Fine Print

Coding Bootcamp or College?

Jackson Carr
June 23, 2023
5 min read

Having trouble deciding if a coding bootcamp is a good alternative to a traditional 4-year degree? There are several factors to consider when making the decision to take a coding bootcamp: the cost, value of the skills you will gain, and how much time you are able to commit to learning.

Here’s the breakdown.

Coding bootcamps will take you anywhere from 3 to 12 months to complete; they're intensive, but they teach you very practical, applicable, up-to-date skills that give you a very valuable skillset. They often also augment that training with career coaching and resources that assist you in landing your job after graduating. Where a college degree in and of itself carries a certain amount of clout in society, bootcamp grads will be required to showcase their skills – not their diplomas – in order to impress recruiters or clients. CS degrees are around 4 years long, cover in-depth theoretical material, teach you established programming practices, and provide you with a degree to show for it, but you will still need to prove your skills in a technical interview. Coding bootcamps cost between $10,000-$20,000 all up front, whereas CS degrees can cost up to $20,000 per semester.


When it comes to cost, bootcamps have a traditional degree beat by a landslide. The average cost of an in-person coding bootcamp is around $11,906. Online bootcamps are slightly less expensive at$11,118. The typical bootcamp graduate has an average salary increase of 50.5% or $23,724. A degree from a top computer science program in the United States ranges about$60,000-$70,000 per year. Although there are universities with tuitions under$20,000, cost of living and additional material fees add to how much money you’d be spending over the course of several years. A student taking a part-time bootcamp can graduate in several months and still have a full-time job earning an income. In the time it would take a student to get through one semester of college, a bootcamp student can develop the skills to graduate as developers and enter the job market earning $60-$70k upon graduation.

Return on Investment

The cost of a coding bootcamp may seem high for such a short duration program, but it's important to consider your long-term goals and potential outcomes in order to accurately assess your ROI.

While the job market may be tough to navigate for a traditional college graduate, most coding graduates find a job within three months of graduation due to the demand for programming skills. Coding bootcamps thrive on their job placement rates, so it’s just as important for schools to place their graduates as it is for their alumni to start their new jobs in the tech industry.

Time-wise, coding bootcamps come out on top with regards to ROI since students are only investing a couple of months instead of several years.

Financially, average starting salaries vary for the role you're in – bootcamp grads in web development may make a bit less than CS graduates that are in a different subset of software engineering; however, a CS graduate that's a web developer will make the same as a bootcamp grad – but it's taken them four years to arrive at the same destination as the bootcamp grad. In the time it takes a CS student to graduate, a bootcamp graduate can potentially work their way to a more senior level position and earn significantly more than an entry-level CS graduate.

When it comes to ROI, bootcamps take less time, are less expensive than a traditional degree program, and they can offer the same outcome.

Time Commitment

If you are looking to launch your career as a developer as soon as possible, coding bootcamps are the best possible option to do so. You will learn the skills you need to be career ready through hands on training in a very short amount of time compared to a four year degree.

Can you really learn the skills you need to be a developer in just a few short weeks? Absolutely. In fact, more big name companies like IBM, Google, and Apple are looking to hire applicants with skills over credentials. While a four year degree may give you more theory and in-depth knowledge via traditional study, if you learn by doing and benefit from hands-on, project-based learning, then a coding bootcamp is a better option. The time it takes for a bootcamp student to work through a program and land a job usually takes less than half the time it would take a college student to earn their degree.

Career Outlook

Either graduating from a coding bootcamp or with a CS degree from a university is very valuable in today’s job market and will continue to be as the demand for developers increases. There are a wide range of industries and job settings graduates can find themselves in. Whether it’s at a major corporation, working at a startup, or launching our own business, there are plenty of jobs to be filled. The software development field will grow by about 30 percent by 2026, with 253,400 jobs added by that time.

If you are ready to take the next step towards a career in software development, start your personal admissions process for our Catalyst program today.

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