IT Certifications vs. Degree: What's Better for Your Career?


IT Certifications vs. Degree: What's Better for Your Career?

If you are looking to build a career in the IT field, you may have come across the raging debate on IT certifications vs. degree. But with the increasing education costs and lack of time for studying, which option is better for you? Let’s explore what both pathways entail and what can be the best way forward for you.

IT Degree Programs - Are They Worth the Money and Effort?

Let’s face it: going to the graduate or postgraduate schools is nowhere near cheap. According to a survey, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs cost anywhere between $50,000 and $80,000, divided across semesters and number of courses. In addition, you have other expenses to account for, such as books, living costs, traveling, and more, which can be burdensome for students living on odd, part-time jobs.

Though you can reduce the burden of tuition fees and other expenses through scholarships and employer reimbursement programs, you still have to spend thousands of dollars, along with spending hundreds of hours in attending classes and studying, while juggling with your job to score the degree. While some employers still require the candidates to have a formal degree for almost all positions in the IT industry, the trend is shifting towards hiring people with better skillset, knowledge, and hands-on experience.

IT Certifications – An Arguably Better Alternative to Mainstream Degree Programs

Getting a degree is the mainstream way of landing jobs, but as said earlier, employers are continually looking for people with specific knowledge and skills in your respective field, which degree programs mostly fail to cover properly. Alternatively, you have the option to achieve the much-needed edge and boost for your career through IT certifications. Here are a few points to consider when stuck in the IT certifications vs. degree dilemma.

A Consistent Standard Across the Globe

IT certifications are offered by tech giants, like Cisco, Microsoft, CompTIA, and others, that have designed courses to enhance the knowledge and skills for particular IT expertise. Professionals taking the certifications are required to demonstrate their understanding and prowess over the learned materials through exams, which affirms your credibility. The best part is that these certifications are recognized worldwide, and whether you are in the Middle East, Americas, or all the way in Australia, it will speak volumes of your knowledge and skills.

 The Cost and Time Benefit

Among the other reasons, this the most obvious one – earning a degree requires more time, patience, and money as compared to getting certified. If you are not in for years of commitment, then IT training is your way forward. You can consider this as a fast-track for career growth and employment as you can easily take IT certifications at your own pace and complete them in two days, a week, or even within a month. However, consider a few things before going with this decision, such as employer needs, in-demand skills, and required qualifications. You must make sure that the certification programs are covering all the skills and qualifications required for meeting the application’s requirements.

Certifications are Focused on Specific Skills

What sets apart an amateur from a professional is the skill and hands-on experience. With modern IT training programs focusing on equipping professionals with in-demand skills, you can easily meet the requirements of employers by completing certifications to establish the credibility of your knowledge and expertise in the area.

Qualifications for Climbing the Ladder

Microsoft, Cisco, CompTIA, and others offer beginner and advanced level certifications, each having specific prerequisites to highlight the progression and extent of knowledge, skills, and expertise. People with degrees have to rely on their experience within the field climb the ranks and have to indulge in a lot of training from superiors before they can prove their worth. Conversely, lack of advanced knowledge may lead to career stagnation and lost opportunities. By investing time in completing certifications, you can demonstrate your understanding of the emerging technology and your ability to perform well in senior roles.

Choose the Route of your Choice

Degree programs are inflexible in terms of the subjects and courses you want to opt for and excel in. Within the compulsory curriculum, there are unnecessary courses that may not contribute to your professional growth. With IT certifications, you can clearly define your own path and walk on it with the end goal in mind. In addition, these certifications train candidates to properly perform different tasks on supported software, ensuring practical knowledge for shining within the corporate environment.

Stay Up-To-Date with the Latest Technology Trends

Large market players, like Microsoft and Cisco, release updates on their products regularly and require IT professionals to retake the certification exams again to equip themselves with the latest technology. In addition, there are always new certifications centered on new products, allowing you to gain a better understanding of the new software and giving an edge over your peers.

The Verdict – IT Certifications Vs. Degree

As shown above, you can easily see how certifications outweigh degree programs with their benefits, though the former can have its own drawbacks, like limited shelf life, lack of discipline, and more. However, the good thing about the IT industry is that in this time and age, it has moved past the point that years of education is mandatory for employment. This means that anyone with the passion and intellectual curiosity to acquire and stay up-to-date with the IT technologies and skills, along with the drive to growing career can benefit from IT training.

Though the highlighted benefits give preference to IT training, the best scenario for any candidate would be to acquire the combination of both degree programs and certifications to fill up the gaps of each pathway.

If you are interested in exploring the best IT certifications training to reinforce your career, you should check out online course platforms offering programs, ranging from information and network security to DevOps, data science, cloud, and more.

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