Career / Career Progression

Trainers Sound Off: College Degrees vs. IT Certifications

by Raju Woodward
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Published on September 21, 2015

As the cost of tuition rises at many universities/colleges, more and more people are questioning whether pursuing higher education is worth the cost. Many people who elect to go that route are left with huge amounts of student loan debt. Who wants to be paying off college loans into their 40s (even if it's for an information technology degree)?

There are plenty of reasons to go to college. Some careers and fields require degrees (doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.) Also, the social experience of college shouldn't be underestimated. You certainly learn a lot about people, including yourself, in those settings.

But one field that doesn't require a degree to thrive is, you guessed it, IT! When it comes to pursuing information technology careers, real-world experience and certifications are what matter, say several CBT Nuggets trainers. In fact, you might be surprised by some of Shawn Powers', Anthony Sequeira's, and Jeremy Cioara's answers!

Take Anthony, for example. He started college as an English major to pursue his lifelong dream of being a teacher. Once he learned how little teaching paid and how hard it was to find teaching positions in his area, he changed paths. He ended up majoring in accounting and earned a minor in MIS. But Anthony said he might have thought about forgoing college entirely had he known more about IT.

"(I wish I'd known) That I could've gotten professional certifications right out of high school, and started teaching technology sooner," Anthony said. "I would've considered skipping college."

Likewise, Jeremy said that if he was aware of all the IT-related options that were available when he was in high school, he might have discovered his passion for information technology training much sooner.

"It would've taken me less time to be a trainer and help people," Jeremy said.

That's why Shawn said he would love to see IT training, such as CBT Nuggets, more available to K-12 students. He said that information technology classes or training can help them start thinking about possible careers sooner.

All of trainers stressed that it's important for students to identify the area of IT that most interests them and develop a passion for that area, whether it's networking- or security-related. They suggested volunteering and internships as ways to get hands-on experience, and determine what you like or don't like.

However, don't take all this as an endorsement to discount college completely! Several trainers stressed that going to college does teach you valuable study skills and discipline, two things that are crucial to success in working in the IT field!

Hear our trainers share more about degrees vs. certs in this short video:

The bottom line: Going to college is never a bad thing, but you can still be successful in IT without a degree.


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