IT careers don’t grow on trees — despite the estimated 682,800 computer and IT positions that should become available over the next decade. To obtain the IT position you deserve, you’ll likely need a combination of education and experience.

IT bootcamps and IT internships represent two of the best ways that modern students can learn practical skills in information technology and related fields.

Which learning option is better for you: an IT bootcamp or an IT internship?

Students who are brand new to IT or are seeking to update their industry knowledge and skills will likely prefer a bootcamp education method. By contrast, students who have already received some form of formal or informal IT education would likely benefit from the experience that an IT internship can deliver.

IT bootcamps and internships both have their own set of pros and cons. In the next few minutes, we’ll help to break down which IT education option is better for you — and why.

What is an IT internship?

An Information Technology internship is an experience-based stepping stone that helps entry-level professionals transition into the IT workforce. No two IT internships are alike, but in most cases, you’ll be responsible for assisting in developing, maintaining, repairing and installing different systems and softwares.

The length of an IT internship can range from 4 weeks to 12 months (depending on the employer), but are most commonly 3-6 months, and are generally unpaid.

Not getting paid isn’t a dealbreaker for everyone, but it’s an important fact to be aware of. You will still gain significant on-the-job experience, but you’ll likely have to find other ways to support yourself during this time, ways that won’t interfere with your internship commitment.

At the right company, you can gain invaluable wisdom and experience from an internship. It isn’t uncommon for individuals who display a strong work ethic, trustworthiness and consistent reliability to receive a job offer upon completing the program.

What is an IT bootcamp?

An IT bootcamp is an accelerated learning program, typically offered online, that equips professionals with the latest industry knowledge and in-demand skills sought by IT recruiters.

Bootcamps are one of the most popular education models that adult learners are choosing to pursue, and many are even starting to believe they’re beginning to overshadow traditional education models.

Some of the top benefits of a bootcamp include:

  • A much shorter time commitment
  • More flexibility for unique lifestyles
  • Affordable options for a high-quality education
  • Access to the latest-and-greatest industry trends and tools
  • Increased earning potential and greater career opportunities

Despite their many benefits, IT bootcamps also have a few cons. For example, select employers still require candidates to obtain a four-year college or university degree before they’re eligible for hire.

IT bootcamp vs internship: which is right for me?

Consider two factors — you and your goals — when choosing between IT bootcamp and internship models.

We suggest reviewing the three questions below to better identify which learning option is better for your situation.

1. What’s my availability?

Both an IT bootcamp and internship demand a time commitment, but a bootcamp requires a significantly less intense one. Internships more often than not model a full-time job, meaning interns are typically required to regularly work full shifts for their employer. On the other hand, bootcamps are usually part-time commitments that are mostly flexible and adaptable to your schedule.

2. What’s my skill level?

Bootcamps are typically (though not always) meant for beginners, people who have little knowledge and experience of the industry. If you’re brand new to IT and are still familiarizing yourself with the basics, a bootcamp is likely the best option for you.

Internships are typically reserved for those who have received a college degree but have not yet been given an opportunity to apply their “book smarts” to the “real world.” In other words, internships are generally for people who are already familiar with the industry, but without the experience and the employment history to show for it.

3. Have I spoken with someone in the industry?

When in doubt, seek counsel. You may have done extensive research and scoured forums for different opinions, but nothing beats the ever-effective practice of networking. If you feel like you’ve “done everything” but still don’t have a clear decision, connect with current IT specialists and simply ask them about their experiences. Identify which education model they chose and if they still would choose that one now, and be open to their guidance.

Jumpstart your IT career today

Pace specializes in providing aspiring and experienced IT professionals with the education, skills, training and resources you’ll need to succeed in the industry.

Our IT Helpdesk Bootcamp sets you up to gain valuable skills, earn an industry-recognized IT certificate and begin a meaningful career in information technology.

Contact our Solutions team today to advance your IT career.