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College Degree or Professional Certification: What Works the Best?

 

 

 

Pursuing higher education can be costly and the admission process can be tedious, but it’s important to note that you have options to pick from. With the rise of fast-tracked resources and career-oriented bootcamps, you now have the choice to either go the traditional route or otherwise. In this article, you will find a comparison between college degrees and professional certifications that can help you decide what works best for you.

 

College Degree

 

For the longest time, this has been the most common path for those who aspire to land an opportunity for a brighter future. A college degree is given out upon graduation. It typically marks the completion of courses that take between three to four years on average. In today’s tech industry, a bachelor’s degree is highly valued but it will not necessarily land you a job. The lack of one also does not mean you can’t get a good gig.

 

Curriculum

As previously mentioned, the duration of university courses is quite long, therefore, the curriculum is extensive. Generally, it not only covers topics that are relevant to the major, but also other core subjects that are pre-requisites for graduation. Even though the core subjects are not necessarily related to your field of interest, they are still mandatory.

 

Time 

On average, it takes about four years to finish a bachelor’s degree. The duration, however, is not fixed as it depends on a student’s performance and the major itself. For instance, a medical school attendee may require three more years of residency after their graduate degree upon graduation.

 

Costs

One semester can cost anywhere from $4,000 to over $30,000, depending on your major and the school you attend. While a lot of universities offer financial support or scholarships to those qualified, the four-year duration can easily leave you with a significant amount of student debt by the end of your degree.  

 

Job Opportunities

A bachelor’s degree can bring about plenty of job opportunities. However, it also depends on the major you choose and how the associated industry is faring at the moment. 

 

 

Professional Certification

 

Professional certification courses are made for students to learn about a specific career or skills. For example, in the tech industry, coding bootcamps are popular for teaching how to be a tech professional or how to use a programming language in a matter of months. 

 

Curriculum

Professional certifications are focus-based, therefore, students would only be learning the subjects that will equip them with the skills needed to break into the industry. If you want a comprehensive curriculum, there are some courses that delve deeper into the subjects for students to continue learning even after receiving the certification. 

 

Time 

Course duration varies a lot depending on the career path and the educational institution. In some cases like intensive programs, you can get a tech skill certificate in just three months while in some other courses that involve deeper knowledge, it can take up to three years. 

 

Costs

Professional certification courses can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000, which is a much lesser figure when compared to a college education. Just like the curriculum, the costs differ depending on your specialization. For example, coding bootcamps that teach applied machine learning can cost $3,500 for a two-month duration. If you already have the skills and just needed to take the certification test, it will only cost anywhere between $40 to $200 each. 

 

Job Opportunities

It all depends on the career path you pick. For example, the healthcare industry will have more opportunities for those with a bachelor’s degree than with a professional certificate. However, in the tech industry, you can get as good a job with a professional certificate because your abilities and experience are what counts. 


 

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