April 22, 2022

Why Data Science Bootcamps Aren’t Ideal (Plus Alternatives)

Traditional data science bootcamp aren’t for everyone

A few of the reasons why:

  • They can cost more than $15,000 in tuition and fees
  • Some operate like a school and require lengthy application forms
  • After applying, there’s usually a long waiting period
  • And if you’re accepted, even more waiting until classes start
  • Depending on its location, you may need to pay for traveling expenses

Some traditional data science bootcamps will also require previous coursework or advanced degrees before you can begin their programs.

For example, the NYC Data Science Academy says that it prefers “individuals with master’s degrees or Ph.D’.s in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics” and that learners with no prior background should apply six weeks early to allow time for pre-work.

It’s as if they don’t want you to apply!

Why online bootcamps are a better alternative

Online data science bootcamps can provide all of the benefits without all the hassle.

An online data science bootcamp, like Dataquest, can have you working on your first code within 5 minutes of signing up.

That’s how much easier it can be for you.

In fact, Switchup, a platform that ranks coding bootcamps based on user reviews, has awarded Dataquest “Best Online Bootcamp” in 2021.

The ratings are based on honest student reviews. As of this writing, Dataquest has more than 296 student reviews, with an average rating of 4.85 out of 5.

Speed like an offline bootcamp, but with flexibility

Bootcamps borrow their name from military “boot camp,” intensive training designed to get new soldiers up to speed over a short period of time.

Online data science bootcamps train different skills, but the idea is the same. If you can commit to three months, you’ll have the basic data analysis skills you’ll need to find a job in the data science field.

Dataquest can be customized to work for you the exact same way. Only Better.

Because you’ll have a flexible, work-at-your-own-pace environment, you can complete your training as fast as you want. Or you can take all the time you need.

Take a look at this story of one student who went from having zero relevant experience to working as a full-time data engineer in less than six months.

Curriculum that teaches what you’ll actually use

There's a time limit on traditional data science bootcamp.

This forces them to speed through their curriculum, narrowing their focus and cutting out anything but the most essential information.

A common complaint is that they skip over tons of necessary information.

Some students finish without learning much about SQL. But SQL is a critical skill for real-world data science work.

Because Dataquest’s curriculum isn’t time limited, they can offer the best of both worlds:

Career paths that cover everything you need to learn (including SQL and statistics) while letting you work at a comfortable pace.

For example, Python path includes training in:

  • Python programming
  • Data visualization
  • Pandas
  • NumPy
  • Data cleaning
  • SQL
  • Statistics
  • Machine learning
  • Natural language processing
  • Spark
  • And much more

Dataquest paths include guided real-world data science projects that you’ll use to synthesize your new skills and build your resume portfolio.

hands on learning bootcamp

Hands-on learning

Another downside to traditional, in-person bootcamps is that their approach follows the traditional university model. A professor lecturing in front of a Powerpoint.

Dataquest takes a project-based approach.

Students get hands-on projects that are based on real world data. You spend most of your time coding and actually learning how to use your knowledge. Projects will guide you through real data sets and use interesting problems that are engaging to work on.

No more sitting in a lecture hall watching a professor drone on about boring theories.

Learning from peers

One of the benefits of in-person bootcamps is that they offer peer interaction.

Students find value in being able to ask questions and work on group projects with each other.

Since Dataquest is online-only, there’s no physical proximity to your peers. But the data science community that is available with your courses makes it easy for students to get quick answers to technical questions, network, and team up for projects.

Being able to team up and collaborate virtually is becoming an increasingly more important skill as more teams are moving to a remote work environment.

Career help

This is a big one. After all, it’s probably why you are considering a data science bootcamp in the first place—to get a job.

Real-world bootcamps often sell students on their career counseling services. It’s tough to overestimate the value of the guidance and advice from real data science professionals, recruiters, and hiring managers.

Fortunately, Dataquest Premium subscribers get that too in the form of personalized career help in our career forum. There you can ask questions, find resume reviews, receive project feedback, and get interviewing tips from a qualified team of data scientists and career experts.

Our exhaustively-researched guide to data science job applications is another tool that is available to everyone and without any type of subscription.

career counseling bootcamp

Learn everything you need to land your dream job

Traditional data science bootcamps often promise results to help you find a job at companies in the data science field.

That’s not unique to offline programs, though.

Dataquest students have landed full-time data science jobs at companies like Amazon, SpaceX, and Citibank, as well as startups like Noodle.ai.

You can check out some recently-featured success stories here.

The three most common jobs Dataquest students get are:

  • data scientist
  • Software engineer
  • Data analyst

Additionally, students have been hired in a variety of other analytics-related positions.

Check out this article for some more job titles you might be interested in and qualified for after learning with Dataquest.

High-quality learning, affordable price

Offline data science bootcamps definitely aren’t cheap.

Switchup’s top-ranked offline bootcamps for data science (General Assembly, Metis, and Data Science Academy) all charge in excess of $15,000 for their 12-week data science bootcamp programs!

However, that’s still affordable compared to four year of college and universities with average costs ranging from:

  • $40,000 (for in−state public university students living at home) to
  • $187,000 (for private college students living on campus)

That does not include the thousands of dollars that most college students have to spend on books, transportation, and other miscellaneous costs.

This, of course, is where Dataquest shines. Since we don’t have to pay for renting, owning, or maintaining physical spaces, our costs are far more affordable than the average offline data science bootcamp.

At just $399, you could take Dataquest courses for the next 37 years and still pay less than you would for most 12-week bootcamp programs.

Dataquest Traditional Bootcamp

Time Commitment


3 months full-time


$399 or less for one year

$5,000 to $20,000 for 3 months

Additional expenses


Travel, food, sometimes lodging

Student outcomes

Jobs as data scientists, data engineers, and data analysts (read real learner stories).

Typically, jobs as data scientists or data analysts

Carefully-designed course sequences

Required prerequisites?


Often requires "pre-work"

Career counseling

Yes (personalized online advice, answers, resume and project reviews)

Yes (services vary, some offer job guarantees)

Peer interaction

Yes (active, helpful community forums)

Yes (varies)

Hands-on learning

Subjects Covered

  • Python or R
  • Machine Learning
  • SQL
  • Statistics
  • Command Line
  • Git
  • Python or R
  • Machine Learning
  • SQL (sometimes)
  • Statistics (sometimes)

Dataquest’s subscription model offers the best bang-for-your-buck, but it also offers something more: ongoing access to a data science community and an ever-expanding library of courses.

This beats what offline bootcamps offer. After you complete their courses, you can’t go back to update your training whenever you’d like…

With a Dataquest subscription, you can.

At Dataquest, new data science courses are continuously being added and old courses are frequently updated. That way, the best possible training is available year-round.

If that sounds interesting, check out what Dataquest students say about their experiences in these student surveys. Or, you can see user reviews on sites like SwitchUp and Course Report to see how satisfied students are with Dataquest

If you’re serious about learning data science, you’ll find everything you’d want in a top data science bootcamp right here at a fraction of the cost.

Are you ready to become a data science guru? Get started today!

Charlie Custer

About the author

Charlie Custer

Charlie is a student of data science, and also a content marketer at Dataquest. In his free time, he's learning to mountain bike and making videos about it.