Do you want to become a coder, but you aren’t sure what the best path to achieve your dream is?
Well, there are two main routes you can take to learn the skills you need to be a professional coder: you can attend a college or university to earn a computer science/coding degree, or you can go to a coding/computer science bootcamp.
When trying to decide between a coding bootcamp vs college, there are many factors to consider that can help you make your decision. The big ones are the length of time, the cost, the curriculum, and the career prospects of each option.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about coding bootcamp vs degree programs at colleges and universities.
How To Apply For Coding Bootcamp
In order to apply for coding Bootcamp, you’ll need to start by searching online for coding bootcamps in your area. There are also 100% online coding bootcamps that you can attend from anywhere.
Most coding bootcamps offer free in-person or virtual informational sessions that you can attend to learn more about them and make sure they’re a good fit for you. Once you find a prospective Bootcamp you want to attend, you usually just have to apply on their site.
Since coding and computer science bootcamps can be high in demand (they usually accept only about 5-20% of applicants), the application will ask questions to help the program leaders identify the best candidates.
3 Examples Of coding Bootcamp Application Questions:
- Why are you applying to this Bootcamp?
To effectively answer a question like this, try to show that you’ve done your research on the particular Bootcamp you’re applying to. Give a specific reason for why you chose that Bootcamp over other ones to set yourself apart from other candidates.
For instance, you might say you heard about the Bootcamp from a friend or read a good review of the program online.
- Do you have any previous coding experience?
Previous knowledge of coding is not a requirement to attend a Bootcamp program, but it can help. Whether you took computer science classes in high school, attended another coding course, or just taught yourself some coding online, make sure to mention everything.
If you have any examples of coding work you’ve done, such as a website you built for yourself or someone else, include links to those as well.
- Why do you want to become a coder?
This is your chance to explain why attending coding Bootcamp is so important to you. Choose a reason that is meaningful — don’t just say something like: “I want to make a lot of money.”
A better answer would be something along the lines of: “I like to solve complex problems and want to do it for a living.” Or, you might say something like: “I aspire to build software programs and apps.”
Besides the above examples of coding Bootcamp application questions, you’ll have to provide other standard application information about your past educational/professional experience. You may also be asked a couple of problem-solving-type questions.
It’s a good idea to apply for a few different coding bootcamps that appeal to you. That way, if you don’t get accepted to your first choice, you have some backups.
What Are The Pros and Cons Of Coding Bootcamp?
One of the most attractive things about Bootcamp is the cost. Not only is it much cheaper than earning a degree, but Bootcamp programs often offer flexible payment options like tuition deferral or income share agreements.
Tuition deferral means that you don’t have to pay until you finish the program and find a job. Income sharing means that you pay a small fee upfront, then you pay a portion of your salary back to the program once you start working in your first job as a coder.
Another benefit of coding bootcamps is that they are only going to teach you the most job-relevant skills. Since the programs are so short, the focus is on the most current coding technologies that you will use in an entry-level programming job.
Speaking of program length, bootcamps are usually 3-6 months long, so you can learn the skills you need to enter the workforce in much less time than if you attend a college or university to get a coding degree. There are even faster programs that last as little as 8-10 weeks!
Since the cost and time commitment are less than getting a degree, coding Bootcamp is a great option if you already have a different degree and want to learn new skills or change careers.
Going back to college for another 4 years might not be very realistic if you want to change fields, but a 6-month program that lets you enter a new career field when you finish definitely is!
Pros of Coding Bootcamp:
- Affordable, flexible payment options
- Very up-to-date curriculum
- Relatively short compared to degree programs
- Good choice if you already have a different career or degree
- Can easily qualify you for entry-level coding jobs
All those pros are sure making Bootcamp sound great, aren’t they? But it’s important to understand its cons as well before you make a decision between going to coding bootcamp vs college.
For starters, if money is tight, you won’t be able to get the same financial assistance to attend a Bootcamp as you would to go to college. Since coding bootcamps are not accredited as educational institutions, financial aid programs don’t apply to them.
Also, if you want to gain a broader understanding of computers (not just job skills) a computer science degree program is going to cover much more ground than a coding bootcamp program.
You’ll be equally qualified for entry-level jobs with a CS degree, but a degree might make it easier to climb the corporate ladder down the road in your career. This is something to consider if you aspire to be a manager or an executive someday.
One last thing that you should make sure you understand before signing up for a coding Bootcamp is any fine print related to their flexible payment options.
For example, tuition deferral or income sharing agreements might stipulate that you accept the first job you find, which might not always be the best one for you. So, you could end up working somewhere less-than-ideal until you pay off what you owe for the program.
Cons of Coding Bootcamp:
- Financial aid options are limited
- Narrower focus than a computer science degree
- Payment options might have inconvenient strings attached
- It Maybe harder to climb the ranks in employment without a CS degree
When you’re doing research on different bootcamps and degrees, make sure to keep these pros and cons of coding bootcamp vs degree programs in mind to help make your decision easier.
Coding Bootcamp vs College: How Much Does It Cost?
If money is your biggest concern when you’re trying to decide between coding bootcamp vs degree programs, bootcamp is definitely the more affordable option.
The average coding bootcamp costs somewhere from $10,000-$20,000 upfront, whereas computer science and coding degree programs, can cost as much as $20,000 per semester, depending on what institution you attend.
Whether you choose a 2-, 4-, or 6-year degree program (most are 4), the cost definitely adds up. If you opt for Bootcamp, you will pay a big chunk of change upfront (or after), but then you’re done paying.
Coding Bootcamp vs Degree: How Is a Computer Science Degree Different?
Besides the higher cost and the bigger time commitment it takes to get a computer science degree, the main difference between a CS degree and a coding Bootcamp is the scope of what you learn.
Coding bootcamps are much more focused on the most current, relevant job skills for coders. On the other hand, computer science degree programs usually have a broader scope that covers the theory behind and, well, the science of computers.
Whatever route you decide to take, you can be confident that your job prospects in the tech industry will be good.
On average, people who attend a Bootcamp earn about $60,000-$70,000 a year when they enter the field. Those who have a CS degree can earn anywhere from $50,000-$106,000.
As you can see, this is not a huge difference, so you shouldn’t let how much money you’re going to make in an entry-level coding job influence your decision. The cost, time commitment, and curriculum are more important things to consider.
What are the components of a coding bootcamp curriculum?
The curriculum in coding bootcamp and coding degree programs can vary widely, but coding bootcamps typically focus almost entirely on web development and major programming languages.
Coding Bootcamp Curriculum Topic Examples:
- Full-stack web development
- Career development coaching (i.e. how to market your skills and get a coding job)
For comparison, computer science degree programs teach you about web development and coding languages, as well as additional subjects like mathematics, algorithms, computer science theory, and operating system design.
Do I Need a CS Degree To Be a Coder?
Don’t worry about whether or not you’ll be able to get a job in coding after completing a coding Bootcamp. You definitely can! These days, a computer science degree is not a requirement to become a coder.
In fact, 4-year degrees, in general, are going to become less and less important in the tech industry (and all career fields for that matter). The important thing is whether or not you have the skills to do the job, and coding Bootcamp can definitely teach you those!
There are even many employers that have relationships with coding bootcamps and like to hire recent graduates from them.
In a recent survey by Indeed, almost 90% of employers surveyed stated that they considered coding Bootcamp graduates to be just as qualified to work for them (or even more so) as people who hold CS degrees.
Coding Bootcamp vs College: Which Way Should You Go?
By now you know that both a coding bootcamp accreditation and a CS degree can provide you with the skills and qualifications you need to get a great job as a coder.
Ultimately, you will need to weigh the pros and cons of coding bootcamp and compare them to those of a computer science degree program to make a decision. Cost, time commitment, and curriculum should be the big considerations you make.
Something else to consider is how you prefer to learn. Coding bootcamps are much more fast-paced and hands-on. So, if you like to learn by doing, Bootcamp might be the right choice for you.
However, if you’re more of a traditional learner, you might appreciate a CS degree program’s more traditional approach and curriculum. You’ll have more standard coursework including lectures, labs, lesson plans, and tests.
Another thing you should think about is your career goals and what you want to ultimately achieve as a coder. If you want to join a big tech company and work your way up to management or higher, a CS degree may help you do that.
On the other side of the coin, if you just want to dive right into work as a coder, or if you want to found a startup or develop your own apps, a coding Bootcamp is going to give you the skills you need to do it in a much shorter amount of time.
After reading this article, we hope you’ve gained a better understanding of the differences between coding bootcamp and computer science degree programs. Whatever you end up choosing, you’re sure to have a bright future in coding!
Also, read the advantages of learning coding.