IT Certifications vs. Degree: Which Is Best for Tech?
First of all, a job (any job!) in the tech industry can be life-changing. With so much tech talent in such high demand, finding the right rewarding career at a company you love is easier than ever. All you need is the right education and you’ll be on your way to snagging your dream job.
But what is the right education? Are IT certifications enough to get you where you want to go or should you pursue an IT degree? Let’s look at the difference between IT certifications and an IT degree to help you answer your questions and get you on your way!
Because there are so many specializations and areas of expertise in the tech field, there are just as many IT certifications that people can obtain in order to further their career in the direction they want to go. Some other great reasons for earning IT certifications include:
- Credibility – IT certs can prove your expertise in any given area and give you an edge
- Marketability – IT certs look great on a resume and may help you land your dream gig
- Networking – You’ll inevitably meet other IT professionals
- Access to Resources – You’ll have access to online forums, training materials, etc.
- Personal Development – IT certs can give you a well-rounded knowledge base
When it comes to options for IT certification, there are many. Depending on the needs of your current job or the job you want in the future, there is a different certification path you can take. If you work or want to work for a particular vendor, you might want to start with their related IT certifications. For example, Microsoft, Cisco, CompTIA A+, CCENT, CCNA, VMWare, and Citrix all have specific certs you can earn.
If you want to take your career to the next level, graduating with an IT degree is a must. There are plenty of IT degree options to choose from and here are just a few examples:
- Computer Programming (AAS): Focuses on learning what makes computers work and using several programming languages to write and edit computer programs. Potential careers include computer programmer, web developer, and computer support specialist.
- Computer Technology & Networking (AAS): You’ll learn how to build, maintain, and update hardware and software systems to keep networks and databases flowing between computers. Potential careers include network administrator, computer repair tech, business computer operator, hardware and software trainer, and user support tech.
- Computer Science with a Networking & Information Systems Security Emphasis (BS): With this degree you can help organizations establish and operate effective, secure information systems. Potential careers include information security specialist, network administrator, web developer, computer programmer, project manager, and systems analyst.
- Computer Science with a Software & Mobile Applications Development Emphasis (BS): This degree teaches you how to develop mobile apps, how to test software, how to make software secure, and how to perform user-interaction design. Potential careers include software developer or engineer, mobile app developer, computer programmer, web developer, and IT entrepreneur.
It’s important to note that no matter which career path you want to take, the more education you receive the better. Working your way up the tech career ladder won’t happen unless you have the education and expertise behind you, which usually requires obtaining an advanced degree.
Which Choice Is Best for You?
When it comes down to it, you may not want to think of the options as IT certifications vs. degree, but more cooperatively instead. That’s because getting both an IT degree along with specific IT certifications that are applicable to the job you want will give you the best chance for success.
By learning skills in database and web page programming, software security, computer servicing, mobile applications, cloud computing, network communications, ethical hacking, and cryptography, you’ll have what it takes to be qualified for one of the 557,100 jobs that are expected to be open by 2026 (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).