How to Train as a Software Developer

Do a coding bootcamp or online course

Unlike many other professions where a degree is a pre-requisite for working in the field, the traditional three- or four-year Computer Science degree isn’t the only path to becoming a software developer. Coding bootcamps and online coding courses offer an alternative, accelerated route for those who are eager to enter the world of coding.

Coding Bootcamps

A coding bootcamp is an intensive, short-term training program designed to teach individuals the necessary skills and knowledge required to become software developers or enhance their existing programming skills. Typically lasting between 12-24 weeks, coding bootcamps focus on providing students with practical, hands-on experience in coding languages and frameworks relevant to the current job market.

These bootcamps often have a project-based curriculum, which allows students to work on real-world projects and gain valuable experience. The instructors in these programs are usually experienced professionals from the industry, providing students with insights and guidance based on their expertise. Coding bootcamps can be found in various formats, including full-time, part-time, and even remote learning options, catering to different schedules and personal commitments.

One of the main advantages of coding bootcamps is their condensed format, allowing individuals to acquire new skills in a relatively short amount of time. This makes them an appealing option for career changers or those looking to enhance their skills quickly. Furthermore, bootcamps often offer job placement assistance and networking opportunities, which can help graduates find employment in the tech industry.

Online Coding Courses

An online coding course, on the other hand, is a more flexible and self-paced learning option for those looking to learn programming or improve their existing skills. These courses are typically offered through e-learning platforms, which provide students with access to instructional materials, such as video lectures, written content, quizzes, and coding exercises, that can be accessed anytime and anywhere.

Students enrolled in online coding courses have the freedom to progress through the material at their own pace, making it an ideal option for those who need to balance their learning with other commitments, such as work or family. These courses may also come with additional resources, such as forums for discussion, Q&A sessions, or mentorship opportunities, which help to facilitate learning and provide support to the students.

While online coding courses may not be as intensive as coding bootcamps, they offer the advantage of flexibility and affordability. Many online coding courses are available for free or at a fraction of the cost of attending a coding bootcamp, making them accessible to a broader range of individuals. The self-paced nature of these courses allows learners to gain a deep understanding of the concepts at their own speed, ensuring a solid foundation in programming skills.

How Bootcamps and Online Courses Differ from a Traditional Degree

While a Computer Science degree provides a comprehensive and in-depth education in the principles and practices of computing, bootcamps and online courses take a more targeted approach, focusing on teaching specific programming languages and technologies in a shorter timeframe. Some key differences between these two educational paths include:

  • Duration: Bootcamps and online courses can range from a few weeks to a few months, offering a more condensed and accelerated learning experience compared to a traditional degree program which takes a minimum of three years.
  • Curriculum: While a Computer Science degree covers a broad range of subjects, bootcamps and online courses often focus on specific programming languages, frameworks, or technologies that are in high demand within the job market.
  • Cost: Bootcamps and online courses can be significantly more affordable than a traditional degree, making them an attractive option for those looking to minimize their educational expenses.
  • Flexibility: Many online courses offer the flexibility to learn at your own pace, allowing you to balance your studies with other commitments, such as work or family.
  • Practicality: Bootcamps and online courses tend to be more hands-on and project-oriented, emphasizing the practical application of skills and knowledge to real-world scenarios.

Examples of Bootcamps and Online Courses

There are a plethora of bootcamps and online courses available to aspiring software developers, catering to various interests, skill levels, and budgets. Some popular examples include:

  • Le Wagon: A full-stack web development bootcamp that teaches Ruby on Rails, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and more over a 9-week full-time or 24-week part-time program.
  • General Assembly: Offers a variety of immersive and part-time courses in software engineering, data science, and web development, with both in-person and online options available.
  • Codecademy: Provides interactive online courses in a variety of programming languages and technologies, with a focus on hands-on learning through coding exercises and projects.
  • Udacity: Provides a range of online “nanodegree” programs in areas such as web development, data science, and artificial intelligence, with courses designed in partnership with industry leaders like Google and Amazon.
  • Coursera: Offers a wide array of online courses and Specializations in software development, computer science, and related fields, with content from top universities and institutions like Stanford, Duke, and Google.
  • freeCodeCamp: A non-profit organization that offers a free, self-paced curriculum in web development, with hands-on projects and a supportive online community.

Who is Suited for Bootcamps and Online Courses?

Bootcamps and online courses can be an excellent fit for a variety of individuals, including:

  • Career changers: Those looking to transition into a software development career from a different field may find bootcamps and online courses to be an efficient and cost-effective way to acquire the necessary skills.
  • Professionals seeking to upskill: Experienced professionals looking to expand their skill set or stay current with the latest technologies may find bootcamps and online courses to be a convenient way to learn new skills quickly.
  • Self-motivated learners: Individuals who thrive in self-paced learning environments and are comfortable with independent study may find online courses particularly appealing.
  • Time-constrained individuals: For those with limited time to dedicate to their education, the shorter duration of bootcamps and online courses may be a more viable option than a traditional degree program.

Here are some theoretical scenarios where a bootcamp or online course may be preferred and would be more suitable for the learner:

  • Graphic Designer: After working as a graphic designer for several years, Jessica decided to transition into web development. She enrolled in a full-time, 12-week web development bootcamp and landed a job as a front-end developer within a month of completing the program.
  • Sales consultant: With a background in sales, Samuel wanted to break into the tech industry but didn’t have the time or resources to pursue a traditional Computer Science degree. He opted for a part-time online course in full-stack web development, which allowed him to continue working while learning. After six months, Samuel landed a job as a junior software engineer at a startup.
  • Stay-at-home parent: As a stay-at-home mom, Priya was looking for a flexible way to learn new skills and re-enter the workforce. She enrolled in a series of online courses on Coursera, focusing on Python and data science. Upon completing her coursework, Priya secured a remote job as a data analyst for a global company.
  • Liberal arts degree: A recent college graduate with a degree in English Literature, Alex struggled to find a job in his field. He discovered his passion for coding through an online coding course and spent several months working through their curriculum in his spare time. Upon completing the program, Alex landed a job as a web developer at a small digital agency.

These stories are made up but demonstrate that bootcamps and online courses can provide a viable alternative to a traditional degree, offering an accelerated, flexible, and cost-effective way to break into the world of software development. By focusing on in-demand skills and providing a more practical learning experience, these programs can be an ideal choice for career changers, professionals seeking to upskill, or those looking for a more flexible and affordable alternative to a traditional Computer Science degree.