Nowadays, it feels like every tech sphere has its own bootcamp: software engineering, data science, quality assurance, and even drone coding. So, if you’ve ever felt like pursuing a career in tech, you've definitely heard of bootcamps.
Unlike conventional educational programs, these bootcamps are able to fast-track you into the profession of your choosing. They provide intense, immersive training that achieves results in a matter of months, rather than years.
However, with so much buzz around bootcamps, many myths and misconceptions about them also arise. This article explains what a bootcamp really is, listing the top five myths about bootcamps, and why they’re an aid, not an obstacle, on your way to a new career.
We also share success stories from our graduates to further boost your confidence about breaking into tech. So, let's dive in and separate fact from fiction!
What a coding bootcamp is — and what it isn’t
Simply put, a bootcamp is a short-term, intensive training program designed to teach you the skills required for a job in tech.
There are some key differences between bootcamps and conventional college degrees or online courses.
The first difference is time. While earning a college degree in computer science might take four years or more, a bootcamp can be completed in several months. For example, our online Software Engineering bootcamp takes 10 months.
Secondly, bootcamps tend to be more immersive and hands-on than traditional education. They provide plenty of opportunities to use the practical skills you’ll need in your actual job and (usually) don’t delve too deep into theory. For example, in Practicum, the learning process is divided into sprints — periods of two to three weeks in which students work towards a tangible outcome. Most tech companies work in sprints, so you'll show up prepared. Each sprint caps off with a project that will be reviewed, line by line, by a data professional.
Let’s now learn what bootcamps are not.
Firstly, bootcamps are not a magic bullet. While they are a faster path into tech, they still require a significant amount of time and effort. Some full-time bootcamp students will have to put in 40 hours or more a week to complete the program.
Secondly, a bootcamp is not a degree. This is not to say they are worse than a conventional college education — they’re simply two different things. Bootcamps are usually more intensive and focus on practice rather than theory, while universities provide a broader understanding of fundamentals and offer a more slow-paced learning environment. So, it’s up to you to decide which route best fits your needs.
Finally, a bootcamp is not a guarantee of success. While they can provide you with a strong foundation in coding and tech skills, these are not the only things you’ll need to land a job in tech. Soft skills like communication, teamwork, and problem-solving abilities are also must. At Practicum, we provide career coaching and interview preparation programs that will help you secure a job.
Myth 1: After my bootcamp, I’ll still need a degree to transition into tech
Even after graduating from a bootcamp, many people think that they need a college degree to start their professional career. And while there are still employers that require a diploma from candidates, this trend has been declining.
Many top companies, such as Tesla, Apple, and IBM, don’t require a computer science degree for technical roles. Moreover, according to Career Karma, major players like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft demonstrated a steady growth in the number of hired bootcampers throughout 2019–2020. And the cherry on top: Amazon showed a 120.9% growth of its bootcamper hires within the same timeframe. This must mean that the company is extremely happy with the skills of its new employees.
According to Indeed, 72% of employers surveyed think that bootcamp grads are "just as prepared and likely to be high performers as candidates with computer science degrees." And 12% think that bootcampers are even "more prepared and more likely to be high performers."
A recent Course Report study claims that bootcamp students with no college degree are reporting a very positive 77% salary lift (to approx. $62,000) after graduation. Moreover, the study reports that, while 78% of bootcampers had at least a bachelor's degree in 2017, that figure dropped to 74% by 2020.
We’ve given you some links and cold numbers to crunch on. But to really convince you that you don’t need a specific background or education to break into tech, we have some feedback from our graduates.
For example, check out Jake’s story. He studied psychology for four years, with a minor in entrepreneurship, and worked as a wilderness therapist after graduating. In 2020, he decided to learn coding and joined Practicum's bootcamp. Twelve months later, he graduated as a software engineer.
Jake always wanted to work somewhere he felt he could do some good for the world, helping people and building products. After a couple of interviews, he landed a job in Zencare, a website that helps people find a good therapist.
Jake’s story represents Practicum’s overall sentiment: if you want to code, perseverance and passion for discovery are a must — not a degree.
Myth 2: I need to allocate a specific time during the week to attend classes, and I simply don’t have it
Many of those interested in a tech career believe they just won’t have the time to attend classes at a bootcamp. This is a common misconception, as many bootcamps offer flexible scheduling options and online programs to accommodate students' busy lives.
For example, Practicum's bootcamps offer a self-paced learning environment, which means that students can choose their own schedule. Our standard approach is that a bootcamper should be able to allocate 20 hours per week for studying. Based on our experience, this amount of workload is just enough to maintain the required pace for learning without making the course overly long, or overburdening students who have other commitments, such as work or family.
You can check out the story of Chukwuemeka, who graduated from our data science bootcamp. He specialized in chemical engineering, but decided to switch careers and started our 8-month part-time online course. Chuk purposely chose the longer, part-time option to enjoy a more relaxed learning pace than the one offered with the full-time option. As a result, he acquired the skills that helped him secure the position of machine learning engineer at Leidos.
If a bootcamper chooses a slower path, but misses some classes, they can still get all the help they need. Practicum's bootcamps offer a range of support options, such as tutoring and access to a community of like-minded people pursuing a career in tech. So, we’ve got you covered, even if you’re slightly falling behind.
Other bootcamps, such as General Assembly and Flatiron School, also offer flexible scheduling options, including part-time and full-time programs, as well as online and in-person courses. This allows students to choose the format that works best for their schedule and learning style.
Given the above, we hope that you now understand that you’re not bound by rigid hours during the week to join a bootcamp. There are options on the market that will fit into your daily routine and will still put you on the path to tech. You can work or study full-time, still attend to family commitments, and simply allocate some time during the day for the bootcamp.
Myth 3: Bootcamps are only for experienced coders
The idea that you need to have a background in coding to study at a bootcamp contradicts the core principles of this learning method. Many bootcamps are designed specifically for beginners who are looking to transition into a tech career. They begin by learning the very basics of coding, and gradually build up to more advanced topics.
For example, our Software Engineering, Data Analytics and Quality Assurance bootcamps all contain introductory modules in their curriculum. We also have free programs, such as our SQL course, to introduce you to the basics of the new realm.
Furthermore, bootcamps often have a diverse student population, with students of all walks of life and levels of experience, hailing from a variety of backgrounds and industries. In fact, some of the most successful bootcamp graduates are those who came into the program with no prior experience in coding or computer science.
For example, William, a graduate from our Software Engineering bootcamp, studied biochemistry at the University of Georgia, but after Practicum, he ended up as a software engineer with a six-figure salary at cove.tool.
Summing up, bootcamps and beginners are a perfect match. Moreover, many bootcamps are designed specifically for people with little to no background in coding. So, if you lack experience, bootcamps are the place to go!
Myth 4: Bootcamps are too short to provide a quality education
While it's true that traditional education programs are longer than bootcamps, which usually last 12–24 weeks (for example, Practicum bootcamps are 28-40 weeks long), that doesn't mean bootcamps offer less. They’re simply different.
Сonventional education models tend to offer more prestige and theory in tech-related domains, such as math and computer science fundamentals. Bootcamps, meanwhile, are focused on honing in-demand skills and giving you the hands-on experience that will get you into the profession fast. Both options provide networking possibilities, but with their own specifics.
So, these are two types of education with their pros and cons, and the decision is up to you. If you want a traditional "quality guarantee" for your education and a broader base in theoretical knowledge, as well as “offline” networking possibilities — pick traditional education. However, if you want to start on your new profession fast — definitely pick a bootcamp.
Of course, remember that bootcamps are not for everyone. They require a lot of hard work, dedication, and commitment, and may not be the best fit for those who prefer the luxury of slow-paced learning.
But for those who are ready to put in the work, coding bootcamps are an excellent way to gain the necessary skills.
Another advantage of bootcamps is that they often use a project-based approach to learning. This means that students actively build real-world applications and solve problems from day one, rather than just reading about coding concepts in a textbook.
Andrei’s story is one such example. He graduated from our Data Science bootcamp and says that Practicum armed him with a solid foundation and the skills he now uses in his job.
At Practicum, we do our best to ensure that our students learn the most relevant and up-to-date coding skills. We constantly update our curriculum to reflect any changes in the tech industry. We also work closely with industry partners to ensure that our graduates are well-prepared for the job market.
Myth 5: Bootcamps are too expensive
While it's true that bootcamps can be a significant investment, they're often much more affordable than a conventional college education.
According to a Course Report study, the average cost of a coding bootcamp is around $13,500. By comparison, College Tuition Compare states that the average annual tuition cost for schools with a computer science program is $26,455 for undergraduate programs and $21,422 for graduate ones.
Of course, the cost of a bootcamp can vary widely depending on the program you choose. For example, our Data Analysis bootcamp is $8,000, while our Data Science program is $12,500. By contrast, other bootcamps may cost as much as $17,000 or more.
However, it's important to consider the benefits you'll receive with a bootcamp when evaluating the cost. While a bootcamp may be more expensive than self-guided learning or online courses, it can also provide you with a more comprehensive education, as well as additional support during your studies.
Another thing to consider is the potential return on investment (ROI). According to research by Gallup, the median salary of bootcamp graduates surveyed was $11,000 higher one year after graduation than what they earned while attending a bootcamp. The median salaries rose from approximately $59,000 during the bootcamp to $70,000 after graduation, with a median income growth of around 17%.
Therefore, if the cost of a coding bootcamp is a concern for you, do some research to find a program that fits your budget and career goals. Remember that, while a bootcamp may be a significant upfront investment, it will also provide you with valuable skills and knowledge that can really pay off in the long run.
To dispel this myth once and for all, just watch the story of Jaylen, our Data Science graduate. He believes that the knowledge we provided was absolutely worth the money he invested.
Let myths be myths
In conclusion, the myths surrounding coding bootcamps are just that — myths. In Practicum, we strongly believe that anyone can achieve a career in tech. You don’t need to have a diploma, a coding background, or plenty of money to study. Nor do you have to give up on your family and current job to find time for a bootcamp. All you need is perseverance and a thirst for discovery.
Our tutors, senior students, code reviewers, and support managers are always on hand to help you every step of the way. We’ll provide you with highly sought-after technical skills and teach you how to write a standout resume and cover letter. You’ll also learn how to create a professional LinkedIn profile and GitHub portfolio. And if you somehow don’t land a job within six months after graduation (which is very unlikely), we’ll reimburse 100% of your tuition fees.
So, with all these myths debunked, we hope we’ve opened your eyes to the possibilities of what you can accomplish. You can absolutely find your place in tech, if you really want to!