Ken Rosen posted an interesting blog for Microsoft’s “Born to Learn” last week (on October 6, to be precise). It’s entitled “Certification or College Degree: Which Should You Choose (hint: both),” and it makes the same point that I’ve made many, many times myself in my writings on IT career and certification topics, as far back as the mid-1990s. Either one by itself is better than nothing, but both combined beats either one by itself.
What’s interesting is that Rosen reports that IT pros who lack the degree are pretty sure it’s worth pursuing and earning, while those who have the degree aren’t so sure about things themselves. Rosen also makes the well-rehearsed pitch that a degree testifies to one’s ability to learn and to communicate in written and oral form, while the IT certification’s provide narrower testimony about specific areas of technical competence. Both kinds of skills are vital for IT professionals, but they speak to different aspects of the same jobs in IT and are equally important for success in those jobs.
Neither degree nor certs last forever, either, so it’s also important to maintain a willingness to learn, along with ongoing demonstrations of ability and accomplishment. That’s why going after a graduate degree may make sense for those looking to differentiate themselves from the herd of others who have bachelor’s or associate degrees and some level of IT certification. It’s also why climbing the certification ladder makes sense for so many people, and why “soft skills certs” (like the PMP, for example) also add some cachet to resumes nowadays.
Life is a journey and an adventure. Why not do some more learning along the way?