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    Coding Bootcamp Vs. Self-Learning: What's the Best Path for 2024

    By Fullstack Academy

    Coding bootcamp vs self learning

    Last Updated 12/5/2023

    Given how highly in-demand software developers are at the moment, it’s no surprise that an entire industry has developed around teaching people to code.

    Massive online open courses like Codecademy—where coders learn at their own pace—and more intense, instructor-led coding bootcamps like Fullstack Academy are particularly popular choices for those looking to learn code in a short amount of time.

    But when both routes can lead to a career in software engineering, how can aspiring developers choose the right type of education?

    So, what is the best way to learn coding? Let’s dive into the major differences between attending a coding bootcamp versus self-learning, including the benefits of guidance and structure, building your community, and more.

    Differences Between Self-Learning and Coding Bootcamps

    Self-learning and coding bootcamps are both great options for learning how to code. The best way to learn coding will ultimately depend on your level of commitment, learning style, and professional goals.

    A coding bootcamp is a short-term, immersive program that helps you build practical skills through hands-on learning experiences. These rigorous programs are led by industry-experienced professionals who can provide insight into what a career in coding may look like. Plus, some bootcamps allow you to learn coding online to offer greater flexibility and convenience. Bootcamps are ideal for those looking to launch a full-time career in coding.

    With self-learning, you’ll research and use online resources to teach yourself how to code. Both cost-effective and flexible, self-learning allows you to develop skills at your own pace and leverage many of the free resources available. Self-learning is ideal for those who want to learn coding as a hobby or just want to get their feet wet.

    Here are just a few of the major differences between self-learning and a coding bootcamp to help you decide which path is right for you.

    Self-Learning is a Great Starting Point

    If you need help deciding whether a career in coding is right for you, self-learning can be a great first step. There are many free resources for self-learning—books, YouTube, online courses, and more—and because they are so readily available, these resources are natural starting points for anyone wanting to transition to a career in code.

    By utilizing free online resources, you can get a better understanding of what coders do and the skills they need to thrive. Self-learning can also help you build a great foundation of skills to build off of through formal education. In fact, this is a typical journey for many successful software developers.

    While self-learning can indeed play an important role in a coder’s journey, you’ll likely need to pursue some type of formal education in order to develop a well-rounded skillset and land a role within the field.

    Knowing Where to Focus Your Energy

    The world of software development is massive. There are more than 200 programming languages, for instance. That means there’s a lot to learn, but it also means there’s a lot that beginners don’t realize they don’t know.

    Which is the right language—or languages—to focus on? What skills are actually necessary for a career in programming? These questions are huge hurdles to overcome for someone who knows very little about the industry.

    This is exactly how coding career-changer Laurence Bradford felt. The sheer number of online courses, books, and other free-ish material out there doesn’t help (and is even a little overwhelming) when you have no idea what you should be learning—let alone how to break into a new industry.

    If you want to make sure you are focusing your time and energy on the right things, you need expert guidance.

    A coding bootcamp led by experienced teachers and staff with a history of helping graduates secure jobs with top companies offers exactly that guidance. And bootcamps do far more than just point you in the right direction: The immersive environments empower students to commit the time necessary to become proficient at coding.

    Immersive Environments Make You Commit Fully

    One of the best ways beginners can truly become professional developers in just a few months is by fully committing to an immersive environment.

    It takes exceptional levels of discipline and consistency when you’re self-learning, which can be a recipe for failure for even the brightest and most dedicated students. Through the immersive nature of coding bootcamps, students gain practical programming experience in a supportive environment that’ll set them up for success.

    Coding Bootcamps Build Your Network

    Being part of a community only bolsters the coding bootcamp benefits we’ve already covered.

    The more experienced people you have around you, the more quickly you’ll be able to power through roadblocks and clean up your code. The idea that developers prefer to work in isolation is a myth. In fact, software development is often collaborative within the workplace, making it vital to learn how to code in a team environment.

    Being a part of a community is also a great way to boost your network.

    The people you meet during bootcamp—classmates, instructors, hiring managers, fellow coders at seminars and hackathons—will be the foundation of your tech network. This can be incredibly valuable once you’ve graduated and are making your way in the industry. Plus, a strong network can help build your reputation as a developer.

    With a strong network, you’ll learn more about the industry, find out about meetups, and get the inside scoop on exciting products and companies.

    You’ll also open yourself up to job opportunities you likely wouldn’t have access to as a self-taught coder. Because software engineering is such a tight-knit community, developers will often recommend friends or colleagues for roles and vouch for their expertise.

    Coding Bootcamps Demonstrate Your Commitment and Help You Find a Job

    Graduating from a bootcamp demonstrates to prospective employers your commitment to learning and drive to succeed.

    Employers know that bootcamps are rigorous. Proving that you can dedicate 60 to 80 hours a week to learn a new skill set says a lot about you. This is one of the many reasons bootcamp graduates are highly sought after by some of the top companies in the world.

    Bootcamps will also give you the opportunity to create a portfolio that will impress hiring managers.

    As someone new to the industry, you won’t have work experience in web development for employers to evaluate, so you’ll need to demonstrate your skills another way. That’s where your portfolio will be invaluable.

    You’ll create several fully functional apps during the bootcamp experience that you can use to get the attention of hiring managers and discuss during interviews.

    Many employers prefer to hire coding bootcamp graduates because they have hands-on experience. Course Report found that bootcamp graduates are frequently hired by established companies, like Google, LinkedIn, and Amazon.

    Further, many bootcamps dedicate career coaching to helping graduates find their first jobs.

    Bottom Line: Coding Bootcamps Get You There Faster

    An established curriculum, expert help, and immersive environment all add up to one big benefit: You’ll likely learn a lot faster in a coding bootcamp than if you were self-learning.

    For Fullstack Academy alum Shawn Wang, this made the investment in a bootcamp education worth it.

    Before committing to Fullstack Academy, Wang tried several free courses that taught him the basics of programming, but it was a slow process.

    Wang says if he had continued his goal of being a self-taught coder, it would have taken him at least a year to learn what Fullstack Academy’s Software Engineering Immersive Bootcamp taught him in three months.

    Self-learning is the starting point for many aspiring coders, and knowing how to learn by yourself will help you stay current in the future. But for individuals who are serious about building a career in code, there’s simply no substitute for the knowledge, resources, and opportunities that a bootcamp can offer.

    Ready to take your self-learning to the next level? Apply to Fullstack Academy today and learn everything you didn’t know you didn’t know.

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