Education choices to become a software developer

There are three ways people can break into the rapidly growing world of software development. A computer science degree from a college or university, self-teaching, and coding bootcamps. Self-teaching needs a great amount of discipline. People using this approach may have difficulties because you don’t have people around to help you with your issues leading to a lack of motivation or knowing how to go from just learning to a six figure career.

A university or a college is no longer the only choice for a career in coding. Yet going to the tradional route of obtaining a degree is still the most tried and true method for landing a career at the bigger tech firms across the world since there are many important concepts in not just coding hard skills but also other personal leadership abilities.

However, coding bootcamps are emerging as a great alternative to obtain the training and skills needed to land an entry level tech job and work up the ladder in a more hands on approach.

The two types of education paths in software engineering?

There are two paths available to software engineers; Type-1 and Type-2 Engineers.

Both of them understand computer science (CS) enough to perform innovative, challenging work, and they are quite familiar with certain high-level tools. Both of them are recognized as software engineers and both have excellent earning potentials throughout their careers.

Type-1 engineers tend to have well recognized and more fulfilling work over time. They can be primary contributors to open source projects or valuable commercial work with high-level individual contributions and technical leadership. These engineers learn CS in-depth by traditional means and learning throughout their whole career.

Type-2 engineers, on the other hand, remains at the surface. Learning specific technologies and tools rather than underlying foundations, and picking up new skills as the technical climate changes. These days, people embarking in tech are increasing in numbers, whereas the number of grads remains static.

This overflow of Type-2 developers has started to reduce their employment opportunities and kept them out of much of the more fulfilling work available to Type 1 engineers such as Silicon Valley Startups or Faang and other Forbes 500 companies. Learning computer science through a university is still the best path if you are looking to become a Type-1 engineer, a higher entry level salary at a lucrative company, and a more secure job.

College or university versus coding bootcamps:

Let’s discuss the two viable options make available about learning this interesting tech. While studying in a college or university, you get to earn a degree based on completing the requirements on selected subjects. Almost every individual will get a CS degree. Certain educational institutions allow you to choose a specialized branch of study as part of your major.

When you have a deep liking for a tech career, chances are that you can get the degree. After that, you can further earn a Ph.D. in computer science or a Master of Science. But, a CS degree isn’t required by employers for a tech job always.

Employers need both soft and hard skills, and you can achieve those skills in different ways. The specific skills you acquire through experience or education are called hard skills. Having proficiency in Python or knowing how to code by using JavaScript are two examples representing hard skills.

Personal traits that impact your job performance and coworkers directly are called soft skills. Public speaking, time management, and teamwork are some of the soft skills that impact your job regularly. A college or university teaches you the hard skills. You get to learn about web development, operating systems, and coding languages.

This leads to familiarity and not mastery. As you go deeper and deeper into these subjects, specialization comes later. Coding bootcamps provide you a variety of courses where you can learn the skills through a curriculum within a short span of time. The bootcamps may run for a few weeks, but there are courses that can continue for a year.

During this time, individuals enrolled in front-end web development or data science learn all the needed skills through a curriculum and support from career services. Bootcamps can be a better alternative to a CS degree, especially in fields like data science. When you attend bootcamps, they have specialized courses in particular fields.

Bootcamps on front-end development teach you JavaScript, CSS, and HTML using a robust curriculum and real-world scenarios. There is a separate bootcamp if you want to learn Python or other backend languages. Also, bootcamps are a great way to have soft skills because of the diversity of students and smaller class sizes.

You are working with other people with different technical backgrounds, goals, and experiences through an intense curriculum. There would be challenges and you have to seek help by communicating with teachers and students. This way, you can learn about working within a team. Here are some of the major key takeaways.

Computer Science CollegeCoding Bootcamp
Length of education2 years associate degree
4-5 years bachelor
6-7 years masters degree
3 weeks to 3 months completion certificate
Education styleFocused on a curriculum to teach theory, application, and pre-requisites to improve in other technical areas Teaches basic coding principles and how to apply those to build basic level projects
Career references4 years of networking opportunities, alumni groups, career fairsNetwork with fellow campers, teachers, and assistants.

What does the rigorous curriculum look like for both programs?

A normal CS degree provides a detailed view of coding principles, engineering fundamentals, and general education requirements. You will also get a lot of training on everything related to computers such as circuits, electronics, architecture, and operating systems. You can combine the degree with other disciplines unlike from a bootcamp to get dual bachelors in engineering disciplines with another semester or two making you a more desirable candidate.

Most CS programs wrap up their coursework by having the students complete a capstone project which is similar to working on a small team in a company. You will propose the project, come up with the initial designs, divide work between the team members, find ways to optimize costs and performance of your system, and demonstrate your engineering project to a field of peers.

But, you won’t use the skills you have learned in a computer science program to build a mobile app or a website. Instead, they provide you with the foundation for diving deep into the algorithms and programming that help to scale apps and give projects related to demonstrated a deep understanding of a concept just as binary search trees, CRC checking, or building your own code interpreter. Whereas coding bootcamps focus more on developing a general tool that you would likely list on a project portfolio.

If you intend to learn coding by doing and you like project-based, hands-on learning, you would learn best at coding bootcamps; because they don’t have long-form lectures, you can have a short intro to concepts and in-depth assignments later. In bootcamps, the class gets to know how something works. People work together as a group and later work on their own.

In short, a bootcamp degree gives you a more hand on understanding of a specific topic. You can get a detailed history of the industry, and explain why and how things are used.

Why it is good to go to a college for a computer science degree?

Simply put, you should go to a college or a university if you are a recent graduate and want to earn a degree. Attended classes in a college is not a bad idea as it expands your education and should be considered as an investment in yourself. Most tech jobs require a bachelor’s degree, especially for occupations like software engineer, data analyst, or applied scientist.

Hence, it makes sense to go to college and obtain a CS degree. You get to learn about the different skills and gain profound knowledge about what tech is really all about. This way, you can get hold of the needed skills for your career. College and universities give you a strong foundation in computer science.

Various kinds of skills such as working on operating systems, learning about algorithms, and implementing advanced mathematics concepts like calculus principles found in gaming physics engines. With all those expertise, you enter the marketplace and become a viable candidate for the position of entry or junior level software engineers.

But, there are a few drawbacks of attending a college to get the CS degree. College tuitions are quite expensive and often rise every year. If you need student loans this can lead to its own set of stress in your life such as getting the loan in the first place and thinking how will you pay it back. With the average starting salary of $80,000 for a software developer with a bachelors degree you shouldn’t’ have difficult paying them back. However, there is another drawback of going to colleges that lead to the rise of bootcamps.

Educational institutions didn’t manage to keep up with the recent trends in the world of tech, which is moving pretty fast. Great CS programs, like at MIT or Stanford University, have included new courses to address new fields. Stanford University, for example, provides a broad array of topics in artificial intelligence and biocomputation. But, other universities aren’t as ahead of the curve for emerging fields but will still provide you a strong foundation to start your development career ahead of the curve. Some of the key takeaways of what most do provide are discussed here.

  • College provides you the hard skills necessary for a well-rounded education and tech career such as business principles, writing, communication and more advanced problem solving ability then a you would gain in a coding bootcamp.
  • The students get to know about the program in a detailed manner ahead of time through 4-5 year syllabuses to maximize the program’s efficiency
  • Computer science degrees help individuals to become solo contributor that helps to build systems with fewer instructions
  • College makes you run deep in memory and runtime analysis of algorithms, networking protocols, and more to give you in-depth knowledge on how data can flow through complex electronic systems
  • A CS degree is a standard certification many employers look for in a candidate showing ability to accomplish long term goals
  • You get to learn the underlying tech principles that are necessary when you start your career
  • Access to networking opportunities through your university to obtain high quality jobs through job fairs and direct references

Is it better to attend a college or university or coding bootcamps?

It is totally a personal choice to choose between them. Going to a college or university provides you conventional advantages that are quite beneficial when you are hunting for jobs. Many employers are looking for a college CS degree because some kind of jobs need an advanced degree and show you have the ability to devote your time and work self directed to achieve long term goals. Apart from this, many bootcamps do prepare you with practical coding skills that are required for recent tech careers. Here is another article if you are looking for a more direct comparison between a computer science degree verse a coding bootcamp.


Colleges or universities, and coding bootcamps both were created to serve individual purposes. You are learning and exploring options in college with subjects you are interested in. The core principles of CS such as computer architecture, electronics, etc. help you improve reasoning and aids in problem-solving abilities.

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