This article is the third in a series that details the major findings from the recent Gallup-2U Boot Camp Graduates Study, which surveyed 3,824 adults in the U.S. who graduated from a 2U-powered boot camp program between 2016 and 2021.
A new study of boot camp graduates, conducted by Gallup and education technology company 2U, suggests that in addition to being linked to potentially higher incomes and a quick return on investment, boot camp programs also have the capacity to deliver on one of the most desired outcomes of higher education: setting students on the path toward a fulfilling career.
After graduation, respondents who graduated from 2U-powered boot camps -- intensive, full-time or part-time non-degree programs that teach students in-demand tech skills -- were nearly four times as satisfied with their current jobs as they were with the jobs they had before their boot camp.
In the study, boot camp graduates were asked to rate their current and pre-boot camp employment situations on a scale from zero to 10, with 10 representing the best possible employment situation for them and zero representing the worst possible situation.
On the zero-to-10 scale, 44% of respondents rated their current job as an 8, 9 or 10. This percentage is nearly four times higher than the 12% of respondents who rated their pre-boot camp job the same way. Though all graduates rated their jobs higher after boot camp, those who had been out of their boot camp program longer evaluated their jobs more positively than those who had graduated more recently.
Some of these evaluations may be directly related to graduates transitioning into new roles that value and use their new skills.
Boot camp graduates also indicated that they were more engaged in their current job compared with their previous one, using several measures taken from Gallup's long-standing research on employee engagement. The boot camp graduates surveyed were nearly twice as likely to say their current job gives them the opportunity to do what they do best every day (68%) as they were to say the same of their pre-boot camp jobs (35%).
These findings may be of particular interest to employers who hire boot camp graduates. Gallup research over the past several decades has shown that if people believe they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day, they are more productive and engaged at work, and are far less likely to quit.
Majority of Boot Camp Graduates Credit Their Programs for Career Progression
As a whole, the employment rate for boot camp graduates aged 25 to 40 is much higher than the national average -- 90% for boot camp graduates versus 78% for all U.S. adults in the same age group.
Nearly half of boot camp graduates (49%) said their program transformed their career for the better, which for many likely translated into new jobs and roles or helped them improve in their current jobs.
Overall, 40% of boot camp graduates said their boot camp helped them obtain a new job at a new company, 8% said it helped them improve in the job they already had, and another 5% said it helped them move into a new role in the same company. As with other employment outcomes, the likelihood of changing roles or companies generally increased the further boot camp graduates were from graduation day.
Most boot camp graduates surveyed said they achieved their primary goal for enrolling in their program, whether it was to find a new or more fulfilling career, make more money, learn new skills, or some other objective. And, even if they did not achieve their primary goal, 86% achieved a positive outcome.
The Gallup-2U Boot Camp Graduates Study offers new, descriptive research on the experiences of boot camp graduates to date. Overall, the findings suggest that when boot camps are developed and executed by credible providers with the needs of learners and the needs of the market in mind, they have the potential to transform people's lives and, by extension, the communities around them.
In addition to graduates finding more job satisfaction with their jobs after graduation, graduates of 2U-sponsored boot camp programs reported earning substantially more money just one year after graduation, regardless of their race, gender or age. And on average, the additional income they made in that first year offset more than half of what they paid for their program, so they see a quick return on their investment.
These graduates were also finding new jobs after graduation -- many of them in STEM fields -- which suggests boot camps could play an important role in filling hundreds of thousands of in-demand tech jobs.
Other factors -- aside from the boot camp -- may explain at least some of these developments, as workers find better job fits and generally progress in their careers. But the rapid increases in salary, large increase in perceived job quality and subjective reports that the boot camps were helpful all point to an important role for boot camps in fostering positive career progress among graduates.
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