There are many considerations in choosing between a coding bootcamp versus earning a computer science degree. Learning to code is the first step for those looking to join a growing and limitless industry, but the path forward doesn’t necessarily mean going to college for a computer science degree – future web developers now have the option of attending coding bootcamps.
What is a coding bootcamp?
Similar to how military bootcamps train civilians to be service members in just a few months, coding bootcamps teach the fundamentals of software development in just a few weeks.
These highly specialized bootcamps are designed to help individuals start a new, tech-focused career by teaching the most important aspects of coding and immediately applying that knowledge to solve real-world problems. Think of coding bootcamps as vocational training schools – as such, they are focused primarily around teaching you practical and applicable skills. Students will learn some general programming information along with the most up-to-date web-programming technologies needed in the market. Additionally, students have the opportunity to work as a team to solve problems – a valuable soft skill in the tech industry. All in all, students who attend coding bootcamps are well-versed in the fundamentals of how to code, have practical experience with software development, and have knowledge of the latest technology at their fingertips.
What does a computer science degree offer?
A computer science degree typically takes about four years to obtain and at least $40,000 over the course of that same time frame.
Though the price tag and time commitment may seem steep, the additional investment in learning about computer science means that students gain a deeper knowledge of the field. Where coding bootcamps are built to teach you how to immediately apply your knowledge in the real-world, a computer science degree teaches established programming practices and why operating systems and computers work the way that they do. One major advantage of knowing the “why” of the science of computers is the ability to scale and better understand source problems. A disadvantage is that computer science graduates sometimes don’t have that practical real-world knowledge and application – skills like working in a team and having the most up-to-date information – that bootcamp students receive.
The curriculum covered in computer science courses includes: programming in Java, programming in C++, operating system design, computer science theory, advanced mathematics, and algorithms.
Which makes you more employable?
That depends on your potential employer and your goals. Simply having a certification from a coding bootcamp certainly makes you employable. But, if your goal is to become the VP of engineering at a large organization, a computer science degree will better help your career as four-year degrees are still looked upon more favorably when evaluating candidates for leadership roles. Is your goal to work at a startup? Then a coding bootcamp will help you land the job as startups tend to prefer candidates who are self-taught and have an entrepreneurial spirit. Coding bootcamps will also give you the skills needed to build your app, website, or tool if your goal is to launch your own startup.
Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to choose one or the other. Many industry experts agree that having both a computer science degree and attending a coding bootcamp provides a more well-rounded education when put together. If you’re interested in starting a career in software development, you can get your computer science degree and then join a bootcamp after graduation while you’re looking for jobs or join a bootcamp, find employment, and go to school while you’re working.
When it comes to salaries, both computer science and coding bootcamp graduates can expect to make around $65,000 per year as an entry-level employee according to GlassDoor.com. As far as job descriptions are concerned, computer science graduates often become software applications developers, computer systems analysts, and web developers while bootcamp graduates find themselves in the role of software engineer, web developer, and front-end web developers.
Computer Science Degree Strengths/Weaknesses
Strengths: Math foundation, well rounded education in other fields, more GI Bill options, greater job opportunities, better positioned for career growth, internship opportunities
Weaknesses: Higher Cost, longer time commitment, often behind the curve with technologies, limited on web development
Coding Bootcamp Strengths/Weaknesses
Strengths: Lower cost, coding immersion, job support, short time commitment, enter industry quicker
Weaknesses: Less math and other educational building blocks, limited learning development
Summary of Considerations
- Education Cost
- Time Commitment
- Job Opportunities & Career Growth
- Future earnings
Does the G.I. Bill cover coding bootcamps?
Yes, but only at approved coding schools. The Forever G.I. Bill has launched a 5-year pilot program for veterans to enroll in high technology courses including coding bootcamps. View the list of eligible coding bootcamps here.
Kristen Baker-Geczy is a communications specialist, active duty military spouse, and former MWR marketing coordinator. She was also deployed to Southwest Asia as an Air Force contractor.
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