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October 21, 2022 - 5 minutes

Self-Teaching vs Bootcamps: What's The Best Way to Learn Tech Skills?

Bootcamps. Are they worth it? (A completely unbiased analysis...)

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Bootcamps: Are they worth it? Should you take advantage of the overwhelming amount of free information out there and just teach yourself? Or should you stick with the tried-and-true bootcamp method? Is a set curriculum and sense of community overrated? Here we break down the pros and cons of each.

So, you’ve decided to “break into tech.” You’ve done your research and found some interesting career paths. Well, the next question is... how are you going to learn the skills you need for your next position? If you’re on this site, you’ve already taken the first step to figure that out. We know that there’s a lot of information out there, so we’re here to help you decide which path works best for you. 

The Case for Self-Teaching 

Starting off, the most obvious pro of self-teaching is definitely the fact that it’s free. There’s a low financial barrier to entry. Plus, if you’re not positive what area of tech you'd like to focus on and you’d like to just dip your toe in the water, it’s a great idea to shop around and see what free resources are available before you jump into the deep end. 

Another pro is the flexibility that self-teaching offers. If you’re currently working and can’t dedicate a full-time schedule to a boot camp, self-teaching is an easier way to work around your schedule. Because you’re the one setting your “curriculum,” you also get to decide the topics to focus on. You can learn what you want when you want. Best of all, you can get started right away! 

The Downsides of Self-Teaching

The flexibility of self-teaching can also be seen as a detriment, however. Since you have to research, gather, and organize the subject matter independently, it may be more time intensive than if you were to follow a set curriculum. You also need to make sure that you’re staying on track without any built-in moral support. Often, you require much more self-motivation to keep you going, since there’s no consequences for quitting. Even with all that, it’s difficult to know if you’re even learning the right things. What self-teaching gains in flexibility, it loses in reliability. 

The Case for Bootcamps

Bootcamps, on the other hand, are structured in a way to make sure you’re successful. Since they are based on in-demand skills, you can be sure that you’re learning the right things. Bootcamps employ project-based activities to make sure you’re getting hands-on experience in your desired field. You’ll learn not only how to implement the necessary tech skills, but also why you’re using them. Throughout the course, you’ll always have someone to turn to when you need answers or support, since you’re led by and instructor and surrounded by a community. You’ll be able to collaborate with others to enhance and reinforce the learning concepts. All of this allows you to face the challenge head on, and since you already paid for the program, you’re more motivated, and therefore more likely, to complete the course. 

 

Even after completing the course, bootcamps continue to provide you with job search benefits. Not only does the community aspect of bootcamps allow you to network with other developers-in-training and tech recruiters, most bootcamps, including our own, supply career guidance. Our tech fundamentals programs at IronHack help you discover top job prospects while providing you with resume tips, portfolio assistance, and interview strategies to secure the position. Bootcamps not only teach what you need to know, but also how to show it.  

Making A Bootcamp Work for You

So, you’re thinking about joining a bootcamp to gain the skills needed to take the next step. But, how do you make it work for you?  

Some things to consider: 

  • Time – How many hours can I set aside to focus on this? Can I organize my week to ensure that I finish all the work involved? Would a part-time bootcamps better fit my schedule? 

  • Money – How much can I afford to spend? Can I apply for financial aid or scholarships? Would I be able to enroll in financing options

  • Energy – How much effort am I willing to put into this? Will putting the work in now make it easier for me down the road? Would a remote bootcamp work better for me? 

 

In the end, you’re the only one who can answer these questions. But, here at IronHack, we hope to make our bootcamps as accessible as possible, so we’ve developed some possible solutions to these common issues. We’ve made sure that all of our bootcamps have financing options and scholarships available to help you out with cost. We also offer part-time bootcamps to help you find flexibility and balance in the midst of other responsibilities and commitments. We’ve developed remote bootcamps to make sure that you can learn tech skills from the comfort of your own home, while still getting the same high-quality education, community atmosphere, and career support as other campus bootcamps. We also have an admissions team that can answer all your questions and walk you through all your options. 

If you want to test your skills before embarking on a bootcamp, check out our free short courses in UX/UI Design and JavaScript.

Figuring Out What’s Better for You

Before you start, you need to figure out which path is right for you. Depending on your needs and priorities, either way might work better for you – or possibly even both! How can you weigh your options? Maybe, write a pros and cons list to outline your options. Think about what has worked best for you in the past. Talk to friends and family that know your work style and schedule. Possibly even, try a free course to see if it fits your learning style. All in all, it’s your decision to make, since you’re who will have to put in the work.  

If you decide that a bootcamp would work best for you, check out our tech bootcamps!  

We offer courses in the following areas: 

Have a look at our FAQ to answer any questions you may have or apply to one of our bootcamps to get the process started.  After you apply, you’ll have the chance to sit down with the admissions team to make sure that IronHack is a good fit for you and vice versa. Once accepted, you don’t have to commit to a bootcamp until you’re absolutely 100% ready. We know that it can be scary to decide to change your career goals, so we’ll be here when you’re all set to go!

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