Are Coding Bootcamp Grads More Employable Than College Grads?

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  • Bootcamp grads have similar employment and salary outcomes as college graduates.
  • Coding bootcamps focus almost exclusively on developing hands-on tech skills.
  • A majority of bootcamp graduates find employment in the industry within a year.

If you want to move into a tech career, a coding bootcamp is a popular, valid option. Coding bootcamps teach the skills that tech employers want in 3-6 months. That's a much shorter timeframe than earning a two- or four-year degree. Data also shows that bootcamp grads are just as likely to get a tech industry job as college graduates.

The job market for coders, software developers, and testers remains strong. If you want to pursue tech but are unsure if you should enroll in a bootcamp or college, then keep reading to learn if and how a tech bootcamp can enhance your job prospects.

What Is a Coding Bootcamp?

Coding bootcamps teach hands-on coding, programming information technology and cybersecurity skills. Most full-time coding bootcamps are 12 weeks to six months long.

Bootcamps may offer in-person, virtual, or hybrid programs on a full or part-time schedule. The learning method may be synchronous, asynchronous, hybrid, or a blend of all three.

Regardless of the schedule, bootcamps have an academic structure. That means you'll have classes, homework, and lectures. You will also likely collaborate with other students. Here are some of the skills bootcamp students typically learn:

What Are Coding Bootcamps' Average Employment Rate and Starting Salary?

The coding bootcamp employment rate is about 79%.

This number is according to the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR). The CIRR is a nonprofit organization that independently reports on coding bootcamp student outcomes, job placement, and salaries.

So, here are the facts: Several variables affect your earning potential after graduating from a coding bootcamp. Your location, experience and education may all affect your salary. Coders without previous experience besides a bootcamp certificate may earn less. But, if you have a college degree and more professional experience, you may earn more over time.

CIRR-certified bootcamp Codesmith says that graduates of its part-time remote bootcamp earned a median annual salary of $125,000 within six months after graduation.

Additionally, a 2022 study by Gallup and digital education company 2U found that all of the 3,800 bootcamp grads they surveyed said they made more money after graduation. This change was regardless of the grad's race, gender, age, or whether they lived in an urban or rural area. The median salary one year after bootcamp graduation was $11,000 higher than what they reported earning the year they graduated, according to the survey.

How Does the Education of a Coding Bootcamp vs. Computer Science Degree Compare?

Coding and tech bootcamps focus on specific, practical, hands-on skills and project experiences. Many four-year degrees in computer science do too. But degrees also include more theoretical principles and historical perspectives in tech and coding. Colleges may require all students, especially first-time undergraduate students, to take classes in arts, humanities or social sciences, regardless of their major.

Coding bootcamps usually operate in a much shorter timeframe. But like a two or four-year degree, the length of time it takes you to complete the program depends on your schedule.

Coding bootcamps and computer science degrees also differ in cost. The average total cost of undergraduate enrollment at a four-year public school and living on campus was $26,000 for the 2020-2021 academic year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. A student who lives independently off campus and attends a public two-year school could pay nearly $20,000.

Here's a quick look at how coding bootcamps compare to a two or four-year degree:

Bootcamp Degree
Typical length 3-6 months 2-4 years
Learning Format In-person, hybrid and fully remote options available In-person, hybrid and fully remote options available
Program Content Hands-on skills and project-based learning focus Theoretical, skill, and project-based learning focus, along with general education or liberal arts courses
Average cost $13,580 $26,000 for bachelor's degree at a public school
Accredited? Only two at the moment. Most bootcamps are not accredited. Yes. Most public, private, and for-profit schools are accredited.

Do Coding Internships Make a Difference in Employability?

Coding internships have value whether you're a bootcamp enrollee or a degree-seeking computer science student. The benefits include demonstrating to potential employers that you have real-world experience working on a professional team.

As a coding intern, you'll work alongside experienced professionals and apply the skills and knowledge you learned in bootcamp or in college to real-world situations. Here are some of the tasks and experiences you'll likely have in coding internships:

  • Writing and debugging code
  • Providing feedback on UI and UX features
  • Assisting or leading special or long-term projects
  • Using code to develop apps

Participation in internships tends to improve employment prospects. For example, a 2019 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that about 53% of graduating seniors who applied for a full-time job received at least one offer. Within that group, 57.5% of students who had an internship received a job offer.

Are Coding Bootcamp Grads More Employable Than College Grads?

The short answer: Coding bootcamp grads have similar employment outcomes when compared to college graduates who earned a two or four-year computer science degree.

According to data derived from the CIRR, the average coding bootcamp graduate employment rate is 79% after 180 days. On the other hand, 68% of college grads with computer science degrees found jobs a year after graduation.

Essentially, these two paths have very similar outcomes. However, pursuing a bachelor's degree may have more long-term benefits than the short-term education of a bootcamp.

Another good thing to note is that some bootcamps also offer career support services. Others facilitate direct connections with employers. Some bootcamps even go as far as offering employment guarantees. They back up the guarantee by offering deferred tuition or even money-back guarantees if you don't get a job within a specified time frame.

Our takeaway: coding bootcamps can help you start or advance your technology career in less time than it takes to earn a degree. And top tech companies do hire bootcamp grads. But before you commit to a coding bootcamp, read the fine print to understand what to expect from the program.

Frequently Asked Questions About Coding Bootcamp Graduate Employment

Do employers like coding bootcamps?

Yes, employers usually view bootcamp grads favorably. A 2017 survey by Indeed found that 72% of employers thought bootcamp graduates were "just as prepared and likely to be high performers" in a job as people who have a computer science degree. That same survey also found that 12% of employers think bootcamp grads are likely to be high performers and even more prepared than someone with a computer science degree.

Which coding bootcamp has the highest employment rate?

New York City-based Codesmith reports that more than 89.4% of graduates were employed within six months after graduating in 2021. Just over 85% of graduates from Codesmith's Los Angeles location secured full-time employment in the tech industry within six months. And 87.5% of people who completed Codesmith's part-time program secured employment within 180 days.

What percentage of coding bootcamp graduates get jobs?

Over 70% of coding bootcamp graduates find employment in the industry after 180 days, according to CIRR data. Keep in mind that the graduate employment rate varies from program to program, and some do not offer career services. Make sure to research the bootcamp program and its offerings beforehand.

By comparison, just over 66% of people who graduate with a traditional computer science degree secure employment in the tech field.

Feature Image: Cavan Images / Cavan / Getty Images