of coding training program and bootcamp graduates found jobs within 180 days.
Change is happening in the world of higher education. The usual way of getting degrees is no longer the only path. Instead, online career training programs are gaining popularity.
To be fair, it’s a bit more nuanced than that. But the job market is shifting.
Persistent labor shortages and an ever-evolving tech landscape mean that higher education isn’t the shiny gold ticket to career success that it used to be.
Now let’s be clear: higher education still has a place in learning and development for job-seekers. But in decades past, it would have been standard to see higher education requirements in job postings, even for entry-level roles.
If we look back post-Great Recession, education requirements meant almost 2 in 3 Americans weren’t able to secure jobs that they otherwise would’ve been qualified for.
Fast forward to today, the job market is shifting to skills-based hiring rather than education institution-based hiring. From Google to Apple, many tech and Fortune 500 companies are no longer requiring college or university degrees as part of their hiring criteria. According to a 2022 Burning Glass Institute report, between 2017 and 2019, employers cut degree requirements for 46% of middle-skill and 31% of high-skill jobs.
In this new world of work, career training programs have quickly established themselves as a flexible and immersive solution for students to gain skills and certifications—without the time and cost commitment of traditional education.
So let’s dive into the world of online training programs and break down what this really means for you and your career.
What is an Online Career Training Program?
Online career training programs are accelerated programs that teach the specific skills you need to succeed in the world of tech. The goal of an online training program is to get you job-ready in a short period of time.
In an online career training program you’re taught the skills for a very specific area of work.
For example, if your goal is to be hired as a software developer, traditionally you’d go to school for computer science. Instead, an online coding training program would teach you specific programming languages, like Java or Rails, as well as other in-demand skills for programmers.
Coding training programs were some of the first to find their footing. You may also know them as coding bootcamps. But today there’s a wide range of subject areas and even more in-depth career training programs in the tech industry to choose from.
Some common types of online career training programs include:
- Coding training programs: Focusing on the coding skills, languages, and hands-on experience needed to enter the software engineering or web development industry.
- Data analytics training programs: Focusing on the analytics skills and visualization processes needed to become an effective data analyst.
- Data science training programs: Focusing on frameworks for predicting and using data, and developing new systems for interpreting and extracting data as a data scientist.
- Cybersecurity training programs: Focusing on network monitoring, security best practices, and how to detect vulnerabilities to prepare you to enter a wide variety of industries as a cybersecurity analyst.
- UX/UI design training programs: Focusing on the principles of UX and UI design, including user research and prototyping to transition into a role as a UX designer.
Online career training programs have not only made it easier for aspiring tech professionals to launch their careers but even make a complete career pivot—while getting access to the right training they need for their next role.
Career Training Programs vs Higher Education: What’s the Difference?
More and more aspiring tech professionals are choosing the career training program route over (or even in addition to) higher education. But why?
Well, there are a few reasons.
One of the biggest advantages of choosing a career training program is the cost.
The National Center for Education Statistics reports that a four-year undergraduate program at an in-state institution in the U.S. costs $37,500 in tuition. If you’re attending a private university, the cost of a degree program can easily climb above $200,000.
Career training programs for tech roles typically cost a small fraction of that amount.
Of course, how much you should expect to pay out of pocket for a career training program can vary depending on the type of course and the course provider. A quick Google search will surface courses available for as low as $1,000.
However, if you’re looking for a more robust and reputable program, the cost of an online career training program will likely fall in the $10,000-$15,000 range.
Shorter Time Commitment
Another pro to choosing a career training program? The time it takes to earn a certification.
Carving out the time for a full-time four-year (or even two-year) program can be difficult. This is particularly true if you’re already working full-time and looking to switch careers. While there are often part-time study options, these typically extend the time it takes for you to complete your degree.
The goal of a career training program is to get you hire-ready in as little time as possible, without sacrificing your education. These programs typically last anywhere from a few weeks to a six month career training program.
There are some full-time intensive career training programs out there. But most tech training programs are often geared toward people who are still employed full-time, so you’ll find many part-time or even self-study tech programs online. They’re meant to be flexible, which is why it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll find a program that works for you.
And let’s not forget to factor in the commute. Traditional degree programs are also typically held in-person, which can either increase the time commitment or even limit your program options.
While there are in-person career training programs, there are equally (if not more) online options so you can switch from work to your program courses in just a few clicks.
Alternative Curriculum and Learning Structure
Career training programs and higher education also typically take a different approach to what you’re learning and how you’re learning it.
Higher education curriculums tend to take more of a theoretical approach to learning. Courses are often centered around a certain career path, for example engineering or computer science. The curriculum is often less about the specific skills, but rather helping you develop critical thinking and problem solving skills that can be used in a wide range of potential jobs.
Most higher-education programs also aim to provide a well-rounded education, meaning you’ll often need to take courses that aren’t directly related to your area of study. This can be extremely beneficial in helping you build a foundation for the subject matter and prepare you for further learning. But more courses also equal more time.
Career training programs, on the other hand, focus on the specific competencies and skills required for you to succeed in the role or niche that you’ve chosen. Many online career training programs also like to take a hands-on approach, where you’ll work on projects that might look very similar to those you’ll take on after you graduate.
This unique approach lends to producing employment-ready grads. It also means training program graduates often have tangible experience under their belts that they can use as part of their portfolio to land an entry-level tech job.
In fact, this learning style is so effective, that many higher education institutions have started partnering with top-tier training programs and bootcamps to better prepare students for highly-technical and fast-growing roles.
The different approach to learning also means that if you have a higher education degree in a similar area, a career training program can often still be beneficial. So it’s not uncommon for university or college grads to take online career training programs later on in life to further their skills and boost their employment prospects.
Access to Career Support
Career training programs want you to get hired into your dream job. So they’ll typically provide you with extra support to make sure you get there.
Well-established online career training programs have connections within the tech industry that can boost students and grads beyond just building the right hard skills.
This extra layer of support plays a huge part in helping students transition quicker into the job market. A recent study by the CIRR said about 71% of coding training program and bootcamp graduates found jobs within 180 days.
Many online career training programs offer:
- Career services such as resume reviews, interview prep, and portfolio guidance
- Workshops, events, and post-graduate learning opportunities
- Networking and mentorship opportunities
- Partnerships with top tech companies and hiring partners
- Future career support, including salary negotiation, navigating promotions, and beyond
It’s clear that online career training programs come with some pretty awesome benefits. But it leads us to the all-important question…
Are Online Tech Training Programs Worth it?
In most cases, yes. Online career training programs have become popular because of their success in launching the careers of many tech professionals. And it’s no surprise, the right training program can be game-changing when it comes to taking your tech skills to the next level.
Sure, tech training programs aren’t a 1-for-1 replacement for higher education degrees. And there are still jobs that benefit from university or post-graduate degrees. But overall, the expectation continues to shift in favor of skills-based hiring—especially for entry-level tech roles.
Over the last decade, tech career training programs have become widely accepted as a solid alternative for job seekers looking to give themselves a competitive advantage in their careers. They’re often equally, if not more, valuable forms of education in the eyes of many top tech employers around the world.
According to CareerKarma, in 2021 Amazon alone hired over 1,000 bootcamp or career training program grads. And that number is likely even larger today. Not to mention the other top companies hiring grads from career training programs.
And if you’re asking if tech is a good career—well, today’s tech job market is growing and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
It’s official, the age of the tech training program is here.
And no matter which path you choose, take that step with confidence knowing that with a little hard work and determination your future career in tech will be bright.