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Woman wearing black and purple graduation cap and gown. Coding Bootcamp vs College

Which Is Better: Coding Bootcamp or College Degree?

Determining if a coding bootcamp is sufficient for your career rather than a traditional four-year degree can be difficult. Bootcamp graduates try to convince you college isn’t worth it, while a college student would tell you the exact opposite. In this article, we will compare the two and what they will do for your career in the tech industry.

What Is a Coding Bootcamp?

A coding bootcamp is similar to a trade school, but the training focuses on the skills needed to become a software engineer, data scientist, or another career in tech. As a bootcamp student, you would spend a few weeks to a few months studying the hard and soft skills specific to your career goal.

Typical bootcamps offer a variety of programs, ranging from software engineering and data science to UX design and digital marketing. You can join a full-time or part-time bootcamp depending on your schedule. 

Coding bootcamps tend to give graduates a deeper understanding of the subject of study, as well as a stronger grasp of the practical skills needed to succeed in the tech industry. Overall, coding bootcamps offer an in-depth education for specific tech-related careers.

Can You Get a Job with a Coding Bootcamp?

The short answer is “yes”. Nowadays, you can definitely get a job with a coding bootcamp education. There is a common misconception that coding bootcamps are not as good as four-year degrees. This may have been the case years ago, but the mindsets of tech companies are changing drastically.

While a computer science degree can get you a full-time job as a software developer, many big tech companies are starting to prefer bootcamp grads with a certificate in software development. In fact, it is often easier to find employmeƒnt in the tech industry with a coding bootcamp education than with a college degree. 

What Are the Benefits of a College Degree?

College graduates enjoy a lot of benefits that bootcamp grads do not. For instance, many big tech companies still prefer to hire college graduates over bootcamp students. Generally speaking, college and university graduates often have an easier time meeting the education requirements listed in the job description.

A graduate from a computer science degree program also has a leg up on a bootcamp student because of how broad the university curriculum tends to be. Bootcamps dive into very specific subjects, while college degrees tend to cover a wide variety of topics. This prepares college students for the best tech careers rather than for one specific job title.

Should You Go to Community College?

Community colleges get a bad reputation, but they can be quite useful career-wise. When pursuing an undergraduate degree, the average cost of tuition at a community college is often significantly less than that of a university. This allows you to save money while you study.

Lower-cost classes also allow for a bit more freedom in choosing your career path. You can take more classes for less at a community college, which gives you the opportunity to explore other tech-related career fields beyond the basic data science and software engineering paths. Going to a community college may not be for everyone, but we recommend it for those looking to earn an associate degree that can be completed in two years.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Path

There are benefits and downsides to both coding bootcamp certificates and college degrees. If you are on the fence, take the following factors into account. This will help you determine your priorities and which option suits you better.

Cost

The average tuition costs of coding bootcamps are typically much lower than the average cost of a four-year degree program. EducationData reports that the average cost of college is $35,720 per year. The average cost of an entire coding bootcamp, on the other hand, is $12,898 for online programs and $13,584 for in-person, according to NerdWallet.

Time

Coding bootcamps are typically much more time-efficient than college degrees. Some coding bootcamps can be completed in a matter of weeks, while others require just a few months of your time. 

On the other hand, an associate degree typically takes two years to complete, while you can expect to spend around four years for a bachelor’s degree. As you can see, a bootcamp is the ideal option for those looking for a more hands-on and intensive learning style. 

Employer Perspective

The debate over whether employers place more value on a coding bootcamp certificate or a four-year degree has been raging for years. Employers used to prefer candidates with college degrees, but this is changing. Nowadays, many a tech company seeks out bootcamp alumni due to the more specific education they receive.

Curriculum

If you have a very specific career goal in mind, then a coding bootcamp curriculum is probably better fitted to your needs. University degrees tend to be broader and cover many general education subjects that may be of little use to you given your career goals.

Coding bootcamps, on the other hand, strive to help bootcamp students launch a certain career and become successful. The curriculum at a coding bootcamp is much more specific to your goals and goes much more in-depth than most degree programs. You will gain hands-on experience while studying coding skills and career-specific hard and soft skills.

Future Education

Both coding bootcamps and college degrees allow you to continue your education. If you earn a coding bootcamp certificate, you can follow this up either with more coding bootcamp education or by attending a college or university. 

If you earn a four-year degree from a college, you can next pursue an advanced degree, such as a master’s or PhD. As you can see, whether you choose to attend a coding bootcamp or pursue a degree at university, you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to advancing your education.

Coding Bootcamp vs College Degree Comparison

Four people using laptops together at a wooden table. Coding Bootcamp vs College
Most coding bootcamps offer a faster learning experience than typical degree programs.

There is a wide variety of coding bootcamps out there. Likewise, there is a plethora of college degrees you can pursue. These days, you can even teach yourself any tech skill by doing your own research and taking courses online. None of these paths are necessarily better or worse than the others, but it is important to see how they compare before making your decision.

Coding Bootcamp vs Associate Degree

When you enroll in a coding bootcamp, you can expect to spend roughly 14 to 16 weeks studying to earn your certificate. An associate degree, on the other hand, takes roughly two years to complete and tends to be the first step in a student’s college education journey. 

A coding bootcamp curriculum is more narrow in scope, focusing exclusively on the skills and technologies you need to launch the career of your choice. The curriculum of an associate degree, however, is more general. Although you will learn basic and advanced concepts in your chosen field of study, you will also have to take general education classes. 

Coding bootcamp graduates have access to a wide range of roles, including intermediate and mid-level positions. An associate degree, on the other hand, will prepare you almost exclusively for entry-level roles. As a rule of thumb, once you earn your associate degree, you will have to complete a bachelor’s degree if you want access to more senior positions in the tech industry.

Coding Bootcamp vs Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree takes roughly four years to complete. These degrees offer a comprehensive education that includes general education requirements, elective courses, and the core courses of your specific major. 

The best coding bootcamps, on the other hand, offer a deep dive into a specific tech field. These programs focus exclusively on the skills necessary to enter the workforce and have a successful career. 

While many companies still favor college graduates over bootcamp students, the mindset is quickly changing. More and more companies are choosing to hire bootcamp graduates because they have been thoroughly trained on the skills and technologies they need in the workplace.

Coding Bootcamp vs Online Courses

In the tech industry, it is extremely common for people to begin their careers with no formal education. There are thousands of online tech courses that anyone can sign up for. Many are offered through platforms such as Udemy and Udacity. You can even find standalone courses offered by the best universities around the world on platforms like edX or Coursera. Many of these courses are free while others charge a very affordable fee.

Online courses won’t probably impress potential employers, but they will teach you the basics and even some advanced concepts of whatever subject you are learning. These online courses are fantastic for beginners. They can also help you prepare for an intensive bootcamp program or a degree.

Best Jobs Without a College Degree

The following table contains 10 of the best tech-related jobs you can get without a college degree. Many require only a high school diploma. For others, you may need at least a coding bootcamp certificate.

Career Title Minimum Education Average Salary
Software Architect Bootcamp Certificate or Equivalent Industry Experience $125,944
DevOps Engineer High School Diploma + Industry Experience and/or DevOps Certification $96,624
Data Scientist Bootcamp Certificate $96,481
IT Manager High School Diploma + Industry Experience $88,759
Software Engineer Bootcamp Certificate $87,598
UX Designer High School Diploma + Industry Experience $74,788
Mobile App Developer Bootcamp Certificate $72,799
Data Analyst Bootcamp Certificate $61,822
Web Developer High School Diploma $60,307
Quality Assurance Analyst CSQA Certification $56,053

Is a Bootcamp or College Right for You?

Everyone has their own idea of what the best education path is, but the truth is that there isn’t a single path that works for everyone. If you are someone who enjoys flexibility, quick results, and an intensive program of study, we recommend looking into coding bootcamps rather than pursuing a four-year degree.

However, if you appreciate traditional education, want a broader curriculum, and don’t mind studying for a few years, colleges are a fantastic option. There are plenty of great tech colleges, such as Michigan State and Massuchassets Institute of Technology (MIT) that will impress tech companies.

Either way, it is important to take your time when choosing an education path. Consider the pros and cons of a coding bootcamp education and a college degree and how each option meets your career goals. Try not to stress yourself out too much over making this decision, but put some thought into it.

Coding Bootcamp vs College FAQ


Do I need a college degree to attend a coding bootcamp?

Not at all. Most coding bootcamps welcome complete beginners or those with only limited knowledge of the subject. A college degree is certainly not necessary to gain admission into most coding bootcamps.


Is a coding bootcamp a good investment?

Some coding bootcamps can be a bit pricey, but even the most expensive ones are cheaper than attending a university. If you want to learn the technical skills needed for a specific tech career, a coding bootcamp is definitely worth it. In addition, most tech bootcamps offer services like career coaching to help students land a job quickly.


Are coding bootcamps good for beginners?

Tech bootcamps are great for beginners. Many bootcamps offer prep courses for little to no cost. Others start off with the basics to ensure everyone can follow along. Bootcamp instructors work closely with the students to ensure all of them can succeed regardless of their knowledge and experience.


Do employers prefer coding bootcamp certificates or college degrees?

It depends. Some employers prioritize skill over educational credentials and are happy to hire bootcamp graduates because they have been thoroughly trained on the skills used in the job. Other companies, however, place a lot of importance on a student’s educational background and prefer candidates with bachelor’s or master’s degrees.

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