Three ways to learn coding

⏳ 19.07.2023

Where Should You Learn to Code; University, Bootcamp, or 42 Berlin?

As the demand for software engineers increases, so does the number of paths available to learn how to code. It doesn’t take much to see that the tech world is evolving rapidly, and this means that the skills software engineers need to thrive are evolving too. In Germany alone, the number of tech employees has grown by 40% since 2010. What’s more, there are about 100,000 open positions waiting to be filled by capable software engineers.

Inundation of information seems to be the theme of our time, but we’ve tried to boil things down and simplify where the differences lie between the three common paths you may already have in mind if you’re thinking about becoming a software engineer:

Should you enrol at University? Is an intensive boot camp the way to go? Or is 42 Berlin the new home for your learning?

We sat down with some students who have experience in the respective options to tell us some defining features that may be a make or break when it comes to deciding which one is for you. Let’s go!

Please note: the below points of course do not always apply, however these seem to be the general rules for options below. 

Thank you so much to Fatma (Student of Humboldt University of Berlin & 42 Berlin), Aurelie, (Completed a bootcamp in Data Science & now student of 42 Berlin) and Dan (Completed his piscine at 42 Paris & now Pedago lead at 42 Berlin) for their insights.

Who can study? 

University: Those who have graduated from high school and have a C level certificate in relevant language, along with a certain grade average depending on the chosen university. 

Bootcamp: Pretty much anyone with the motivation and time.

42 Berlin: Anyone over 18 years old.

What do you need to do to get in?

University: You must pass the arbeiter.

Bootcamp: Usually there is some kind of test to make sure you have the interest and basic abilities. 

42 Berlin: You first have to play an online cognitive game to ensure you have basic cognitive abilities, and then you must come to campus in Neukölln for a one-month selection test (The Piscine) to see if our peer-learning method works for you. 

How much does it cost?

University: Tuition can range from 100 euro per semester, to a lot more, for a masters programme. 

Bootcamp: Boot camps can be quite expensive. For 2-3 months, they can cost 10,000-12,000 euros. But generally the agentur arbeit sponsors it and most students don’t have to pay themselves. 

42 Berlin: Totally free, no paperwork needed.

How long does it take to graduate?

University: 3-4 years.

Bootcamp:  About 2-3 months, depending on the boot camp. 

42 Berlin: Up to 5 years if you want to be trained up to masters level, but students can leave after the core curriculum (12-18 months) or when they get a job. 

How much time is needed to devote to it?

University: Usually 4 days a week. 

Bootcamp: Full time commitment, including weekends and evenings. 

42 Berlin: 

Can it be done remotely?

University: No.

Bootcamp: No.

42 Berlin: No. You can work remotely from time to time, but not on a permanent basis. 

How do you learn?

University: Through lectures and independent research. 

Bootcamp: Project based learning in a traditional manner, i.e. teacher and lecture format.

42 Berlin: Peer-learning and group projects. No teachers or lectures; the focus is placed on how the answer is found, rather than the answer itself. 

What do you learn aside from hard skills?

University: Not that much. 

Bootcamp: Not much more, hard skills are the focus. 

42 Berlin: Soft skills, teamwork and communication are hugely important at 42 Berlin as they are essential for future careers. Autonomy and inner organisation are nourished throughout. 

What do you receive when you graduate?

University: A bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Bootcamp: A certificate from your bootcamp. 

42 Berlin: A certification that you have completed the curriculum and/or specialisation and the skills needed to complete coding interviews. 

What kind of jobs can you apply to after graduation?

University: Junior level IT jobs.

Bootcamp: Junior to mid-level IT jobs or internships.

42 Berlin: After the core curriculum; junior level developer jobs. After specialisation; mid to senior level IT jobs. 

Do you receive support in finding a job?

University: No.

Bootcamp: They have career services, but they are limited and usually search is done independently. 

42 Berlin: Yes, there are many workshops on how to build a CV and portfolio throughout curriculum. 42 also has partner companies that want 42 students, but there is no obligation to work with them. We have job boards open to our students that other companies can post on. 

*** Disclaimer: In this interview, the Technical University Berlin and Humboldt University of Berlin were considered. Situations and facts may of course change and differ across universities. *** 


Et voila! What do you think? 

Of course there’s no hard and fast rule for any of these programmes and the answers vary across different places. But nonetheless, all answers are based on each interviewee’s real life experience and we hope they have helped you in your decision. Please watch their interviews in full here.

There is no perfect answer and you must do what feels right. If you feel like 42 Berlin stood out to you as a choice that may be right for you, we hold frequent campus tours and introduction talks on campus that may help you get a better feel for our school. We highly recommend you watch our introduction video here to get a comprehensive overview of who we are, how we run and what you can expect from your studies. 

We hope this was helpful and please let us know if we have helped you make a choice for the future coder in you. We wish you the best of luck and maybe we’ll even see you on campus soon! 


Catch ya next time. 

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