Some people who want to learn programming sign up for a four-year program at a college or university. Others opt for a three-month boot camp, especially if they want to enter the job market quickly.
Triplebyte, which pairs developers with startups, decided to compare the two educational paths. Since the company interviews developers on their strengths in four different categories (practical programming, web architecture, low-level system understanding, and algorithmic understanding), it’s in a good position to judge many of the practical ways in which boot camp graduates might match up with their college-educated peers.
Based on its interviews with developers, Triplebyte built this visualization:
“The first thing to note about this graph is that bootcamp grads do as well as or better than college grads on practical programming and web system design, and do worse on algorithms and low-level systems,” read the company’s blog posting on its analysis. When it came to “deep knowledge” of programming, college graduates had an advantage.
To frame it a slightly different way, boot camps focus on practical knowledge, while college programs don’t shy away from plunging into the fundamentals and abstract concepts that underlie modern computing. Someone who does well at a boot camp would probably perform at an average or above-average capacity in a company focused just on troubleshooting code or iterating on existing apps, but he or she might struggle in an environment that demands a lot of conceptual work, such as a startup devoted to self-driving cars.
At least, that’s what Triplebyte suggested in its posting. “Boot camps focus on totally different areas than CS programs. They focus intensely on the practical skills required to be a productive programmer,” it concluded. “These are skills that CS programs expect students to pick up around the edges of their course work.”
That being said, the intensiveness of boot camps—eight hours of instruction per day, five days a week, with lots of projects to complete—helps make attendees of those programs a match on many fronts for college graduates. For a deeper breakdown of Triplebyte’s methodology, check out its blog.