Is a Data Analytics Bootcamp Worth It?

Industry Advice Analytics

Data touches every facet of our modern lives. 

Two and a half quintillion bytes of data are produced every day—a number so great that 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years. Each data point collected offers today’s businesses an opportunity to better understand customer behavior and capitalize on these insights to reach their organizational goals. 

Consider these examples of how companies use data to facilitate their business:

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But simply collecting this data is not enough. In order to effectively put this data to use, businesses need analysts who can distill actionable insights and inform corporate strategy. 

With this in mind, you might be wondering whether or not data analytics could have a role to play in your career. Moreover, what would be the best way to learn the skills that you’ll need to be successful in a word that is growing increasingly data-driven with each passing day?

Attending a data analytics bootcamp is one of several educational options that could help you jumpstart your career in analytics. Read on to determine if a data analytics bootcamp is right for you.

What is a Data Analytics Bootcamp?

The exact structure of a data analytics bootcamp—the duration, curriculum, etc.—will vary depending on the specifics of the program. Bootcamps, however, are typically characterized as short, intensive academic programs designed to quickly teach the student a particular subject. 

Some data analytics bootcamps are designed to teach participants the basics of working with data. Others are designed to delve much deeper into a particular subject area—for example, data collection methods or specific analysis models. For that reason, if you are considering attending a bootcamp, it’s critical that you are certain the bootcamp will align to your particular needs and goals.

Why Attend a Data Analytics Bootcamp?

1. Positive Job Outlook

As previously mentioned, businesses of all types and from all industries now use data to inform their corporate strategy. All of this data is empty information without data analysts—people who can analyze, organize, and interpret it. These professionals examine large data sets to identify trends, develop charts, and create visual presentations to help businesses make more strategic decisions.

With such a vital skillset, data analysts are in incredibly high demand. In fact, IBM estimates that there will be more than 2.7 million data-related job openings by 2020

Salaries, even amongst entry-level workers with data skills, reflect this demand. Each of the 11 most popular data-focused careers earns an average salary greater than $80,000 per year, and eight of those earn more than $100,000 on average. Professionals with analytical skills also typically earn higher salaries than their non-analyst counterparts.

For jobs that pay over $75,000, four of the 10 most coveted skills involve data: SQL, Excel, Python, and SQL Server. Further, managers, directors, and C-level professionals are increasingly required to understand analytics in order to manage teams that revolve around those skills. Attending a data analytics bootcamp is one way to learn the knowledge and skills necessary to work in one of these roles. 

With a foundation in data analytics, you can choose to follow a data science track or branch out into one of many directions that require analytical knowledge, such as financial analyst, consultant, chief operating officer, or supply chain manager. Cheryl Richards, CEO and regional dean of Northeastern University–Charlotte, summed it up perfectly when she said that most analyst roles don’t even have the word “analyst” in the title.

2. Relatively Low Cost and Time Commitment

Enrolling in a data analytics bootcamp is relatively less expensive than other educational options, with the most popular options costing anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000. And, because most can be completed in a matter of weeks or months, participants are generally able to begin seeing an immediate return on their investment.

It is important to note, however, that because of their condensed nature, bootcamps cannot provide the same level of comprehensive training that degree programs can (and do). In some cases, this can leave participants with superficial exposure to topics or concepts which will need to be elaborated upon at a later date, whether through additional bootcamps, an advanced degree, or self-education.

3. Ability to “Test the Waters”

Because bootcamps are relatively low-cost and low-time investments, many participants see them as an ideal way to “test the waters”—to experiment with a data analytics career before enrolling in a degree program. In this way, bootcamps can be especially helpful to individuals who are considering making a career transition into analytics from a non-analytical role.

Additionally, when a bootcamp is offered from an educational institution like a university, they can often (though not always) be applied towards an eventual degree. If your plan is to attend a bootcamp first and then eventually use that experience to count as credit towards a full degree, it is critical that you understand the institution’s policy before you enroll. 

Data Analytics Education: You Have Options

While a data analytics bootcamp may be a good option for certain individuals, it isn’t the only path available. In fact, depending on your specific personal and career goals, it may be wiser to forgo a bootcamp in favor of a more robust option such as a graduate certificate or master’s degree.

The Employer Perspective

A bootcamp is a great way of quickly learning skills that you can immediately put to use at your current organization. But, because individuals who complete a bootcamp do not typically earn educational credits or certification, it can be difficult to leverage your bootcamp experience when applying for a new job. Though your current organization may recognize the value, there is no guarantee that your next organization will. Recent studies find that bootcamp credentials are still less widely accepted than degrees. Although most employers today see some value in these and other microcredentials, they typically view them as serving a supplementary role to, rather than substitutes for, traditional degrees.

If your eventual goal is to use your new education and skills to transition into a new role or organization, you may be better served by completing a graduate certificate or master’s degree in data analytics instead. 

At Northeastern University, we offer many analytics-focused graduate programs that can help you reach your personal and professional goals, including the Master of Professional Studies in Data AnalyticsMaster of Science in Data ScienceGraduate Certificate in Data Analytics, and other related analytics programs

When looking for a data analytics program, the main thing to consider is the return on investment: Why do you want to learn analytics, what do you expect to gain in the long run, and how will it affect your future? That understanding will help you determine the best path forward.


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This post was originally published in May 2016. It has since been updated for relevance and accuracy.