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Coding Bootcamp vs. Self Study: Pros & Cons Explained

If you're starting to code, you'll have a few different routes to take with your learning process. Everyone is different, so working out what's the best option for your journey is important. We've outlined some pros and cons of bootcamp vs. self-study to help you make a decision.

Self Study

Pros

  • Free, online resources - There are lots of free online resources available to help you get started and begin to gain confidence. It's a great way to discover whether you enjoy coding. If you want to know where to start, we put together a list of some of our favourite resources to help out beginners.
  • Learn when it suits you - You can learn in your free time, while you're working. Everyone has different schedules and commitments, so self-study means you can learn at your own pace.
  • The answers are out there - If you want a quick answer to a simple question, what's everyone's first port of call? Google..! Self-study allows you to learn remotely with support from forums or finding answers online. It's pretty likely that someone else has been through the same thing you might be struggling with. Whether it's on a message board or detailed in a long-form article, you can often find answers within minutes, or within days if you're asking a new question.
  • Keep learning - Once you've learned the basics, you can keep picking up new skills through self-study. The tech industry is constantly evolving, so developers have to grow with it to make progress. It takes motivation to get started, but you need to maintain motivation to really kick-start your career, however you do it.

Cons

  • Keeping motivated to work hard - Everyone should know one thing before they start coding: you need to code (almost) every day. If you're planning to carry on working while you're learning to code, plan carefully to ensure you're building in time for coding. If you don't use it, you lose it – especially when you're starting out!
  • You're on your own - When working around a sticking point, there's no direct support from someone who has been through the same thing. Working out problems on your own can be beneficial. However, it's easy to learn some pretty bad habits, get frustrated and be tempted to give up, and you don't have the benefit of being able to learn from others around you.
  • Learning to code isn't the same as learning to be a developer - Learning under your own steam can do a good job of teaching you a language or a technology. But there's a lot more to being a software developer than coding that you can't learn online, such as how to work in a pair or in a tech team, best practices, system architecture or agile methodologies.
  • Getting into work - Job searches can be hard for whatever industry you're in. If you're attempting career change and you don't have any experience in tech, it could be even harder. Prepare yourself for an entry-level position and continue to learn in your spare time to gain more skills.

Coding Bootcamps

Pros

  • Support - Sometimes a problem just needs someone else's perspective. At bootcamp, there will always be access to support from tutors (as well as your peers) to help when you're stuck. It's far, far more effective to tackle a problem together to solve it.
  • Simulating working life - Your routine at a coding bootcamp will be similar to how it would be as a developer. You'll get to work with people in pairs or as part of a team, and collaborate to make projects happen. You'll simulate working life through pair programming, TDD, agile-inspired methodologies and more. Once you graduate, you should be able to transition relatively seamlessly into a job.
  • Employment options - When you've graduated from bootcamp, your options for employment are pretty open. Bootcamps with recruitment teams will look at what your strengths are, talk about the type of industries you'd like to work in and help to find a job that's right for you. Some will even be able to set up interviews for you. Average starting salaries for bootcamp graduates tend to be higher than for entry-level roles.
  • Accelerated learning - There are no ways to change career faster. While some can learn to code and get a job within months, for most people, it's more like years. And of course, it can be hard to get going. Bootcamps do all of the hard work of working out what to learn for you. The best bootcamps ask local companies what skills they want to hire for, and teach those specific skills. Bootcamps are the fast-track.

Cons

  • Avoiding a commute - The best coding bootcamps usually need their students to come every day to get the most out of their courses. If you’re based somewhere remote, or don’t have access to transport, this is something to think about.
  • Cost - there's not getting away from it. Coding bootcamps cost money. Of course, they are usually considerably cheaper than going to university again and tend to have much higher placement rates, but are definitely expensive compared to self-study (even if they more time-efficient efficient). Some bootcamps offer finance options to help with costs.
  • Risk - it's well-known that not all coding bootcamps are created equal. It's crucial that you do your research into the coding bootcamps you are interested in. Read online reviews and ensure you ask good questions to their team (here are a few good questions to ask). Read graduate outcomes statistics thoroughly and see what framework each school is using to calculate them.

If you want to give coding bootcamp a try, find out more about our full-time Developer Pathway course available in Manchester and Leeds.

 

Maddison Griffiths
Maddison is an Onboarding Mentor at Northcoders

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