The tech industry’s stratospheric growth of the past decade has fuelled a demand for skills that is difficult to meet. The rise of large volumes of highly paid jobs has in turn encouraged many people to consider a career change into tech, and a large variety of educational programmes offering to help make this possible.
The online learning and bootcamp programmes mean that it’s possible to study towards a new career in months rather than years, with significantly faster results and smaller investment than taking a university degree programme.
These programmes typically maximise on accessibility. Willing students can start studying quickly and without the kind of educational hurdles that can hinder university applications for those looking to switch paths mid-career.
This flexibility is typically carried through to the learning programme with options for intensive full-time study (the bootcamp) or part-time study that means students can combine with their existing job roles, home and family lives.
Programme delivery is highly practical, with a focus on developing skills that will be needed in graduates first tech jobs rather than getting hung up on the theory and rationale that features in university degree programmes.
Programmes are generally focussed on a single job role rather than providing a broad-based coverage of the wider field, with different options for Web Developers, Software Developers, Cyber Security Engineers and so on.
Certification from these new style programmes is typically based on demonstrable skillsets but can have a more variable worthiness than a standard university issued degree. Students’ choice of school is an important component here, with employers quickly able to discern between thorough programmes and lighter touch options.
For students considering investing time and money to become employable in a tech career, the key questions to ask potential schools include the following:
- What are the range of skills I will learn on this programme?
- What job roles will I qualify for?
- Which employers place students on your programmes?
- Which employers hire your students after graduation?
- How is my course going to be taught?
- How much support will I receive during my studies?
- Is there a local campus location where I can study?
- Will I get personalised coaching and mentoring throughout my programme?
There’s also a practical financial consideration. For many students the cost of going to university, including foregoing existing income is just too great to make this a viable option.
But there remains a vast range of pricing options for bootcamp style programmes, from those that are free though to those with tuition fees into five figures. A 2020 survey by BestColleges found an average cost of US $13,720 / GBP £10,239 for bootcamp programmes.
Value for money here is clearly related to the quality of education provided, and the quality of employment opportunities that graduates are capable of securing.
Many schools offer flexible financing options that enable students to pay their tuition over time, with instalment plans available that are designed to support affordability for students before they transition into higher paying tech careers.
Employers are receptive to bootcamp graduates, aware that there is a limited pool of Computer Science graduates for them to work with. According to Dan Ayoub, Education General Manager at Microsoft: “A bootcamp is not only a great way to learn the skillset of coding, but also to network and see what a career in coding could look like based on an individual’s areas of interest.”
Whether these programmes are right for your specific circumstances depends on the following:
- Do you need to get new skills quickly?
- Are you motivated to take control of your learning?
- Are you able to commit to studying to master new skills?
- Will you need structured support to help you achieve your career goals?
If you’re considering a tech career, explore what prospective schools can offer before making a commitment. The best schools will be able to provide sample lessons, share credentials of their instructor team, offer examples of student success and corporate partnerships, and detail how they support students to achieve their goal – switching careers.