There is no substitute for self-motivation when it comes to success, particularly in the area of coding.
Most successful entrepreneurs and developers are autodidacts, that is, people who love learning and experimenting without the rules imposed by the workload and limited scope of a course.
Today, the market demand for developers is far greater than the amount of trained computer scientists graduating from accredited 4 year university programs. Coding bootcamps, intensive, accelerated learning programs, have conveniently filled the gap in recent years.
The Bootcamp Advantage
If academic institutions train students to become computer scientists and they continue on to be software developers, then coding bootcamps are a shortcut for this. Bootcamps have the advantage of defining the curriculum to the student’s advantage and popular ones usually teach the most practical technologies to place their graduates in employment.
Coding bootcamps have had such a success that observers wonder whether these programs are beginning to replace traditional computer science degrees. Aaron Skonnard, CEO of Pluralsight, points out that college degrees will soon be replaced by a new array of modern credentials that are more viable measures of learning ability and accomplishment. Perhaps the credibility that comes with traditional university programs and the stigma attached to those who do not complete such courses will ebb away for good.
Whether this happens or not, there certainly has been a drop in the number of computer science degrees followed by a rise in the number of bootcamps. It may also be that it is the existence of these academies what is causing the decrease in the number of degrees.
The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics published information that pointedly shows a drop in the percentage of bachelor’s degrees conferred in computer science within the last decade:
There is no data from the NCES published after 2013 and with the first bootcamps being founded in 2011 and 2012, the impact of these alternative courses is not noticeable.
Some bootcamps come at no charge but require a portion of a graduate’s first-year salary. Others charge tuition that can be as high as $1,500 or more per week for intensive immersion programs that last for eight to sixteen weeks. Federal student loans are not offered so far but Marco Rubio wishes for this to be otherwise.
Around the time that computer science degrees dropped was when the tech sector experienced its remarkable growth burst. Oddly enough, computer science degrees didn’t become more sought after even when the tech sector’s growth made the market for developers red hot.
Interest in coding bootcamps has grown and even those who graduated with a computer science come to update their skills in them. It’s safe to assume that the masses of bootcamp-goers come mostly from the group with prior coding experience, with a small amount of them being aspiring developers.
For those considering attending a bootcamp but who have no background in coding, developer job openings continue to grow at a tremendous rate and most of the people filling these positions don’t have formal 4 year training or even Associate Degree accreditation. In fact, as of 2014 only about two-thirds of STEM workers didn’t have a college degree at all.
Maybe it so happens that employers recognize hiring employees with the right aptitude and job history is more important than hiring those with degrees, as University courses can be deficient in applicable skills. Universities are not entirely to blame, for computer science is a constantly-evolving field where innovations happen every few minutes.
This doesn’t mean that those with 4 year STEM degrees should worry, for companies like Google and Apple still need software engineers with depth of knowledge in their field and prefer those with this educational foundation. It is unlikely that the value of obtaining a STEM degree will go away entirely anytime soon.
As for the self-taught who are considering attending a bootcamp, the recent shift towards these programs has many critics clamoring for (and inciting) them to push for better quality and standards of accreditation to protect students against scams and to secure future employment.
It may seem like a smart move for a bootcamp to partner with an accredited University to offer credit. The partnering institution could function as a channel to acquire more bootcamp students.
The problem with this solution is that forming University partnerships gives access to educational regulations and even federal student loans. Although many bootcamps are currently low cost and offer some type of financial support for their students, opening the backdoor for federal student loans will bring a whole slew of problems.
It’s not certain that accreditation will actually have an impact on the quality of coding bootcamps. But if the demand for software development continues to be greater than the supply, there will continue to be a space for bootcamps and their graduates to thrive.