Learning C# vs. Java in a coding bootcamp; employers don’t care!

Both C# and Java are general-purpose languages. Medium and large companies use one or both for the bulk of their tech stack. The reason is simple. They can use either language can do virtually all the applications that a company can dream up. While there are many special-purpose languages, companies cannot use these special-purpose languages for all their programming needs.

So, for those that desire a future as a professional software developer, which of these two languages should be taken? The answer is simple. It doesn’t matter. Why?

You may be thinking, “All the open jobs I find indicate either Java or C# is needed.” So how is it that it doesn’t make a difference which language I learn in a boot camp?

I’ve been teaching a developer boot camp for years. Because I used C# in most of my professional developer career, that is the language my employer wants me to teach. I have taught Java on occasion. The two languages are so similar that once you know either one, you know most of the other. There is just a handful of small variants between the two.

For example. Each language has a statement that will iterate through a collection of items allowing processing against each item. They both do the same thing, but the syntax is slightly different.

C# foreach(int i of ints) {}

Java for(int i : ints) {}

If a programmer knows either of these, the time required to learn the other would be measured in seconds! That’s why it doesn’t’ matter which one you learn.

What’s important?

So, what is important when training to be a professional software developer? The most important knowledge you need from your boot camp is how to program. You might be thinking, “That is why I’m taking a boot camp. To learn how to program.”

I know for my class that to teach programming concepts, I use C# as an example. But the C# syntax is not the most important part. Think about it this way.

Above I showed the syntax of iterating through a collection with both C# and Java. The most important thing to remember about this is what iterating through a collection is, not the syntax of C# or Java. If a student understands the concept of iterating through a collection, they could easily do it in ANY language just by querying Google with something like, “How do I iterate through a collection in the XYZ language.”

Do employers care?

To fill a role on a development team, employers, at times, do need to have someone who knows C# or Java. But even if the position is one that requires C# or Java, multiple employers have hired boot camp grads that took the other language in the boot camp. They do that because they want to hire boot camp grads that know programming concepts.

So which language should I take?

The easy answer to this question is to take the next available boot camp regardless of which language is being taught. Then put the other language on your bucket list to learn by self-study after the boot camp ends. If you’ve learned the concepts of programming well, you won’t have problems learning either language.

If you are not in a hurry to start your new programming career, there is one piece of information you may want to consider. It is more around the economics of finding a job in the marketplace.

Just about every higher-level, educational institution has a program that teaches Java. I don’t know how comprehensive the programs are, but I’ve talked to many potential students that have taken some programming in college. When asked which language they prefer to take in the boot camp, they typically say Java. Understandable since they have background from college. So, there are many more colleges producing people that have some education in Java.

While they may exist, I know of no education institutions that teach C#. Consequently, when companies want to hire C# developers, there are fewer people that have been educated in C#. With fewer developers on the market, boot camp grads that have taken C# MAY find more demand simply because of fewer resources.

Summary

Those looking for a boot camp to educate them for a career as a professional software developer should not worry about which general-purpose language they learn. The most important takeaway from the boot camp is to learn the concepts of programming and not the specific syntax of one programming language or another. Once the concepts are learned, using those concepts in almost any procedural language is no more than a Google search away.

Greg Doud
Senior .NET Instructor
MAX Technical Training

#java #dotnet #codingbootcamp #ittraining #maxtechnicaltraining

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