out-of-state residents at public universities. Likewise, a four-year degree is just that—a four-year time commitment. If you’re interested in switching careers, that may be time that you don’t have. 

Which Way to Go?

If you aren’t happy with your current career, of if you just want to explore your options, then computer programming and development may be the way to go. But which way should you go to get there, a C.S. degree or certification from a coding bootcamp?

The answer to this questions is largely personal, and may depend heavily on where you are in life, your financial situation, and your education history. Consider the pros and cons and determine what’s best for you. After all, it’s your future, and when it comes to coding bootcamp vs. C.S. degree, you’re the only one qualified to make the right choice.

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