What's better an Associate IT degree or Certs?

By ggomez ·
I ponder whether now a days individuals who are considering landing a job performing IT related tasks would be better off getting industry certifications or completing an Associate degree in IT from a Community College?

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Tough question

by mjd420nova In reply to What's better an Associat ...

Personally I think a cert is more acceptable these days than an associates degree, primarily because the certs will show expertise in actually working in the field and the associates degree reflects the book learning background but without the actual field experience. Both would be nice, and after earning the associate degree, the certs should be simple to get, but some areas maybe tough without some actual hands on skills. So much of the certs are involved in dealing with people and their needs which can't be taught in a class or from a book.

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Associate vs. Certs

by ggomez In reply to Tough question

Thanks very much for your insights. Another fact is that most students who are interested in IT and who are new to the field do not or cannot wait two years of schooling to become employable. The majority of the students, I find, are either unemployed (Worker Retraining)or interested in improving their skills for retaining their jobs. It is my opinion that those who complete the Associate degree, and who are new in the IT field, find themselves in a disadvantage when looking for an IT related job with those with experience in the field regardless the latter having a degree or cert. What is your experience or opinion in this area?

Gus Gomez

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by david.wallis In reply to What's better an Associat ...

what field your going into?

If i was recruiting a techy i would ignore Degrees etc , and look for Microsoft Certification because that proves to me that you can use the technology properly. A Degree doesnt tell me you can use Exchange/Active Directory etc...

degrees are too general :)

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Thanks for feedback

by ggomez In reply to depends


We are on the same page. I am trying to hear and learn from those of you who are currently in the IT job market what qualifications you are seeking in a potential employee. By the way, I am looking at two fields in IT, Networking and Database. Any further insights will be appreciated.

Best regards,
Gus Gomez

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by david.wallis In reply to Thanks for feedback

for networking i would first look at doing Comptias Network+ , that gives you a grounding in network topologies and that kind of thing. The next thing you want to look at is to learn a server operating system, Windows server 2003 is widely used, although server 2008 is coming out soon :)

Look on the microsoft site from courses relating to Windows Server 2003 (MCP) once you have got the Network+ and Server 2003 qualifications i think you will be well on your way to getting a decent job :)

might also be a good idea to get a qualification in Windows XP or Vista too. From a business point of view i would do XP, the exam on its own cost ?88 in the UK

as for databases depends which software your looking at :)

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Thanks again!

by ggomez In reply to Networking


Thanks very much once again for the information, which makes a lot of sense to me. I will be gathering all the feedback and come up with some recommendations to my division. Your suggestions are compatible with ones that I have received thus far.

Best regards,

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by DC_Federal_Employee In reply to What's better an Associat ...

Both are handy and neither one will work against you.

Any kind of degree from an actual college or university will give you the broad education that will help you over the long run.

Certs are usually vendor specific are are great for staying abreast on the latest stuff and keeping your skills current.

Earning a degree will never count against you (unless it's from a diploma-mill type college). A degree helps get you the first real job. From that point on it's all up to you and that is where certs can come in handy.


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Thanks for your feedback

by ggomez In reply to Both!

Thanks very much for your feedback. I also agree that having an Associate and an IT industry cert can prove helpful to the job seeker. The issue that I have at hand, on the other hand, is having students completing an Associate degree and not finding a full-time IT related job, i.e. networking or database. The other issue that I find relates to students who cannot wait two years to complete an Associate degree due to family and financial responsibilities. I ponder hence if it would be better to offer courses geared to passing industry certifications rather than continuing offering the Associate degree where graduates find fierce competitions from those with many years of experience in the field. That is our dilemma.

Any further thoughts?
Gus Gomez

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One of the exceptions to the rule...

by RayJeff In reply to What's better an Associat ...

Hi Gus. I'm sorry I'm late to the discussion.

I have to say that I've been very lucky up to now. While I was working on my Associate's degree, I was lucky early on in my studies to get a workstudy position in the college's IS dept doing helpdesk work in the main computer lab. I did that the entire time I worked on my degree. Also at the same time, I going into the CCNA program as well. So, with all that, I was able to put into practice experience what I was learning.

Before I decided to work on an Associate's degree, I actually started out working on a Bachelor's in Computer Science, but I decided to take a step back. So, after the Associate's, I went back to working on my Bachelor's and lucky enough, I was able to get a part-time job in my campuses Computer Services Dept doing helpdesk work. Which a few years later, lead me to another job at another college doing helpdesk work, but it allowed me to branch off into more networking, programming and database work, which I had never done before. Then..that lead me into other jobs working in the data center environment and systems installation. All of this while I am still in school.

Did my certification help me more than my Associate's degree. I would tend to say no. because my experience was strong to go along with my education. And also the area and state I live in (South Carolina) isn't a big IT state. So, it's hard to find persons such as myself to have the combination of knowledge and experience or even have one or the other.

So, it just depends on many variables to say if an Associate's trumps a cert or vice versa.

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