Coding bootcamps offer ambitious individuals the opportunity to learn new tech skills without the cost and hassle of earning a degree from a university. With that said, how effective are these courses and how do they stack up to university degrees?
Due to the demand for programmers and the high cost of university tuition, coding bootcamps are becoming increasingly popular. For example, the number of students that completed one of these programs in 2017 was about 10 times higher than in 2013 in the United States and Canada. These programs are also popping up in Singapore, but are they actually worth your time and money?
What Do Coding Bootcamps Offer and How Much Do They Cost?
Because bootcamp courses vary in their depth and breadth, they also vary in duration and cost. For instance, some introductory coding classes meet for just a few hours a week and cost only a few hundred dollars, while immersive courses can require 400 to 600 hours of class time over several months and cost as much as S$15,000.
How Effective Are These Bootcamps?
A study by U.S. employment search engine Indeed found that 84% of employers surveyed believed that bootcamp graduates are equally or better prepared than candidates with computer science degrees. Additionally, Singapore's most popular coding bootcamps advertise very high employment rates for their recent graduates of about 90% to 95%.
Furthermore, these bootcamps can provide individuals with important skills that allow them to pursue exciting and high-paying jobs. In fact, many entry-level programming jobs pay about as much, if not more, than the median income for all full-time positions in Singapore.
How Do Coding Bootcamps Compare to University Degrees in Computer Science?
As the tech industry continues to require employees that can code, computer science degrees are becoming increasingly popular for undergraduate students in Singapore. For example, the number of students graduating from NUS with degrees in computer science more than doubled from 102 in 2013 to 235 in 2017.
However, the cost of a computer science degree can be prohibitive for low-income students or individuals who want to learn new coding skills but are already saddled with student loan debt. For example, even with a tuition grant subsidy, tuition fees for a computer science degree at a local university typically cost about S$8,200 to S$13,050 per year.
These degrees can cost even more for international students in Singapore or at schools overseas. Therefore, 4-year computer science degrees end up being much more expensive and time intensive than a coding bootcamps.
However, there are several reasons that a student might prefer a university degree to a coding bootcamp. First of all, bootcamps often require that students meet prerequisites for their advanced courses. For individuals that are completely new to coding or even advanced math, this may mean many additional hours of coursework just to be eligible for their preferred bootcamp that can help them find jobs.
Additionally, bootcamps typically focus on one subject area, which could be insufficient for a job with many responsibilities and limit their career mobility. In contrast, computer science degrees tend to offer exposure to a wide range of programming language as well as other topics including management and economics.
This can mean that university degrees may better prepare students for more advanced positions throughout the course of their career, while bootcamps are effective at quickly training students for a few specific skills and tasks. Students that want a more comprehensive educational experience should steer towards a 4-year degree instead of a bootcamp.
How to Decide? Consider Your End Goal
A coding bootcamp is a great option for individuals that want to learn a specific set of programming of skills. It can also be much cheaper and faster than pursuing a 4-year degree in computer science. With that said, it is not a direct substitute for a university degree and those who want a more comprehensive education should consider a full computer science degree.
Additionally, while there are indications that bootcamps can lead to great jobs, they are still relatively unproven. If you are considering a coding bootcamp, you should first understand which type of jobs you would be qualified for after finishing your program. To do this, it is helpful to check online job postings or even reach out to a professional recruiter or a friend who works in the type of role that interests you.
Ultimately, coding bootcamps are a great option for individuals that already have a university degree and are seeking to acquire or upgrade their coding skills to pursue a new job, but not necessarily for those that need to build a wide range of fundamental skills to launch their career to its full potential.
This was first published at Value Penguin's website, "Are Coding Bootcamps Worth Your Time and Money?".