In Israel of 2021, among the insane cost of living, the rising housing prices and the constant expenses that keep popping up, there seems to be only one thing that remains constant – and that is the Israeli dream of getting a job in high-tech. Considering its high salaries (which only grow every year), the ‘free lunch’ card, the employee-bonding ‘fun days’ and all the other good things that Israel’s high-tech industry has to offer, it is no wonder that a career in high-tech has become the most sought-after path for professional and personal development. Simply, its dynamic and fascinating work and particularly rewarding salary just doesn’t exist elsewhere in the economy.
But what's the catch? A successful career in a prestigious high-tech profession also requires a comprehensive technological and professional education, of the kind that in the past would have been achieved almost exclusively through an academic computer science program at a leading university. The good news is that due to the accelerated growth of the high-tech industry in Israel in recent years, as well as the growing shortage of professional workers in the various high-tech professions, today’s universities alone are simply unable to train enough workers each year to meet the industry's needs. For this reason, the emergence of vocational high-tech training programs in recent years have been aimed at satisfying Israel’s immediate need for thousands of new employees each year, to help Israel’s high-tech to continually grow at a dizzying pace, and to therefore secure Israel’s global standing in the 21st Century as a major innovation powerhouse.
An academic degree or a vocational training program – which is more suitable for you?
Are you dreaming of a career in high-tech, but are undecided whether to pursue a computer science degree or a vocational training program in software development?
We have gathered, in essence, the main differences between the two:
How long are academic and vocational training programs?
While undergraduate computer science studies and other technological programs in academia usually take 4 years (assuming you did not have to repeat any courses), most vocational training programs take a much shorter period of time – from a few months, to a year at most. This is of course a significant point in favor of vocational training, which makes it especially easier for students with families, and for those who want to enter the job market as soon as possible.
However, it is important to emphasize that any comprehensive technological training (and in particular training targeting students without an early technological background) should provide the timeframe that is needed, as the ultimate goal is to have a comprehensive and in-depth knowledge that will serve you for many years. Therefore, we would not recommend relying on particularly short (one- or two-month) programs, which likely include superficial and abbreviated information that will not really help you develop a successful career in any popular fields in the technology sector. This is exactly the reason that the most professional and successful software development training programs in Israel (as in the rest of the world) usually last from several months to a year, and which of course, require a lot of investment during the training, including evenings and weekends.
As you probably know, there are no ‘free gifts’ in the world, and in order to successfully integrate into the world of high-tech software development, a lot of investment and hard work is required on your part throughout the entire process.
The good news is that it's going to pay off for you, and in a big way!
What are you going to learn in practice?
At its core, a bachelor's degree in computer science (like similar academic degrees) is a theoretical curriculum that aims to provide as diverse a knowledge as possible in the field. This is why these lengthy programs also include quite a few general enrichment and background courses, which are less relevant to your work after you finish your degree (“library knowledge course…”). And this, in addition to all those academic assignments that you will be required to endure, which may be in no way related to the profession you are studying for, but which are defined as compulsory curriculum assignments.
In contrast, the world of vocational training exists for only one purpose – to teach you everything you need to develop your career in a manner compatible with today’s high-tech industry. Therefore, the training simply cuts out all the useless, non-relevant parts, and you learn exactly what your next high-tech employer expects you to know. This, of course, combined with the in-depth background and learning the best professional tools that will allow you to not just integrate into the workforce after graduation, but also to successfully progress and develop over the span of your long career. So what is more suitable for you? It depends… If you are set on an academic career in computer science, or love research and the theory of the software development world, and perhaps want to learn more about the historical background of the field, then the academic degree is probably your direction. On the other hand, if your ultimate goal is a dynamic, challenging and hands-on career as a high-tech software developer, the knowledge and experience you will gain in the vocational training path will most likely be much more relevant, and better utilized by you in a more effective way over the years.
The fast track to a high-tech career: Get to know Israel's leading training programs for the worlds of software development and DevOps
How does one integrate into the workplace after graduating?
As mentioned, the purpose of undergraduate studies at an academic institution is to provide a broad theoretical knowledge, which, for some, might allow for integration after graduation into high-tech jobs without experience. This, despite the fact, that in the vast majority of cases, a new graduate will still have to go through a period of apprenticeship and practical training before really acclimatizing to the work and participating in a meaningful manner in the business activities of the company. The unfortunate expectation for most employers in the industry is that from the moment a new graduate enters the job – until she/he really starts producing value for the company – is a period of about a year, during which the employee is still in a kind of ‘overlap’ phase. Of course this timeframe varies per position, the nature of the profession, the type of company, and the individual capabilities of the employee.
So how can it be that software development ‘degree’ graduates from academic institutions can, most typically, only become effective employees from one year after starting their positions? To use the famous ‘80/20’ analogy, in the undergraduate academic curriculum, 80% of the content studied is theoretical information designed for ‘expanding horizons’ – but which will never be used after graduation, and only 20% of the content studied will actually be used after graduation on a daily basis. Due to their design, most academic courses are based on theoretical information, such as concepts that may explain the ‘big picture’ of how things work, but which cannot really be applied in a practical way when working in the actual profession.
This is exactly the big advantage of a good vocational training program, where the ratio is reversed – whereas 20% of the content learned is general knowledge and background material (which is beneficial to really understand, and is therefore provided in a manner that can be meaningfully applied), and where 80% of the content learned is very relevant, in-depth practical knowledge, which focuses on the profession and its demands today, as well as the skill sets you will be using on an ongoing basis throughout your career. In this aspect, a good vocational training program best facilitates your entry into the job market, certainly when compared to academic degree programs which don’t provide the required real-world know-how, but focus mainly on theoretical material.
Let's talk about it – how much will it cost?
Even as it’s difficult to accurately calculate the cost of an academic computer science program, the calculation starts at about 45,000 NIS of tuition (at least) for 4 years of study. In addition, an ‘offset cost’ of hundreds of thousands of additional shekels should be added for the ‘wasted’ time consumed during the degree studies (that could have instead been used to earn money working).
So the real cost of an academic degree in computer science is actually several hundred thousand shekels!
On the other hand, the cost of a vocational software development training program is much lower, and in some cases you can even enjoy free training, which makes the package much more affordable. In addition, since the training takes place in a much shorter and more intensive period of time compared to academic studies, the amount of ‘wasted’ time spent on studies is much less, which is another important factor to include in the final consideration.
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And the bottom line…
If you are in love with academia and the theoretical world of software development, and are dreaming of an academic career (and perhaps actually coding only in your free time), an undergraduate degree program in computer science is probably the path that will suit you the best.
On the other hand, if your goal is to get the most in-depth, effective and tailored training to be a highly-skilled software developer, optimally equipped for the 21st Century high-tech job market – and to easily and successfully integrate into your new career – all of this within less than a year, then the vocational training path is definitely the one you should consider.
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