I was prompted to write this because of an article I saw recently JLCollins, that discussed the choice in education between degree courses and certifications. I am, for the most part, firmly on the side of certifications, at least for my industry. I am in IT and because IT moves so fast in terms of technology, any degree you have is out of date by the time you have finished it. Now that is not to say that degrees are worthless; I think it all depends on what you need it for. Doctors? Sure, IT, not so much
I started in IT many years back, but I transitioned from the electronics industry. Technology changes fast in electronics too, but the fundamental physics and principals involved does not. In this case, a degree course can be helpful. But I was moving to IT and thought that perhaps I should investigate and IT degree. I spent some time looking at courses and my local community collage
My local community collage offered an associates in IT, with a focus on development or networking. I’m not a developer, but networking did appeal to me. The cost of the degree was something like $6000 in total and would take two years. OK not too bad but not ideal.
However, when I looked into the detail of the course, there was a lot of stuff in there that I did not need. With a little deeper digging, it turned out that the core of the networking course was the Cisco CCNA certification.
So I took a look at the CCNA. The cost (at that time) of the exam was $150 and video course materials came to about $30. That would be considerably cheaper and quicker than a 2 year degree course, so that is the course of action I took.
I purchased a couple of CCNA video courses on Udemy.com and got started. I also purchased some network equipment off ebay.com and started building a lab for testing and creating configurations. In total, it took about 14 or 15 weeks to pass the CCNA exam, and my total spend was about $1500; a lot of that was network equipment.
With the initial CCNA I was able to secure contract work, which I was able to do and also spend time on further certifications. This lead to getting a full time job as a network engineer. The return on investment here by going the certification route was so much better than the return would have been, had I went to the local community college.
Time: 15 weeks vs 2 years
Cost: $1500 vs $6000+
Clear winner was certifications.