IT bootcamps and IT degrees are among the most popular IT education options. While IT bootcamps are better for beginners or accelerated learners, IT degrees provide more of a long-standing foundation in the world of computer science.

The best educational choice for you is going to depend on a variety of personal factors such as your existing skills, current job status (and field), your amount of field-relevant experience, your finances and the time you can commit to your education.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at IT bootcamps and college degree programs to help you identify which education model is the best fit for your career path.

IT bootcamp vs degree: what you need to know

Both Information Technology bootcamps and computer science degrees can be highly beneficial to someone pursuing a career in IT. It’s possible to pursue both forms of education, and some people choose to do so in order to pre-qualify themselves for higher-paying, more senior positions.

What most aspiring IT professionals do is pursue either a bootcamp or degree, and then seek out additional education or certifications later in their career, if and when it’s necessary.

Here’s the bottom line: there’s more than one way to break into the IT industry, and there’s more than one way to become successful. There are, however, certain programs that are better suited to your personal lifestyle and career goals than others.

What should I know about a computer science degree?

A college degree provides a comprehensive overview of the IT landscape, and often takes a full four years to complete. This represents a significant investment, both longer and more expensive than other IT training options.

Through a computer science degree, you'll typically gain a strong understanding of essential software fundamentals, such as algorithms, data structures, coding, linear algebra, calculus, digital architecture, operation systems and more.

The two biggest criticisms of college degrees are their cost and their ability to make you “book smart” but not “job smart.” In other words, possessing technical knowledge is different than possessing the hands-on experience necessary to actually perform it.

That is where bootcamps come in.

What should I know about IT bootcamps?

Bootcamps are becoming an increasingly popular education choice for people looking to break into a variety of industries — without the typical wait time and cost associated with a full degree.

Bootcamps are an accelerated form of education (typically under six months, most commonly around three) that are much more affordable. While there are some bootcamps that are under a thousand dollars, the majority of them cost, on average, between 3–10 thousand dollars.

Bootcamps are known for equipping students with “real world” education and experience that can be immediately applied to a job. Unlike college degrees, which are often slow to adapt to industry changes, bootcamps focus on teaching practices and strategies that are both up-to-date and job specific.

IT bootcamp vs degree: which is right for me?

IT bootcamps are great for beginning learners seeking to immediately impact the IT space. If you want to learn IT concepts full-time for a fuller understanding of computing specifics, a college degree is a great option.

At the end of the day, whether a bootcamp or degree is going to be right for you is going to depend on your lifestyle and career goals.

Here are some questions to consider before pursuing a higher education for your career.

What’s my availability?

Before deciding on an IT bootcamp or degree, you need to take a look at your schedule and ask yourself honestly how much time you’re willing to devote to your education. While you can go to college part-time (though this will draw out your already lengthy degree timeline), bootcamps are often part-time in nature, requiring only 3–15 hours per week.

What level of support do I need?

Do you learn better in a group or one-on-one? Are you looking for a teacher that will set aside a few hours every week to teach you personally, or only someone who is available to answer the occasional question via email? Both college and bootcamps typically offer some form of mentorship; your preference should depend on your learning style and current skill level.

What am I willing to invest?

Both a computer science degree and Information Technology bootcamp require a financial investment. College is more expensive than a bootcamp; both typically offer payment plans or some sort of financial aid. While price plays an important role in your decision, be sure that the decision you make is aligned with your vision, and not just out of scarcity or fear of investing.

Start learning today

Pace specializes in providing top-tier Information Technology education to adult learners who are pursuing a career in IT.

Pace’s IT Helpdesk Bootcamp is an immersive 14-week experience that equips you with the IT certification, the education, skills, tools and experience to help you land a rewarding job and begin building your dream career.

Contact our Admissions team to receive personalized career guidance and get started today.