How to Decide Between Earning a College Degree or Professional Certifications

How to Decide Between Earning a College Degree or Professional Certifications


In light of this, it’s understandable that college students wonder about the value of a degree. But what if getting a degree isn’t the only option? Nowadays, many professionals opt for professional certifications rather than degrees. If this question is the one plaguing you, take a look at why you might be better served by getting a professional certificate.

Up-to-Date Credentials

While a computer science degree is very practical, it can also become dated very quickly. This isn’t to say that a person should get some training in technology. It’s just that it’s often easier to keep a technical certificate up to date than to get a new degree. The fact is a 10-year-old computer science degree doesn’t show a potential employer if you’re up to date or not. However, a recently earned professional degree does.

Opportunities for On-Going Training

Nowadays, online programs like Plural Sight exist that offer ongoing Oracle training and courses for other platforms. The advantage of sites like these is that they constantly add training modules as well as offer the possibility of taking the tests for certification in platforms like Java, Python, Oracle, and others. Additionally, these training programs allow you to learn at your own pace. It’s easy just to pick up a new module or two during your off hours. That’s why many professionals like this sort of program.


The average per-year cost of a degree is high. Even accounting for in-state tuition, the annual cost for the average university ranges from $9,000 to $23,000. At minimum, the cost of this degree would then be as low as $40,000 and as high as almost $100,000 (or more for private universities.) And not all public universities are cheap. A year at a university like University of Pittsburg will cost you over $17,000.

Professional certificate programs cost much less. Often, you can sign up for a certificate training program like the one mentioned above and pay less than $300.00 per year for the training. Certificate exams then cost around $200.00 or $300.00 dollars. This is significantly cheaper than the cost of a degree.

Time Constraints

Earning a degree takes time, often four years or more. The working person today doesn’t usually have four years to stop working and go to school to increase their earning potential. The other alternative, of course, is to do school and work at the same time, but this can be exhausting in the long haul, especially if you have a family to take care of. Certificate programs can take a couple of months to a year to complete, cutting down your time “in the classroom” significantly.

Additionally, not all universities offer the classes you need during a time when you can make it to class. Many universities are still set up for the traditional college student right out of high school. However, adults requiring training can’t leave work to make it to these classes much of the time. A certificate program with online training can alleviate this issue by offering more flexibility for students to complete the program.

While tech industry professionals do acknowledge that some jobs require you to get a degree, not all do. If your job requires that you get a degree, then, by all means get it. However, if it doesn’t, earning a professional certificate can give you the training you need to get a job in your field. It’ll cost you far less time and money than a degree and get you out into the workforce much faster, too.

Career Management reference:

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Categories: Advanced Education