Programming bootcamps have quickly become a hot topic in the tech community. According to Course Report, the coding bootcamp market has grown an astonishing 88% in the US and Canada since 2013. As former bootcamp attendees, we were interested in looking at the 2017 Annual Stack Overflow Developer Survey data to see if there were any interesting findings about hiring coding academy graduates. To our surprise, coding academy graduates were not that different from the developer population at large.
In the Stack Overflow survey, 2,648 professional developers in the US shared their salaries and indicated whether or not they went to a bootcamp. Bootcamp graduates accounted for 11% of these developers. Digging into the data revealed that the median salary of developers who attended a bootcamp exactly matched the median salary of the US developer population at large who took the survey ($95,000). Further statistical modeling showed that attending a bootcamp does not have a significant effect on salary. This suggests that companies at large hire and compensate new developers based on their own merits and the knowledge and skills that they can bring to the team, rather than purely based on their educational background. This is consistent with our own experience here at Stack Overflow, where though we attended a bootcamp, we were evaluated and compensated based on the same rubric and scale as other developers.
Another surprising finding was that more coding academy graduates had an undergraduate degree in Computer Science or a related field than one would expect. Just under 55% of developers in the US who participated in the survey and reported their major had a degree in computer science or a related field, whereas for bootcamp graduates, the figure was around 36%. Although bootcamps are commonly marketed as a vehicle to change careers, (that was certainly our case), the survey data suggests that a fair amount of developers may have attended a bootcamp to upgrade their skills or learn some of the newer, in-demand technologies and workflow methodologies that bootcamps tend to teach.
Bootcampers on average display a higher level of career satisfaction relative to the total population of developers. The average career satisfaction ranking among all professional developer survey respondents was 7.6, while the subset of those who had a bootcamp education averaged slightly higher at 7.8.
We also looked at career satisfaction by undergraduate major. The differences overall are modest, but we found that those without computer-programming related degrees made the top of the list. The top 3 majors with the highest career satisfaction were business, fine arts/performing arts, and social sciences. Meanwhile, all the computer-programming related degrees fell in the bottom half.
As bootcamp graduates with majors in Accounting (Jisoo) and Sociology (Ian), we both feel more fulfilled with the challenges we face as developers today than the challenges we faced in our previous professions. Although a formal CS education has been the traditional path into the tech industry, companies could also benefit from hiring bootcamp graduates. With high levels of career satisfaction, they may be more engaged at work and choose to stick around longer.
We find that 12% of bootcamp graduates are female, compared to only 8% of all developers who responded to our survey. There is obviously still a lot of progress to be made on this front, but our data indicates that bootcamps could be a good channel for hiring people from traditionally underrepresented groups (in this case, women).
My (Jisoo) personal experiences provide somewhat of an anecdote. I started off in college as an engineering major, but felt a little intimidated by the competition and later switched to the “safer” field of accounting. Attending an all-women, tuition-deferred bootcamp allowed me to rediscover my original interests in a welcoming environment and in an affordable manner. By tapping into bootcamps for hiring, tech companies could potentially promote greater gender diversity.
Bootcamps and coding academies provide an alternative path into the tech industry, as we have experienced ourselves. Bootcamp graduates include more experienced developers who are updating their skills as well as new developers transitioning into the field. Graduates from these coding academies are paid well, have high career satisfaction, and have higher proportions of developers from underrepresented groups in tech.