Certificate Programs vs. College Degrees

Jun 23, 2023 | Career Advice, Career Training, Certificate Programs, Professional Development

Whether coming back to your education or just starting out, finding the right educational fit can be hard to figure out on your own. Nowadays, there are plenty of options to choose from, ranging from certificate programs to college degrees. Depending on your professional situation and goals, some options might be more effective than others. 

The Traditional Education Path

College degrees have been traditionally sought out for many reasons, including their reputation as the ‘only thing’ employers will look for when scanning your resume. However, many people are turning to other avenues of education and employers aren’t necessarily looking at just your “education” section of your resume. Now more than ever, businesses across industries are engaging in skills-based hiring, specifically seeking out possible future employees that have the in-demand skills, not degrees, to perform in the position at the level they are seeking.

You can read more about the skills-based hiring trends in one of our recent blog posts: Finding Success in Skills-based Job Searches.

However, this isn’t to say college degrees aren’t worthwhile or no longer necessary. There are still many career paths that require degrees, such as registered nurses and teachers. As all things are, college is an investment and many careers that require degrees return the investment in the years postgrad. Those who have career aspirations in industries that require degrees are encouraged to seek out colleges and universities that can help them achieve their career goals. Forbes offers an extensive list of the recently named top American colleges and universities: Forbes’ Top Colleges list showcases the finest in American education.

certificate programs

An Alternative Educational Route

But, those who have been in their careers for awhile, or went to college because they were told it was the ‘next step,’ are finding out that many jobs out there in the current digital economy rely heavily on skills-based knowledge, something that certificate programs can help develop and empower people to change or advance careers. Certificate programs often have an accelerated timeline, are more cost effective, take less time to complete, and provide industry-specific earned skills and credentials.

The biggest difference between college degrees and certificate programs is time they take and the investment required. While college degrees are often over the span of four to five years, certificate programs usually don’t take more than a year to complete. College degrees can cost anywhere between $30k to $90k whereas certificate programs are often no more than $10k.

Ultimately, your professional situation should guide your decision between a college degree and a certificate program. If you need more of a side by side comparison of certificate programs and college degrees, Columbia Southern University explains the differences quite well: Certificate vs. Degree: What’s the Difference? However, if you are needing skills fast and in a cost effective way, certificate programs might be the alternative you are looking for.

certificate programs

Since we live in a digital economy that is only going to continue to become more digital, some of the most in-demand careers can be found within the tech world. For those who have been considering a career change or advancement, certificate programs can help develop industry-specific skills and credentials that make your resume stand out among the rest. According to Digital Skills Global, some of the current most in-demand tech careers include: Coding, Data Analytics/Science, Digital Design, Data Visualization, Digital Project/Product Management, and Digital Marketing/Social Media. These careers do not require a college degree to excel at but rather demand a set of skills that can be fully developed through certificate programs.

As you continue your search for the best educational fit for your professional situation, consider attending an info session with one of DWC’s student advisors. By attending, you can find out if certificate programs are the right fit for you. Click here to sign up: https://digitalworkshopcenter.com/certification-programs/talk-to-an-advisor/