Can Boot Camps Turn You Into A Software Developer Or Do You Need A University Degree?


By Ty Moodley

Throughout my career, I have worked with many talented developers who have not had any formal University degrees. I have also worked with people who have attended some of the best Ivy League Universities such as Harvard, Duke, and University of Texas at Austin. The one thing that differentiates the former from the latter is a piece of paper.

What some people don’t understand is that technology is constantly changing. If you don’t adapt, then you will fail. If you don’t enjoy learning, then you will become a technology dinosaur and eventually become extinct.


A few years ago, I decided to learn Flex. A flash-based technology that was like WinForms development. It was an easy to use framework. You could simply drag and drop controls onto a canvas and you would have a fully working system ready for production. Eventually they came out with a Rich Internet Application (RIA) version which allowed you to build multi-platform apps for Android, IOS, and Windows.

I decided that this was the technology to learn so I embarked on a 6-month learning journey. Once I became proficient with the technology, Steve Jobs made an announcement that killed the platform. He announced that Flash would no longer be supported on IOS devices. That news ended Flex’s future and I had lost my 6-month investment.

As you can tell, Software Development is not for the faint hearted. If you don’t mind learning something for 6 months and then throwing it away because the industry changes then run. Stop reading this article and start learning accounting or start painting.

The point that I am making is that if you enjoy programming and don’t mind learning a new technology every six months then this might be the right career for you.

What is a Boot Camp?

[Editorial Note: Please do not confuse this with the narrative on the Startup Boot Camp that we have been talking about which is coming to Harare next week Wednesday, February 28th}

Over 60 boot camps have opened in the past 10 years to meet the growing demand for software developers. These programs—usually 8 to 12 weeks long and costing $500 on average—offer hands-on training, career guidance and community support, and the opportunity to work on personal projects you can showcase to prospective employers.

They’re like trade schools for the digital age. Although they can be a great way to become a professional coder, boot camps aren’t for everyone.

Graduates of boot camps surveyed by Course Report had an average 44% boost in income after attending the boot camp. (The survey included 432 graduates from 48 programming schools.) Before attending the boot camp, 48% were employed full-time, and after attending the boot camp, 63% were employed full-time. Most boot camps surveyed offer career services such as resume assistance or internship/apprenticeship placement.

Most importantly, lets remember that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg don’t have university degrees. Some may argue that they are both geniuses, but the reality is that they don’t have those pieces of paper. Who knows, maybe you will develop the next Facebook but one thing that is clear you need to learn and learn a great deal…

About Guest Author Ty Moodley

Ty was born and raised in Harare Zimbabwe. He went to Prince Edward School where he received a Technology Award at some point before heading to the US for university. He came back in 2004 to found a successful technology company that is still operational in Zim before going back to North America

He has been building software for the past 15 years and has worked for large software engineering firms in Harare, Austin TX, Raleigh NC, Toronto ON, Waterloo ON.

Ty has seen how software can help companies, cities, and governments create efficient processes and save money. He currently works for GHD, a large engineering firm that has over 10000 employees worldwide.  

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