Bootcamps vs. Certificates vs. Degrees

Bootcamp, certificate, or degree? This is one of the major questions you'll face when you're ready for a new job or new career. We break down the differences.

March 15, 2022 · 2 Min Read

Bootcamps vs. Certificates vs. Degrees

Bootcamp, certificate, or degree? This might be one of the major questions you'll face when you're ready for a new job, a new career, or a potential raise or promotion.

However, these options aren't cut and dry. Even within each type of education path, there is a ton of variety. For instance, a free analytics certificate might only take a weekend to complete, while a paralegal certificate can take up to two years of intensive work.

The same is true for cost. A bachelor's degree at a public college might run you a little more than $25,000, but a private college can cost you over $53,000 for the same major.

In general, you'll want to keep these considerations in mind when choosing your education option:

To help you decide, here's how each education path breaks down.

Bootcamps vs. Certificates vs. Degrees

Education types

Alternate education

Bootcamps
Bootcamps are short-term programs to quickly level up skills in a specific field. Many bootcamps are in tech, such as coding and web design.

Certificate
Certificates are short-term programs in many subjects, such as marketing, business, and health care. They're useful for upskilling in a current role or switching careers entirely.

Traditional education

Associate degree
Associate degrees are short college degrees that can be used to enter a specific industry or build credits before pursuing a more advanced degree.

Bachelor’s degree
Bachelor’s degrees are the most common level of degree pursued, and often the most accepted level of education among employers.

Master’s degree
Master’s degrees are advanced college degrees after completing a bachelor’s degree. They are often specialized in a field of study.

Time commitment

Alternate education

Bootcamps
Average of 14 weeks

Certificate
Generally under a year

Traditional education

Associate degree
Two years

Bachelor’s degree
Four years

Master’s degree
Two years

Cost

Alternate education

Bootcamps
Average cost of $11,727 for the total program.

Certificate
Free to $5,000 for the total program, depending on the speciality.

Traditional education

Associate degree
Average cost of $3,372 to $17,294 per year, depending on if it’s a public or private institution.

Bachelor’s degree
Average cost between $25,615 to $53,949 per year, depending on if it’s a public or private institution.

Master’s degree
Average cost between $27,250 to $40,550 per year, depending on the program.

Outcomes

Alternate education

Bootcamps
The average salary of a coding bootcamp grad is $69,000.

Around 79% of coding bootcamp grads report finding employment in programming careers.

Certificate
The salaries of certificate-based jobs vary greatly. For instance, on average, EMTs make $29,300 a year, air traffic controllers make $47,202 a year, and real estate brokers make $71,287 a year.

Certificate programs are often used for upskilling for raises or better job prospects.

Traditional education

Associate degree
The median salary of an AA grad is $48,780.

The employment rate of someone with an AA degree is 93%.

Bachelor’s degree
The median salary of a BA grad is $67,860.

The employment rate of someone with a BA degree is 95%.

Master’s degree
The median salary of a MA grad is $80,340.

The employment rate of someone with a MA degree is 96%.

Sources: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Association of Community Colleges, Education Data Initiative, Business Wire, Course Report, Career Karma, Indeed