Don’t let the lack of a traditional college degree hold you back. A recent survey shows that hustle and passion trump formal education.
Coding bootcamp graduates with three-months of training are getting paid 12% more starting salaries than developers who attend a four-year college, reveals a survey by Arc.dev, a remote career platform for software developers.
The salary data of over 2,500 remote software developers also shows that self-taught developers earn up to 26% more for senior roles as compared to developers with a bachelor’s degree.
“The findings confirm that companies are willing to pay top dollar for talented developers, regardless of their formal education. A traditional four-year computer science degree is no longer the only path to success. The way we think about career development has changed drastically with the acceptance of non-traditional education and self-directed learning. It means anyone can build an amazing remote career as a developer in 2022, including those without a university education,” says Weiting Liu, CEO and founder of Arc.
The data gives weight to the growing trend of alternate education, which comes at the back of increasing disregard for traditional university education that normally begets large student debt. “In the US: 1 in 5 Gen Z-ers are not interested in going to college. The number of software engineers who acquired skills through informal upskilling has increased in the last two years,” says the report.
Bootcamp graduates outearn college graduates in their early careers
For the first three years of experience, employers pay global bootcamp graduates a higher median salary than developers with a bachelor’s degree receive:
0-1 years of experience: bootcamp graduates earn a median annual salary of $16,400 globally, which is 12% more than the median salary paid to a developer with a bachelor’s degree ($14,590). All data is in USD.
2-3 years of experience: bootcamp graduates earn $27,334, a median of 37% more than developers with a bachelor’s degree at $19,883.
“Bootcamps have a more practical focus, while degrees contain more theory. Developers who attend bootcamps are usually able to start working right away due to the practical experience they gained during the intensive training. Developers with degrees — especially without internship experience — may have more trouble landing a job after graduation, as they need time to build hands-on experience,” explains Jeff Lam, senior recruiting manager at Arc.
But there’s a catch. After three years of experience, the trend reverses:
4-5 years of experience: coding bootcamp developers earn the same ($32,000).
6-10 years of experience: programming bootcamp developers earn 25% less at $31,500 than developers with a bachelor’s degree ($42,000).
“If developers do not have a degree, their limited exposure to theoretical knowledge can hold them back from more technical and leadership roles,” adds Lam.
But bootcamp grads should not be discouraged — there is a way to get this foundational knowledge.
Self-Learning: Developer education choices affect what you earn
Autodidacts earn the lowest starting salary amongst their counterparts — but soon catch up.
0-1 years of experience: self-taught software developers earn 31% lower median salaries ($10,000) than developers with bachelor’s degrees.
2-3 years of experience: self-taught developers earn only 3% less ($19,250) than developers with bachelor’s degrees.
4-5 years of experience: self-taught developers ($33,000) outearn developers with bachelor’s degrees by 3%.
“From my experience, self-taught developers are very passionate about development and may have a lot of knowledge despite not having a formal education,” says Lam.
For those with over 16 years of experience, self-taught developers earn $63,000, a whopping 26% more than developers with a bachelor’s degree ($50,000) — and 10% more than developers with a master’s degree ($57,250).
Developers with a master’s degree are the best paid at all levels, except when out-earned by self-taught professionals.
The report answers one of the most frequently asked questions that those considering a career in the field ask: coding bootcamp vs degree. The findings show that anyone can thrive in the lucrative industry that has seen the hottest job market since the dot-com era — as long as they have a passion for coding and a learning mindset.