Choosing between a college degree in IT and a coding bootcamp can be a tough choice. While one gives you in-depth understanding to broaden your educational horizons and is spread over a few years, the other is a short-term, intensive training program that equips you to land a job in a matter of weeks. And it’s fair to say that both programs have their fair share of pros and cons.

So, how does one decide between going to college or attending a bootcamp? There are many factors that one must consider before making up their mind on the kind of program they’d like to pursue. This article looks at all these aspects in detail to help you make the right move for your career.

  1. Program Duration
    A standout difference between a coding bootcamp and a tech degree program is the duration. A bachelor’s degree program usually takes four years to complete, and the master’s degree will add on another two years. A coding or programming bootcamp can compress all the required technical learning into 2 to 6 month programs. Numerous bootcamps also offer part-time programs, making it a more flexible option to learn and grow. If you want to gain expertise quickly in what is a very technical skillset, then a bootcamp would be the right choice. However, an online bootcamp will not be able to provide the foundations of computer science concepts or offer an in-depth understanding of advanced computing topics as holistically as a degree program can.
  2. Tuition Cost
    The cost of both programs differ greatly. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average tuition cost of a four-year undergraduate program in computer science is $16,300 per annum. On the other hand, a tuition fee for a coding or programming bootcamp program can range anywhere between $10,000 to $15,000, with programs lasting anywhere from 2 to 6 months. This means that you can get expert-level technical skills with a bootcamp, without having to spend a lot of money. Bootcamps also offer easy financing options such as tuition deferral plans or income share agreements, which reduce the burden of one-time payment on the student, and help them split the cost of tuition or postpone it after they complete the program and until they find a suitable job. College students, on the other hand, have federal financial aid such as grants, scholarships, and loans – options that are not available to bootcamp students as bootcamps do not hold the same accreditation as a college offering professional degrees.
  3. Salary Potential
    Coding bootcamps focus on providing intensive training in career search and skills, making it much easier to find and land technical jobs that pay well. Getting an entry level job that requires specialized skills, like coding or front-end development, becomes much easier once you finish a bootcamp. However, it is important to note that bootcamps, offline or online, are not sufficient if you want to climb the corporate ladder. If you chart out your career trajectory, you will notice skills like team management, coordination, and client interface are vital, and employers look for significant experience with prospective candidates who wish to take up a senior role. All these can only be built with a proper college degree. So weigh these factors before you zero in on the type of program you want to enroll in as it can affect your earning potential and career path for years to come.
  4. Curriculum
    Bootcamps open up some very specific career options as they really focus on in-depth technical skills required to carry out particular jobs. A college degree, on the other hand, offers holistic knowledge and know-how, helping you keep your career options wide open. The curriculum is spread over a number of years, giving you enough time to grasp concepts and understand your areas of interest, so that you can decide the field you want to pursue as a career or for further studies.
  5. Career Options
    Both coding/programming bootcamps as well as college degrees offer a plethora of career options for you to choose from. Many bootcamps also offer career coaching, help you build a solid resume, prepare for mock interviews, and portfolio reviews. Most of them also help you connect with a network of industry professionals and prospective employers. While most colleges also offer similar services, they may not be as focused. Career options common to both programs include web development, software engineering, and web or system analysis.
  6. To Sum It Up
    If you’re passionate about programming and want to build a career with your coding skills, take up a professional degree course and build a strong foundation of technical concepts before you step into the professional world. As the next step, when you want to learn specific skills related to coding, programming, or designing websites, then bootcamps are the right fit for you.