When you’re preparing for a career or improving your resume to land a job interview or promotion, degrees and certifications can impress recruiters and display the breath and seriousness of your skills. What’s the difference between a degree and a certification? Is one more impressive; does the other require less time? Degrees and certifications have different purposes, requirements, and focus. What are Degrees and Certifications? The main differences between degrees and certifications are the time and credits required to obtain them. Certificates may be more prevalent in certain fields while degrees are common in other industries.
- Certificate Programs. Certificate programs require less time and money; you can complete some certificate programs in less than a year, but an associate’s degree takes two years. They don’t include the general courses like English and Math that are often required for degrees such as a bachelor’s. Certificate programs are more targeted, often focusing on one subject. They may be used to improve your skill set to advance in your career. Certificate programs train you for a specific job.
- Degree Programs. Degree programs on the other hand are more intensive and comprehensive. Common degrees include associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral. You can get a degree in English, History, Business, and so on, taking higher level courses in these areas along with other general classes for a well-rounded education. Degrees are more impressive and illustrate a more in-depth expertise in the subject. Some jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree in the field.
What’s Required? Completing an associate’s degree will take two years, a bachelor’s degree four years, a master’s degree requires a bachelor’s and then two more years, and a doctoral degree requires a master’s plus more years of study. One year at a private college may cost $33,480 on average, $24,930 for out-of-state students at public universities, and $9,650 for in-state residents attending public colleges. The cost and time required to obtain a certificate vary widely depending on type and industry. For example, a medical coding certificate training program can cost anywhere between $1,000 and $4,000. Associate’s degree programs and basic certificate programs often only require a high school diploma or GED. Both degrees and certificates can be obtained online or in person. Which is Better? It depends on your goal. Some careers like attorney or physician require advanced degrees, while training for other jobs like plumber can only be acquired with a certificate. Review the requirements for the career you want and note whether a bachelor’s or advanced degree is expected. If not, earning a certificate is a great way to get your resume to the front of the pack. You can prepare for an entry level job in health care with a certificate. Nursing Assistants, Technicians, Medical Billing Specialists, and Medical Coders can start out with a certificate. Environmental Specialists, Construction Contractors, Paralegals, Massage Therapists, and Personal Trainers are other positions that may require certification. A degree as well as a specific certificate can make you an attractive candidate to future employers. But whether you choose a degree, certificate, or both, you will likely earn more than with just a high school diploma. Let the specific industry and the desired career guide your choices. It’s one thing to just claim you’re an exceptional Paralegal or whatever, but quite another to have certification from an accredited institution. Degrees and certifications show you’re serious about professional development and take the initiative to expand your skills and experience. Employers love people like that.