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Certification vs. Degree

By millert ·
I am a Systems Analyst for a K-12 school
system. We have recently begun
discussing pay increases for
certifications. I want to persue a
college degree in CIS. I believe a
degree should carry as much if not more
weight than a certification. We are
trying to decide on some sort of scale.
for the certifications. Is there an
industry standard? Can someone offer a
jumping

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Certs, Degrees, Time - oh my

by ghlbeyerlein In reply to Certification vs. Degree

I would think that a degree is worth as much as a cert in pay scales.

Certs could almost be looked at as college and/or graduate credits, being that some of the material is as difficult to learn and grasp as the grad classes I've been through.
One thing that Certs do have in favor over degrees is that Certs are designed to be standard. So that an A+ Cert from Vermont is the same as an A+ Cert from California. The training may be different, but the cert-test should be the same. Another is that they can be earned within 6 months, normally (figuring time to read, practice at home, and take the exam.)

One of the big advantages of a degree is that you get practice time in the lab/classroom. This hands-on experience can be, and often times is, invaluable. It's one thing to read about it, but another to try it and perfect it. You also get the tutalage of your peers and instructors. It may take more time, but you get time to practice and learn in return.

Just my thoughts. Excellent question, btw.

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Can be argued till dooms day!

by Cisco_Guy In reply to Certs, Degrees, Time - oh ...

This topic always seems to pop up. But here's my professional opinion. The IT industry, is probably one of the few if not the only industry, where Certifications may very well hold more weight then any College Degree. Be it right or wrong, thats just what I've seen in the past 10 years and don't see it changing anytime soon. I myself have a degree in Computer Science, but also possess multiple IT certifications and experience, and if I ask my previous/current employers, they come straight out and tell me My IT certs and experience stood out above my degree. Ask them why, and they all sing the same song. There not interested so much in your academic ability, or how long you sat in a class room, their interested in what you can do for their company. Can you manage their Infrastructure?, Are you a good Troubleshooter? Talent? Most of which can not be taught in a classroom.

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Re: Certification vs. Degree

by studmuffin In reply to Certification vs. Degree

I believe it is good to get both,since
the degree gives you a general base of
knowledge but that base will become more
obsolete over time. What I mean is getting
a Computer Science degree in 1981 is probably
different than getting the same degree in 2001,assuming we're talking the same university. Certifications keeps an IT pro
fairly current on the latest vendor products,
while a degree is meant to be vendor independent. Can a person with a computer degree do real networking like working with computer hardware? I know at my university it was basically programming and databases,which
is why certifications may be good. I'm not
saying a computer degree is bad or good,but I
think it depends which area of computers you
are going into. If you're going into software
engineering or programming,a degree is going
to be more useful than if you're going to be more involved in the hardware aspect. I would like to get both...the reason is the degree
is something you will have with you until you die,while the certifications are something to reflect you are willing to learn what is current. Degrees will eventually become outdated,or have limited value. M.Sc may be good if you are into research or something like that.

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Some more stuff to throw into the mix

by Retro In reply to Certification vs. Degree

Many employers list a Bachelor's Degree in CS or some related field at the top of their requirements list. Certifications are almost always listed as a plus. This would lead me to believe that the degree is more important. Many colleges are now offering certification courses, but offer them as post graduate studies.
Seems that the combination degreee/cert would command the highest salaries, followed by relevant vendor specific certs, descending to vendor neutral certs?

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Long vs short term

by geekmee In reply to Some more stuff to throw ...

There is a trade off for all choices.

Here is how I see it... Certifications answer today's business demands; Business has a short term (quarterly revenue reports) "what can you do for me today" mentality; nature of the beast.
Certifications are specific to today's product environment...that constantly changes.

Degrees are long and broader forms of study that teach you to think beyond the limits of your experience. Degrees prepare you for today and whatever comes over the hill tomorrow. Its a broader perspective, but sometimes conflicts with the today's instant gratification mindset.

For what its worth.

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get real

by UrNOTready In reply to Long vs short term

99.9% of college graduates still drool in their sleep, having a degree doesn't make you any smarter or more worldly than anybody else. If you're an idiot with a degree, you're still an idiot.

Besides most recent graduates that I've encountered possess knowledge that's years behind the industry.

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Some companies require degrees

by AYoshi In reply to Some more stuff to throw ...

Some companies require degrees because of HR policies, not because of the position. I went to work for a brand new company several years back as the Manager of IS. I got this job because of my skills/experience in IT. Most importantly, after interviewing with the Admin Manager, the Finance Manager and the President of the company, I was chosen because they trusted my ability to establish and lead a team that could put things together. A month after I started working, the HR Manager commented to me that he needed a copy of my college degree to finalize my paperwork.

When I told him that I did not have one, he blanched and told me that I should have never been hired, and at the least, I should not be getting paid the salary that I wasreceiving.

However, three years later, after finishing the construction of an entirely brand new systems infrastructure (Satellite, Phone, LAN, WAN, Electrical, etc...), as I was leaving, my boss congratulated me on a job well done, and told me that he thought there were very few individuals who could have taken the position, and had the outstanding successes that we had experienced.

Did a degree matter? On paper it did!

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Long vs short term

by geekmee In reply to Certification vs. Degree

There is no one answer, there is a trade off for each choice.

Here is how I see it... Certifications answer today's business demands; Business has a short term (quarterly revenue reports) "what can you do for me today" mentality; nature of the beast.
Certifications are specific to today's product environment...that constantly changes.

Degrees are long and broader forms of study that teach you to think beyond the limits of your experience. Degrees give you a framework to process larger bodies of knowledge. They prepare you to think beyond today and whatever comes over the hill tomorrow.

Its a broader perspective that conflicts with the today's instant gratification mindset.

For what its worth.

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As I see It.

by jtcolvin In reply to Long vs short term

I seems to me that certifications are the way to go. I am presently going into IT as a career change. I have looked at the options, certs vs degree and from what I have found is employers want to be sure you can do what you say. To me a degree is just more money spent for the same thing. I recently went on a field trip to an IT depatment and asked what certifications did the employees have. Most had none to my suprise, and this was a city IT department.

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Lack of certifications

by generalist In reply to As I see It.

If the people in the city IT department have been around for ten or more years, they may not have certifications. Once you're in place and doing your job, certifications often don't do much to help your career at that specific job. And ten years ago, many of the 'hot' certifications either didn't exist or they were just starting.

They may also lack them if they are in systems analyst or certain programming positions. Cities, and other organizations, often allow interested employees to transfer into IT if they show an aptitude for the topic and are taking classes to improve themselves. By the time they know enough to be certified, they are well established in their jobs.

Of course, certifications can be useful if you intend to change jobs and can't get official on-the-job experience. And if the organization you are working for is one of those who refuses to discuss prior employees for legal reasons, they may be the only ready proof that you might be able to do the job.

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