Coding bootcamps and 4-year colleges have nearly identical percentage of alumni employed at Big Five: report

Code Fellows, Hackbright Academy, Hack Reactor all had similar numbers of alumni employed at the Big Five -- while costing 10% of the tuition charged at traditional colleges.

A new study from Switchup has analyzed the hiring rates of coding bootcamp graduates among the Big Five tech companies -- Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Amazon. 

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Sung Rhee, CEO of Switchup's parent company Optimal, said his team analyzed data from LinkedIn to see which coding bootcamps had the highest number of alumni employed at the Big Five and how they compared to those with four-year degrees. 

Of all the bootcamps, Code Fellows topped the list, with 11.15% of its graduates working for one of the Big Five. Hackbright Academy, Hack Reactor and Product School were the next three bootcamps on the list, each hovering around 4% of 5% of graduates securing positions at the Big Five. 

The study, run between April 19-30, examined the employment rates for alumni of 370 bootcamps either based in the US or offering remote learning options. The bootcamps analyzed had to have at least 1,000 alumni on LinkedIn

"Several bootcamps have higher percentages of alumni employed in the Big Five than Harvard's computer science program, which has 5.24% of alumni employed in the Big Five," Rhee wrote.

Code Fellows, which is based in Seattle, also had almost 2,000 alumni listed on LinkedIn and the highest ratio of graduates at Microsoft and Amazon, according to Switchup. Both Hackbright Academy and Hack Reactor had a high rate of alumni working at Google. Hackbright Academy is a bootcamp for women and Hack Reactor is known for both online courses and in-person programs. 

Rhee noted that bootcamps like Free Code Camp, Udacity, and General Assembly had higher overall numbers of alumni at the major tech companies but attributed it to the size of their enrollment, with a combined alumni base of 200,000 people. 

The study measured the bootcamps against computer science departments at eight colleges, finding that "coding bootcamps offered competitive employment results compared to computer science degrees from top universities, at around 10% of the cost."

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SwitchUp

Most of the bootcamps had lower alumni employment rates at the major tech companies compared to the most prestigious institutions likes University of California-Berkeley, Stanford University, and Cornell University. 

But average employment at major tech companies was similar for computer science graduates and bootcamp alumni overall, according to the study. Product School, App Academy, and Coding Dojo managed to beat out alumni of the computer science departments at The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Georgetown University, and Boston University for jobs at the Big Five.

"It's important to note that this comparison isn't limited to those with only a bootcamp education and no bachelor's degree. People with a range of different education and experience levels use coding bootcamps to break into the tech industry, change careers, or learn new skills for their current role," Rhee explained. 

"If you're looking to go back to school and considering doing a coding bootcamp or getting a bachelor's degree in computer science, this comparison is especially useful. However, a bachelor's degree is not always a requirement for jobs with major tech companies – over half of tech executives say they'll hire applicants without a degree, including Google and Apple."

The bootcamps also had higher employment rates than the computer science departments at a number of major state schools like the University of Connecticut, Pennsylvania State University and Texas Tech. 

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SwitchUp

The study notes that the average price of a traditional 4-year college degree is more than $225,000 while the average price of a bootcamp is $15,478.

Despite the price difference, there was only a .57% difference between the average percentage of alumni at the Big Five. 

Chloé Messdaghi, co-founder of tech diversity organization We Open Tech, said college costs are far too high and too many Gen Zers as well as millennials are forced to accrue large amounts of student debt in order to attend.

Messdaghi added that universities do have value but leave the acquisition of many actual job skills and abilities for students to acquire on their own. 

"Bootcamp is intended to provide participants with hands-on learning experiences. And because of their presumably far more affordable costs, bootcamps can provide a far greater and more equity opportunity for graduates to enter the tech and security space, another important factor," Messdaghi said. 

"But bootcamps need to have even more help available for those from underrepresented communities, and part of that could be open doors and mentorships for those from marginalized sectors who want to enter tech." 

She also urged the government to get involved in providing financial support for those trying to attend tech and cyber bootcamps. 

Both colleges and bootcamps, she added, need to provide more mentorships, and greater assistance for marginalized communities. 

"Today, great people are being discouraged or even barred because of access to credit and the enormous debt they'd be forced to assume. The road ahead is long and we need more talent on it," Messdaghi said. 

Other experts, like Haystacks Solutions CEO Doug Britton, noted the severe lack of tech talent available to match market demand and explained that the sheer number of people needed in cyber jobs does not align with the 4-year timeline of college programs.  

In order to address the dearth of people available for certain roles, companies had to be ok with hiring tech talent that had months, not years, of experience. 

"This also presents an opportunity for managers to generate long-term retention incentives, but providing growth paths that shape employees from bootcamp through to leadership and subject matter expert roles," Britton said.  

"College training fills an important need, because it is more rigorous preparation around algorithms, theory, and historical attack insights.  In either case, we need to increase the efficiency of the public and private cyber training dollars by focusing on those learners that are most likely to become future cyber leaders."