What is more employable: a coding bootcamp certificate or a degree?


See also, “Coding bootcamps: an attractive alternative to a four-year degree?

If you talk to Christopher Bradshaw, a BYU student studying computer science, he’d tell you that a four-year degree is much more valuable to employers than a coding bootcamp certificate.

BYU Office of Information Technology engineering manager Dan Cunningham would be inclined to agree with Bradshaw.

Cunningham is currently in the process of hiring a JavaScript developer and explained that if two people apply with little experience, and one has a university degree while the other is a bootcamp graduate, he is more inclined to consider the college graduate.

“The (person) who has been going to college for four years is going to have a whole lot more training and understanding of development practices than the guy who has been sitting at a bootcamp for six weeks,” Cunningham said. “I am not disparaging the bootcamp; for six weeks I think it’s a great way to pick up another tool … but show me how you applied that.”

Bradshaw said he believes college graduates may be more employable because of credibility and connections.

“I feel like graduating from BYU opens a lot more doors than a coding bootcamp. A college graduate can demand more compensation and comes out with more connections,” Bradshaw said.

Tony Borash, the vice president of V School, a technical program that offers coding bootcamps, said he disagrees. Borash said Adobe offers a scholarship to sponsor people to come to V School and learn how to code.

“Adobe will start folks off in the low to high 70s with signing bonuses and stock options,” Borash said of the pay scale attainable to those who complete coding bootcamp.

However, Borash mentioned working for Adobe may be on the higher end of the pay-scale, and usually a junior developer will start off earning between $50,000 and $60,000 per year. Borash believes degree or not, their program prepares people to be junior developers, who he has seen be paid similar amounts to those who came from a four-year degree program.

According to Course Report’s 2017 survey of graduates from 73 coding schools, the average starting salary of a coding bootcamp graduate was $70,698. Those who graduated from a four-year degree program in computer science could expect to make an average salary between $50,000 and $106,000.

Although both Bradshaw and Cunningham said having a degree can make people more employable right off the bat, they both agreed having experience also plays a big part in landing a job.

BYU digital humanities professor Matthew Gibbons has worked with developers from both types of educational backgrounds.

“I have worked with good developers that have come from both a four-year degree and code boot camp background,” Gibbons said. “The real difference in employability came down to portfolios. What the students did with their education — the things they built and the projects they completed — is more important than where they received (their knowledge).”

Bonnie Bradford, an admissions representative at Utah coding bootcamp DevMountain, said often employers will come to them and ask them to recommended a few students for job openings. According to Bradford, many DevMountain graduates are employed by companies like Uber, Domo and Nike.

According to a 2018 coding bootcamp industry and outcomes report by SwitchUp, of the 1,500 coding bootcamp graduates they surveyed, 80.9 percent of alumni were employed and 71 percent were working full-time.

Dev Mountain Executive Director Krissy Weekley said employers in the past preferred to hire graduates with a four-year degree as they didn’t really know what to expect from a bootcamp graduate. Weekley said she believes that companies are now looking more into alternatives, perhaps because of talent shortages, and are considering more bootcamp graduates.

“Companies need people that can jump in right away. Bootcamps are filling these needs of talent shortages and are proving very valuable to the industry and changing minds of many higher level managers about where they hire from. The companies in Utah have been hiring more and more from our grads because they are able to jump in and get the job done quickly. Bootcamp grads are proving that they can learn a lot and go apply it right away,” Weekley said.

For more information on coding bootcamps, see the list below for a few of the many options available in the Salt Lake City Area:

Bottega: Located in Lehi; offers programs in Python and React, full-stack Ruby, front end, and data science.

DevMountain: Located in Lehi; offers programs in iOS development, software QA, user experience design, and web development.

Helio Training Bootcamp: Located in Salt Lake City and Draper; offers programs in full-stack web development, software QA testing, UI/UX design, and unity game development.

Thinkful: Located in Salt Lake City; offers programs in software engineering, full-stack, data science, data analytics, and product design.

V School: Located in Salt Lake City; offers programs in full-stack JavaScript, and experience design.

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