Are you interested in IT or advancing your career, but struggling with college vs IT certifications as far as the best route to go?
If you’re just getting started or even been in the industry for a little bit, you’re probably wondering what’s the best way to advance your skill set, improve your career, and/or what employers are looking for on a resume. There are a lot of different opinions out there on what the best choice is. Some say education is the way to go while others swear by certification and some individuals say nothing beats real world experience. All three options sound logical and that’s because they are. When it comes to choosing a path, you’re going to have to do some research to find out which one makes the most sense for you. Let’s go over the two most talked about paths; college or certifications. The following will break down college vs IT certifications.
Should you choose college?
Below are some reasons why you would choose college vs IT certifications.
College is a great place to grow as a person. It provides structure, classes that make you think about things you normally wouldn’t, experience with time management, stress management, deadlines, and countless other life responsibilities. These experiences play a very big role in helping you transition from college to the real world. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. Becoming a better, more confident person entering the workforce will help give you the confidence needed to do well.
College helps you figure out exactly what area of IT you want to specialize in. IT is massive so saying you want to work in IT is a very vague statement. College will help narrow down this big world letting you get a feel for what you truly enjoy and can see yourself doing for a long time. When you start college, you may think you know exactly what you want to get your degree in but a couple semesters in, you may find that it’s not really what you expected. You can switch to a new field of study more suitable to you.
When you go to college, you get to learn in a linear pattern which allows you to understand new concepts easier as you progress through each semester. If you feel like you’re not grasping a concept fully, you have time to speak with your instructor privately to help clear up any confusion and get you back on track. IT is complex, so having months to learn about a subject in a classroom is a benefit.
Employers require a degree. You may or may not know this, but there are a lot of jobs out there that won’t even look at your resume if you don’t have a degree. It’s the reason I went back for my bachelors degree. IT is a competitive market so employers have the ability to mandate degrees because they know the candidate pool will be plenty full.
When you go to college and get your degree, it shows employers that you are capable of sticking to something long term. They want employees who are going to be dedicated and committed. When you’re just starting out or don’t have IT work experience, college is a good way to show you have what it takes to follow through with big tasks.
College has a lot of pros but there are some cons that you should be aware of.
It’s expensive. Learning months at a time can be a great way to grasp and understand new concepts but it comes with a price. There’s a reason you hear about student loans in the news all the time, they can put students thousands of dollars into debt with no guarantee that you’ll land a job in your field. This is very intimidating so before starting college, you should look at all of your options to try and lower the cost.
You will take classes that aren’t applicable to what you’re trying to do. Part of that cost comes from having to take mandatory classes that do not align with your field of study. This can take away from the experience and too many of these classes in a row can have you second guessing if it’s worth it. Be prepared for these types of classes and just know that you will get through them.
It doesn’t make you an expert in your field of study. With years of studying, taking classes, late nights, and early mornings you would expect to walk out being an expert once you get your degree. Unfortunately, that is not the case. College is a place where you get out what you put in. You can only get so much and when you graduate, there is still so much to learn.
That leads us to the next section, certifications.
Should you get IT certifications?
In the IT field, certifications are like the Holy Grail. Here are the pros and cons of certifications.
You get to show that you have specialized knowledge in a particular area of IT. When an employer looks at your resume, they need to know that you are going to be a good fit for the
position. If you have a certification related to the job, that’s one of the best ways of showing you are qualified.
Certifications are very cost efficient. Unlike college, you can get industry-wide recognized certifications for a very affordable price. If you sit down and think about where you want to go in your IT career, you can easily map out what certifications will push you towards your goals. Training is better than ever. Thankfully, with amazing online training services like KWT, you have on-demand access to a multitude of courses and material that guide you through what you need to do in order to be prepared and pass your certification. In the past, you had to order books and rely almost completely off of them to get you prepared. Luckily that has changed. Now you get to watch videos, do hands on labs, chat with the instructors, ask questions, download additional study material, and so much more.
Certifications build confidence. Just like college can build up your confidence, certifications can do the same. When you pass a certification, you are proving to yourself that you are capable and qualified to be in your field. This reassurance will carry over to the workplace and help you believe in yourself, especially on the days where it gets hard.
The possibilities are almost limitless. I mentioned before that IT is a very wide topic and that means you get to learn as much or as little as you want. Your interests are bound to change over time but with certifications, you can adapt to that change by studying for a certification that fits your newly developed interest. You can do this all throughout your career. Always adapting and always improving.
A lot of certifications are pass/fail. This means if you fail the exam, you don’t get a refund and must pay to take it again. That’s why it’s important to take your certification training serious, have a reason as to why you’re taking the certification, and don’t rush while taking the exam.
Like college, even though you took a certification, there’s no guarantee you’re going to get a job or get promoted. Nothing in life is promised. Even though it’s not promised, with logical thinking and planning, most certifications are only going to help you advance one way or another.
So which is better?
That is really up to you and where you are in life. Take a look at the different options above and decide what makes the most sense for you and your goals. Before you start anything, you should have a goal in mind. Decide what your goal is and then decide which path will get you
there. My preference is both college and certifications. When you combine the two, you are setting yourself up for a greater chance of success.
Go get started.
The choice between college and IT certifications will continue to be up for debate for years to come. If you’re unsure about which direction to go, start looking at different certifications you could be studying for now. Since certifications are a low risk/high reward investment, it is a great place to start. Once you take a certification or two, you will get a sense of direction on where you want to go next. That’s when the decision to take more certifications or go to college will become clearer. I hope this college vs IT certifications breakdown was beneficial and can help get you started in the wonderful world of IT.
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