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Starting a career in IT: university or courses/bootcamp?

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The IT field is hot. IT people get mind-blowing salaries, have the freedom to work from anywhere, flexible work schedules, and a lot of other benefits. Demand for more IT specialists is very high and increases day by day. This attracts a lot of people to start a career in the IT field.

Traditionally people used to study Computer Science or Computer Engineering at universities or colleges to become IT specialists. But nowadays there are many other opportunities to start a career in IT, like online courses, bootcamps, short-term courses. So, in this blog post, we’ll be discussing the pros and cons of each option from our point of view:

1. University degree

  • Fundamental knowledge of Computer Science, like:
    – Hardware
    – Operating systems
    – Networks
    – Databases
    – Algorithms and Data Structures
    – Programming languages and tools
    – Design and graphics theory
    – Math, combinatorics, etc.
    – Project management
  • Gives  opportunity to become a true engineer, if you have passion for this field
  • Social sphere:
    – Friends, networking
    – Social life, activities, and events
    – Meet future or potential colleagues
    – Certification, diploma


  • Education takes 4-5 years 
  • In the beginning, it might be boring, and interesting topics might be covered only in later years of education
  • The curriculum might be outdated because in IT things change very fast, technologies and tools are born and die every day
  • Doesn’t teach you product engineering and entrepreneurship skills, which are must-have, if you are an ambitious person and want to build your own IT business in future
  • It might be notably expensive 

2. Courses/Bootcamps


  • Duration is less than a year, usually 3-6-12 month
  • Much cheaper than university
  • You can find a job and start making money earlier


  • You learn only some narrow field of IT, like one programming language or one tool
  • No broad knowledge of the Computer Science/Engineering field
  • No social life and networking which you get in university
  • You need someone who can mentor and help you to detect, which other topics to learn

These days the border between university and courses/bootcamp graduates is being erased, as the IT industry is getting bigger, demand for IT specialists is higher, and roles splitting is increasing, so no need for broad knowledge is required anymore. Companies can afford to hire narrow specialists for each field and build effective teams.

First of all, not every person can become proficient in every field of IT, i.e. be a universal soldier. For that, you need to be very passionate about engineering and IT. But there are very few such people. So, even if you graduated from university, you are probably still going to be proficient only in one field of IT, however, you know the basics of other fields, and this knowledge will indeed help you to solve issues on your path. For example, if you are a backend or frontend programmer, and your web app doesn’t work due to some network issue or OS-related stuff, you can figure out those problems quickly. And in general, knowing how all the components and layers in software & hardware systems work helps you to design and build better software products.

If you started your career from courses/bootcamp, you still can become a strong engineer, if you have the curiosity and passion to keep learning new things in the IT field. Anyway in IT, learning new technologies and stuff never stops, no matter if you have a CS degree or not. Things in this field are changing and evolving so fast that your knowledge and experience will get outdated in ~5 years if you stop learning.

For most companies, it doesn’t matter if you have a university diploma or bootcamp certificate because in the IT field degrees don’t matter, only knowledge and experience matter. Diplomas might be needed only in rare cases like:

  • you live in other countries and want to get a work visa to the EU or the US (they require a diploma or several years of experience in IT)
  • you want to work in Governmental organizations

By the way, Google announced that they want to disrupt university degrees

So, which way to choose to start an IT career depends on your goals. If you just want to make good money and have all the other benefits of being an IT guy, then start from a course/bootcamp. If tech is not in your vein, you can later switch to some managerial roles or become an entrepreneur and found your startup and manage other IT people. Remember you can still become a strong engineer if you keep learning and improving your skills.

If you have a passion for engineering, tech, and innovations, and you want to tie your whole life to IT, then you definitely should go to university. Possible ways of your career are to become a tech lead, CTO, or found your tech startup, innovate and build new cool things.

No matter which way you choose, you’ll have to work hard, be honest, keep learning and deliver quality results, to still be a demanded specialist. 

This blog post is written by Abdysamat Mamutov
Full-Stack Product Engineer at Producement