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Data science is a lucrative career space. According to the BLS, the average data scientist earns $98,230 annually, with some high-earning individuals earning $165,230 annually. According to a McKinsey report, the demand for data science grew at a rate of 12% in 2016, with a shortage of 250,000 data scientists expected in the US by 2024.

These compelling figures are part of the reasons why some people opt to pursue a data science career. We have developed this guide to help you understand how data science boot camps can help you build and scale your career.

So let’s start with the basics.

What Is a Data Science Boot Camp?

Whether you are considering a data science transition, you will need the right set of skills to help you navigate the discipline. You can acquire these data science skills through various certification programs including a traditional degree or a boot camp. Each comes with its advantages and disadvantages. But for this article, we will focus on online data science boot camps.

A data science bootcamp is a short-term, intensive program designed to prepare you for a data science career. Data science boot camps come in all shapes and sizes to meet the diverse needs learners have.

These include part-time, full-time, self-paced, and instructor-led programs. Now, with advancements in technology, you can find these boot camps online to access at your convenience.

Let’s look briefly at each type of data science boot camp:

Full-time boot camps

These are ideal for learners who want the full intense learning experience. Learners in a full-time boot camp can dedicate up to 40 hours per week to learning. Due to the intensity of these boot camps, you can crush any ambitions of working, even part-time while learning. Flatiron School is an example of an institution offering a full-time online data science program. Flatiron School also offers a flexible, part-time data science boot camp.

Part-time boot camps

Part-time boot camps are ideal for those who want a flexible schedule to learn and work. They require about 20 hours per week, which is a manageable commitment for those holding full-time jobs. While they take longer to complete, part-time boot camps may be less expensive than full-time bootcamps.

The Georgia Tech Data Science and Analytics Boot Camp is a good example of a part-time program. Learners in the program attend evening and weekend classes over 24 weeks.

Self-paced

Do you love the freedom to learn on your terms? Self-paced data science boot camps could be the best fit for you. These programs allow you to learn at your pace and when you find the time. Some data science boot camps are also designed to target individuals of different backgrounds. For example, those who want to build on their statistics and programming background can explore the 100% online data science boot camp from the University of North Florida.

The bottom line is, having an aptitude for math and statistics makes it easier when learning in data science boot camps. However, you could come from any academic background or program, as long as you are ready to put in the work it takes to become a data science professional.

What to Expect from a Data Science Boot Camp?

Whether you choose a full-time, part-time, or self-paced data science boot camp, you can expect to learn similar curriculum:

  • Data cleaning and transformation
  • R programming
  • Python programming
  • Databases
  • Importing libraries
  • Machine learning (supervised learning, unsupervised learning, and deep learning)
  • Coding
  • Fundamental statistics
  • Front-end web visualization
  • Business intelligence software
  • Big data analytics
  • Capstone projects and other hands-on projects

In addition to a curriculum, different programs offer support services to help you during and after the boot camp. BrainStation, for example, provides career services and accountability programs to support its learners as they build their data science careers.

Rutgers Center for Innovative Education also offers its students extensive career services. These services provided by Rutgers cover portfolio reviews, soft skills training, resume support, interview training, social media profile support, and access to an alumni network and skill development opportunities. The University of New Hampshire also offers student support programs for its boot camp learners. Those eyeing further education by pursuing a boot camp can go for options such as the SMU Continuing and Professional Education data science boot camp, which gives credit for boot camp learners who want to pursue a Master of Science in Data Science at SMU.

How Much Do Data Science Boot Camps Cost?

The cost of an online data science boot camp varies depending on the institution and the type of boot camp. In general, full-time boot camps carry a higher tuition than part-time or self-paced ones. You’ll find, however, that full-time and part-time boot camps are a lower tuition than traditional academic degrees, with a median cost of $11,900. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot access financial aid, or take advantage of various financial programs and discounts for data science bootcamps.

Springboard offers a self-paced data science bootcamp, which you pay for only after securing a data science job. Programs like the Metis data science programs offer different financing plans for learners as follows:

  • Up-front payment
  • Zero-interest installment plans
  • Financing plans through its lending partners
  • A $3000 scholarship for women, veterans of the U.S. military, members of underrepresented groups, and the LGBTQ community.

Some boot camps also provide income-sharing agreements to help you pay for your data science boot camp.

Benefits of Online Data Science Boot Camps?

Boot camps are one of the alternatives to fast-track your career without pursuing an academic degree. But why would you choose a data science boot camp over a traditional academic program? Here are the benefits of an online data science boot camp:

Flexibility

Online data science boot camps are highly flexible. They offer convenient access to your classes at a time most suitable to you. Part-time and self-paced programs are more flexible than full-time ones.

The flexibility of an online coding bootcamp does not stop here. Online boot camp instructors will typically adapt the curriculum to reflect changes in the industry, faster than academic programs can. The University of Pennsylvania College of Liberal and Professional Studies and School of Engineering and Applied Science is a good example of a data science boot camp whose curriculum changes often to reflect industry developments.

Faster Career Preparedness

Data science boot camps are intentionally designed to provide the required skills in a shorter time. These accelerated programs mean that you are ready for your next career path in a shorter time than it would take with an online or traditional academic program.

In addition, according to the self-reported data from bootcamp providers, graduates report an increase in salary within three to six months of graduation. Since most data science bootcamp programs provide access to career services and alumni, you have the opportunity to find a job in data science faster through networking directly with the bootcamp provider.

You Establish a Professional Network

Online data science boot camps provide access to other professionals on the same path as you. These could be your classmates, study groups, instructors, or speakers at these boot camps. Forming connections with these professionals broadens your understanding of the field. Your professional network could also be the link to your next job.

You Gain In-Demand Data Science Skills

Data science boot camps are highly flexible. Their curriculum evolves fast to match the changing industry. As such, completing an online data science boot camp means you are learning the most in-demand and critical skills for your data science career.

Some of the skills you learn in these boot camps include data science programming, data analytics, statistical programming, probability and statistics, statistical visualization, machine learning among others. Some data science boot camps are designed to offer you in-demand skills in the shortest time possible. This bootcamp program from IE Universidad offers an intensive two-day boot camp focused on R programming.

Bootcamp Graduation May Add Value on Your Resume

Increasingly high profile employers are turning to bootcamp graduates to find and hire rising talent. Disclosing your bootcamp educational experience and listing the projects you completed and skills you obtained from your boot camp will make a difference in your job search efforts. The New Jersey Institute of Technology provides a hands-on data science and analytics curriculum that exposes learners to real-world projects. If these projects are a match to a potential employer, they are more likely to hire you.

This means that, even as you complete your data science boot camp, you should develop unique projects based on real-world problems in the industry you want to work in. Highlighting these projects in your resume is proof that you can apply the skills you learned.

In addition to these general benefits, some programs are designed to benefit a certain set of individuals. Therefore, you want to look at the people who would benefit most from a program before you enroll. A good example is UNM Continuing Education’s online data science program which targets people with an interest in data science and data engineering, with knowledge of at least one programming language. The program offers pre-boot camp materials to those who don’t meet the prerequisites.

The Curriculum of Data Science Boot Camps

Data science boot camps are often designed with beginners in mind. These beginners may have a high aptitude for math, but lack the information technology skill sets required for a data science career. Most data science boot camps tailor their curriculums to these learners from the outset of curriculum design. While this does not mean that it won’t be hard work to learn, the process is easier than when you go at it yourself.

Let’s look at how a few data science programs structure their classes and curriculum:

BrainStation Online Data Science Boot Camp

BrainStation’s data science boot camp is designed to provide an in-depth study into data science in addition to providing learners with hands-on experience and insights from industry professionals.

Its curriculum covers the following units:

  • Fundamentals of data analysis and visualization
  • Analysis for data science
  • Machine learning techniques
  • Big data fundamentals with machine learning
  • Professional development (learners gain agile thinking, data science portfolio development, design thinking, whiteboarding, career acceleration, and presentation & communication skills.)

The program is available full-time and part-time. Full-time classes run from Monday to Friday, usually from 10 am to 6 pm. Part-time classes are held on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

NYU Tandon School of Engineering Data Science Boot Camp

NYU Tandon data science boot camp offers programs for beginners and advanced learners. The beginner program covers:

  • Python introduction
  • SQL
  • Pandas
  • Exploratory Data analysis
  • ML
  • Project/Hackathon

The advanced program covers:

  • Advanced SQL
  • Tableau visualization
  • ML
  • Project/Hackathon

Coding Dojo Online Data Science Part-Time Bootcamp

Coding Dojo’s data science boot camp is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of data science and machine learning. The program runs for 12 weeks. The program for each week is as follows:

  • Week 1: Foundations in Python
  • Week 2: Manipulating and understanding data
  • Week 3: Foundations of Data Modeling and Introduction to Machine Learning
  • Week 4: Statistical inference
  • Week 5: Introduction to machine learning
  • Week 6: Decision Trees and Random Forests
  • Week 7: Logistic Regression and Regularization
  • Week 8: KMeans, Hierarchical Clustering, and DBSCAN
  • Week 9: Use of Dimensionality Reduction
  • Week 10: Gradient Boosting Algorithms and Kaggle Competitions
  • Week 11: Using SQL with Python
  • Week 12: Deep learning Frameworks

In addition to the curriculum, the program is designed to provide you with the relevant data science skills, best practices, tools, and a portfolio of projects to demonstrate your skills. Throughout the learning period, you have access to:

  • Live learning
  • Small group code reviews
  • TA support
  • Student services
  • Flexible payment options

What Skills Will You Learn in a Data Science Bootcamp?

Data science boot camps are designed to provide you with the in-demand data science skills that will help you in your career. Some of the skills you will learn include:

Statistics

Statistics is a fundamental data science skill. Some of the statistics concepts you will cover in a data science boot camp include distribution curves, standard deviation, statistical analysis, and probability. Statistical skills allow you to collect, analyze, interpret and present data and draw useful insights.

Multivariable Calculus and Linear Algebra

Data science professionals use mathematical concepts in their everyday responsibilities. Therefore, data science bootcamps will equip you with these skills to help you apply mathematical concepts to solve complex data problems.

Programming and Coding

Data science boot camps teach a variety of programming languages, particularly SQL, Python, and R. Some boot camps teach additional programming languages including C, C++, and Java.

Predictive modeling

With predictive modeling skills, you can identify patterns in existing data to draw conclusions and make predictions on future events, results, or behavior.

Machine Learning and Deep Learning

Companies are looking for data scientists who will help them implement various machine learning applications. Therefore, having a specialized skill in different machine learning concepts puts you at an advantage in the job market.

Data Visualization

Data visualization skills allow you to use data storytelling to explain insights from a large set of data. Without data visualization skills, it becomes harder to communicate these insights to stakeholders who rely on data for decision-making.

In addition to technical skills, data science bootcamps equip you with soft skills such as the following:

  • Business knowledge
  • Problem-solving
  • Curiosity
  • Critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Collaboration

How to Determine If an Online Data Science Boot Camp Is Right for You?

Where should you start? How do you prepare for a data science boot camp? Which bootcamp program is the best for you?

It is normal to ask these questions when you are considering a career transition to data science. In this section, we will provide you with tips to help you make the best decision for your career.

Let’s start with what you need to know before you attend any data science boot camp.

What You Should Know Before Attending a Data Science Bootcamp

When you look through different online data science boot camps, you’ll realize that most bootcamp programs do not require prior experience in data science. However, this does not mean that you should enroll without preparation or foundational knowledge.

As any data science professional will tell you, learning data science requires time and dedication. Thus, creating the need for preparation before the program. Preparation begins with knowing certain things before the program. At a minimum, you should have an understanding of:

  • What online data science boot camps include in their curriculums.
  • What the foundational skills are necessary to understand the concepts taught. Consider taking a data science course online or a prep course in python, statistics and/or probability, and math.

Data Science Boot Camp vs. a Data Science Undergraduate Degree

Historically, undergraduate degrees have been the path to the job market. However, with certain careers in technology, this is rapidly evolving. Employers are as comfortable hiring boot camp graduates as they are working with college graduates evident in a recent ZDNet article of June 2021.

These program types have some key differences and these differences could influence whether you prefer to take a data science degree or learn through a data science boot camp.

Here are the key differences between a data science degree and a data science boot camp:

Data Science Degree

A data science degree is a formal university program that requires up to four years to complete at the undergraduate level. Degrees that prepare you for a data science career could include computer science, applied math, statistics, or related degrees.

In addition to the time commitment, formal university degrees will require higher investment in tuition compared to boot camps. However, data science degrees may come with greater breadth of specialization or tracks while carrying the brand reputation of the university.

Here’s a summary of the pros of pursuing a data science program:

  • You learn from instructors with extensive academic experience in data science
  • Degree programs approach learning formally and provide graded feedback to track your progress
  • You gain in-depth knowledge in various aspects of data science
  • You can choose a specialization to focus on
  • Brand reputation of the university and alumni network may provide significant value

The cons include:

  • You will need to meet certain academic requirement to be accepted into the university and possibly additional requirements to be accepted into the degree program
  • Tuition is expensive, with most learners paying off student debt over a span of decades
  • The time investment required is often substantial (as much as four years)
  • Most formal degrees require you to relocate near the campus for in-class courses
  • Academic institutions take time to adopt industry changes into the curriculum, meaning you may be learning from an outdated curriculum
  • Universities are slow to adopt innovative payment methods (such as ISAs and deferred tuition) and likely won’t guarantee job placement after graduation

Now, Let’s Review Data Science Boot Camps

Data science boot camps are short, intensive programs that prepare you for a data science career. These programs require a brief time investment. Due to the short time frame, they require intense engagement with your learning materials and projects.

Data science boot camps are ideal for learners who want to get into the data science field as soon as possible. You may consider a boot camp over a university degree program if you feel that four years is a long time or the tuition costs are too high.

Here are some pros of a data science boot camp:

  • Boot camps offer flexibility, with some allowing you to study part-time as you work
  • They are less expensive than an undergraduate degree while offering students payment methods such as deferred tuition and income sharing agreements (ISAs)
  • Their curriculums evolve faster to match industry skills
  • Data science boot camps are more focused on practical learning

With data science boot camps, however, you might find it harder to remain committed. Some boot camps might also not meet the rigorous standards of formal institutions. But, with the right information, you can weed out low-quality boot camps.

Here are some tips to help you choose a high-quality online data science boot camp:

  • Create a career plan. Actively evaluate how soon you want to start your data science career and the kind of career progression you seek.
  • Determine how much you have to pay for bootcamp tuition. Evaluate private loan options, ask your employer about tuition reimbursement plans, explore grants and scholarships, and DO your homework on income share agreements and deferred tuition plans.
  • Figure out your work schedule. If you are currently working, are you willing to resign in order to pursue a boot camp full time? Or would you rather pursue a part-time boot camp and continue working?
  • Assess your learning style and curriculum interests. Narrow boot camp programs which best support your preferred learning style. Decide what specialization or discipline within data science to focus on and evaluate bootcamps offering those courses or learning modules.
  • Check the prerequisites. Make sure you qualify before you “fall in love” with any given bootcamp.
  • Ask questions and talk to current students and recent alumni. Make sure to “interview” the bootcamp provider. Remember that you are their customer! Ask them about their graduation outcomes (what percent of students who enroll go on to graduate), inquire about their job placement track record (how many graduates gain employment in the data science field and how long does it typically take to find employment), and ask to speak with recent graduates who’ve gained employment. Conduct your own reconnaissance by researching bootcamp reviews websites which publish student reviews and go onto LinkedIn and Glassdoor to read professional reviews.

Narrowing a List of the Best Online Data Science Boot Camps

In 2021, you can discover data science boot camps from private, for-profit companies as well as universities. This section will summarize several of the best data science boot camps to help you jump start your own research. Remember there is no “best data science bootcamp,” it’s important to find the best data science bootcamps for you.

While we’ve highlighted some of these programs in other sections of the article. This section will provide additional programs. You’ll notice that many of these data science bootcamp programs have several common aspects:

  • They are expert-led (professionals and not academics)
  • They provide post-graduation career support and alumni access
  • They provide practical data science skills that matter in the workplace
  • They provide graduation outcomes and job placement testimonials

University Data Science Bootcamp Programs

San Diego State University Global CAmpus Data Science and Analytics Professional Bootcamp

The SDSU Global Campus Data Science and Analytics Professional Boot Camp prepares students with the skills and practical expertise to prepare students for a data science career. The boot camp includes three sections: data-driven storytelling, data wrangling & analytics, and data science & business intelligence. After covering these sections, students will complete two milestone projects and one capstone project. Students can upload their final project on GitHub as part of their professional portfolio.

UCLA Extension Data Science Certificate

UCLA offers its Data Science Certificate through an intensive self-paced program that students can complete in 6-24 months at a tuition fee of $3,980. The intensive program lasts 10 weeks and tuition is $4,700.

Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth

Dartmouth Engineering partnered with Emeritus to offer a professional certificate in applied data science. The program lasts 6 months and tuition is $12,500. Students can receive a discount of $500 if they have a referral.

Stanford University Data Science Bootcamp

Stanford offers a 6-day live, online data science boot camp to provide students with a deeper understanding of the foundational Python libraries. Students must possess basic Python programming skills to be eligible for enrolling in their boot camp. The full program tuition is $1,200.

Private, For-Profit Bootcamp Programs

Here’s a list of reputable data science boot camp programs from private for-profit companies:

  1. The Data Science Course 2021: Complete Data Science Bootcamp on Udemy is priced at under $100 and offers a 30-day money back guarantee. This program includes nearly 30 hours of on-demand video content and over 500 downloadable resources. This course was last updated in November 2021.
  2. Thinkful online data science boot camp is a part-time, 6-month online self-paced program that provides students with one-on-one mentorship. Students should plan to set aside 15-20 hours per week. The tuition costs $9,500 when paid upfront or alternatively students can select from multiple payment options including: $2,000 month-to-month ($12,000 total), or deferred tuition ($0 to start and then up to $18,000 via $400 to $500 monthly payments only after the graduates secures a job paying $40,000 or more annually).
  3. Byte Academy offers a data science boot camp and a free introductory to python course. Byte is one of the bootcamp providers offering the “no tuition until you are hired and earn more than $40,000” to attract students.
  4. Datacamp offers several self-paced data science courses that provide students with hands-on experience and complementary skills for a data science career.Students can try a course for free with paid plans starting from $25/month (or less if paid for annually).
  5. Data Science Dojo offers a 16-week data science boot camp program that features dedicated instructor office hours, competitions during the program, and access to curriculum after graduation. Upon graduation, students receive a certificate from University of New Mexico (UNM) worth 7 Continuing Education Credits at UNM.
  6. Lighthouse Labs offers a comprehensive full-time data science boot camp which requires 40 hours per week for 12 consecutive weeks and requires a 70 hour prep module. The Lighthouse Labs data science bootcamp is regulated by the Private Training Institutions Branch of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training in Canada.
  7. Deep Dive offers a 12-week boot camp that prepares learners for a career in data science and python programming. Graduates will receive a certificate of completion and Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) from Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) which can be applied to a future degree program at CNM.
  8. Le wagon offers full-time 9-week and part-time 24-week programs that immerse students in various data science disciplines. The boot camp from Le wagon offers pre-boot camp prep work to help students test their data science competency level and refresh certain skills prior to attending the intensive bootcamp.
  9. Analytics Vidhya offers a data science boot camp with the option of completing an internship to hone skills further. The program is tailored to recent graduates and young professionals who want to dive into the world of data science. This 7-month bootcamp is limited to 50 students and offers a 100% job guarantee for those who are eligible.

Here is a list of additional data science bootcamp and related programs from private for-profit companies:

Jump Starting Your Career Started with a Data Science Boot Camp

For people who do not want to commit to a full-time undergraduate degree program, a data science boot camp may be the best alternative. These boot camps require a shorter time and are often more hands-on, providing you with the relevant data science skills and expertise you need to take your career forward.

As a reminder, choose a data science bootcamp that best fits your career goals, budget, and learning style - don’t get caught up in thinking about “the best.”