Certificate or Degree Program? A Pros and Cons Discussion

Oct 8, 2015 | 10:12 pm

Hello Internet!

Online Ed here again with another fun topic: Certificate and Degree programs.

Do you go to school to learn or do you go to school to prepare yourself for a job? Depending on who you ask, you will get varying responses. Your answer to this question may help you decide whether or not you should look to obtain a specific certificate/license or take the route to earn your degree. Today, we review the pros and cons for both.

Certificate Programs

The Pros

When you decide to get specific certification, you are essentially saying you know exactly what you want to do. Once you become certified, you can be certain you are ready to step into the workplace.  Generally speaking, the road to becoming certified will be much shorter than the road to earning your degree. If you have a specific job title in mind and don’t want to dedicate more than 3 or 4 years to getting that title, certification may be your ideal route. Lastly, earning a certificate will generally be less expensive than earning your degree. While this doesn’t hold true for any and all job titles, it is true more often than not.

The Cons

Deciding to get certified will limit both what you learn and what you can do once you finish your certification. Hypothetically, if you decide to spend time getting certified as a fitness trainer that is all your certification will be applicable for. You will also not have the benefit of gaining a well-rounded education. Sometimes, learning and understanding is just as important as the career your training leads to.

Degree Programs

The Pros

One of the most undeniable benefits of earning a college degree, whether it’s at the associates, bachelors or master’s level, is that your education will cover a wide variety of topics. From math to science to English to history, a degree will give you a broader understanding of the world around you. Another positive of earning a degree is that you won’t be shoehorned into a specific career. While it’s not far off to assume an education major will become a teacher, a degree such as communications can be a stepping stone to various careers with various titles. You will also find the higher you go in your degree journey, the higher your earning potential can be.

The Cons

If you plan on going past your associate’s degree, you are essentially in for the education long-haul. Earning a bachelors or master’s degree will be a very long, time-consuming task. You will need to dedicate a lot of time, resources and most importantly, MONEY. Earning your degree will be an expensive endeavor in most places you apply. It will likely outweigh the cost of becoming certified. There is also no guarantee you will find a job, post-graduation. A degree is important, but so is networking and good fortune.


Until next time!