Should You Go to a Technology Boot Camp or a Trade School?

trade school vs coding bootcamp

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Have you ever worried about losing your job to a machine?

You’re not alone. A recent Pew Research study found that 72 percent of Americans are concerned about a future where robots and computers perform human jobs.[1]

But, rather than taking jobs from humans, technology is creating them—and quicker than companies can find workers to fill them. It’s also creating a need for technical skills to manage complex systems that rely on Artificial Intelligence and other innovations.

The situation is so dire, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts a shortage of more than 2 million workers with the right skills by 2020.[2]

Trade schools and technology boot camps are helping to solve the problem by quickly training workers for these jobs. These “new-collar” workers, as IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty calls them, are taking advantage of the labor shortage without having to put in the same amount of time and money for career preparation as their degree-holding counterparts.

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While both technology boot camps and trade schools offer a promising path to new-collar jobs, which route should you take? Comparing factors like career focus, cost, training time and job opportunities can help with this important decision.

Technology Boot Camp versus Trade School: Which Is Right for You?

Both technology boot camps and trade schools focus on quickly training students in the specific set of skills required for a particular career. Trade schools have been around much longer, originating in Europe in the late 18th century.[3]

Also known as vocational schools, these institutions provide career preparation for a wide array of fields: welding training, medical assisting programs, paralegal courses and much more.[4]

As the name suggests, technology boot camps offer training for computer science jobs, such as programming, web design and data science.[5] It’s a fairly new training format that’s gained popularity quickly. For example, the number of coding boot camps in the U.S. has tripled to over 90 since 2013.[6]

Quick career preparation is the main quality trade schools and tech boot camps have in common.

Training Time

The time it takes to complete trade school depends on the program but can range from 10 weeks or less to up to 2 years.[7] HVAC training in Jacksonville or Houston, for example, can be as short as 7 months.

Technology boot camps typically take 8 to 10 weeks.[8] Coding boot camps can take longer, however, with the average course lasting more than 14 weeks and some stretching to 26 weeks.[9]

Career Focus

Trade schools offer preparation for more types of careers than technology boot camps. You could study everything from cosmetology to plumbing to medical transcription at a vocational school.[10]

Technology boot camps focus on jobs in the tech sector, offering training for computer programming, web design and data analysis.[11]

The career focus is quite different for these two training paths. It’s important to consider what each career has to offer when weighing your options.

One apparent difference is sitting all day at a desk in an office for a tech job versus some of the active jobs trade schools can prepare you for.[12] Welders, electricians and massage therapists typically all do pretty physically engaging work.[13] When choosing training, think about what working in that career could be like and if that’s what you want.

Job Opportunities

The job opportunities waiting at the other end of trade school or technology boot camp can be good. Hiring managers are shifting their mindset in the face of the skills gap. Many don’t have time to wait for workers to spend 4 or more years in a university. They need trained applicants now, and trade schools and tech boot camps are supplying them.[14]

“A lot of companies that used to require a degree have changed their minds. Job seekers need to make an effort to educate themselves, there might be free courses online or ways to adapt the skills you do have,” explained Michelle Armer, the chief people officer at CareerBuilder.

Job Growth

Trade school and tech boot camps both offer training for quickly growing careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 24 percent job growth for software developers through 2026.[15] Pipefitters are projected to see 16 percent job growth and HVAC technicians 15 percent, according to the agency.[16][17]

Focus on the Career

If you want to enter the job market quickly with a competitive skillset, trade schools and technology boot camps can be viable options. When deciding between the two, think about how long you want to be in school and how much you can spend. But, most of all, consider the career you want, and which educational path can help get you there.

Are you leaning toward a career in the skilled trades? Tulsa Welding School is the largest welding school in the country and has been training students for careers in metal joining since 1949. Call us today to learn more about our technical training programs: (855) 237-7711.

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