Certifications & Degrees. When To Pursue, and How To Make It More Effective?

Certification courses are necessary for one’s career advancement. These are the platforms its pursuant can utilize to its utmost potential to extract its full advantage in achieving new heights in one’s career growth.

From one of my youtube videos, I saw a comment from a viewer asking about the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)’s Chartered Certified Accountant certification and its timing in one’s educational timescale. The precise question was if to take ACCA after plus two (higher secondary education) or after degree (university undergraduate degree).

Instead of making the answer very specific to ACCA-provided certification or any finance or accountancy-related certification, I decided to elaborate my response as a general case study of any certification course’s when to be pursued by a candidate in their study period.

So, let’s dissect the question and dive deep into the answering part.

Answering Style:

Because the question is specific, but the answer must be broader, I will follow a particular way of answering it. Five parts will be there in the solution. In the first part, we will understand the importance of certification courses, and in the second part, we will see whether and where university degrees are relevant. The third and fourth parts of the answer will investigate whether certification or university degree alone can do the needed magic in one’s career; if not, why. Finally, the fifth and last part will propose the best possible solutions for you.

Certification Courses

The certification course can be for medicine, psychology, aerospace, logistics, supply chain, project management, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, social sciences, software development, testing, engineering, accounting, finance, or even actuarial disciplines. Each of these courses is essential for the simple reason of their existence. However, their scope is in pursuant’s career is also vital. Therefore, though many factors exist to advocate passionately on a certification course’s applicability and relevance in its pursuant’s career, we can aggregate all the justifications under below two headings:

  1. Professional Exposure: If you are a fresher with no job experience yet, certification courses that are allowed to you are designed to bring you to the domain where you are getting certified. By the uniqueness of their content and curriculum, these courses will enable you to enter the professional folds even before landing a real job in that domain.
  2. Expertise in The Domain: For an experienced candidate, certifications are assertions of their professional knowledge and skill set in that domain where you are getting certified. After spending years in particular employment, streamlining and further enhancing your profile becomes inevitable, and you will be forced to think of ways to achieve it. Hee comes certification programs that impart insights and awareness of your field and teach a globally acknowledged way of doing and communicating tasks. Certification courses serve these purposes quite beautifully. In short, certifications are a solid platform to obtain professional exposure and sustain expertise.

University Degrees

Across the globe, not leaving a country in particular, holders of university degrees are viewed differently. This education benchmarking allows an employer or a client to have a minimum expectation from its holders. However, these degrees’ success regarding their holders’ employability and value addition is an open question. My point is that university degrees (better if it is from a reputable banner) are the minimum education qualification when you are there for the long run and eyeing for leaps in an organizational hierarchy.

Though there are plenty of reasons to justify acquiring a university degree, the following are the prominent ones:

  1. Wider Academic Exposure: Students can equip their knowledge base with more expansive knowledge areas with the curriculum design and subjects included in the degree education programs. When pursuing the course, students may wonder when and where they will use all those subjects; somewhere down the road in their career journey; they will confront situations where such wider academic exposure for sure will enable them to achieve better results.
  2. Requirement for Further Growth in A Career: Growth in one’s job combines various factors. Education and institutional knowledge acquired are among. Often, employees may get stuck in their job profiles because of the absence of a minimum education qualification benchmark. A University degree is one such parameter employers and management considers vital.

Certification Courses Without A Degree – Enough?

Yes, this is one option you can consider if your priority is to land a job and not have much time. Because certification course by its built quality (if competent bodies, of course, provide it) assures good professional exposure, you will not be considered just another fresh kid out from school with no job experience. In the short-term, certification without a degree will look advantageous to you in landing a job. However, a university degree is a necessary ingredient for your career advancement and promotions.

Certification – Enough?

Degree Courses Without Certification – Enough?

Landing in the first job is difficult, especially if you are unsure where to look and what to find. University degrees give you the knowledge and exposure to various fields within an academic lens. However, developing employability skills and professional exposure is still challenging for freshly released college kids. Unless some generous employer agrees to invest effort, time, and money on you to turn you to transform you as their resource, you will always find yourself to be watching a French movie with no English subtitles. You have to do much guesswork and prepare your actions to match an outcome. So, a degree alone cannot help you get a job quickly; certifications are the one firm path to reach a position.

University Degree – Enough?

What is The Best Solution?

I have two options for you. Maybe many, but I will restrict it to two such possibilities, which are precise and straightforward:

  1. Certification +Distance Degrees/Online Degrees: In this option, you enroll in a certification program immediately after your higher secondary education (PUC, PDC, +1/+2, whichever name is used in your region). While pursuing this course, you can do distance degrees (called correspondence degree courses) or online degree courses. Distance degree is better than online degrees; however, both are not as good as regular classroom-oriented degrees. But with your certification program, these degrees will stand as an add-up and will boost your overall profile. One thing to remember while pursuing this platform is the certification program you are undergoing must be competent, reputed, and strong enough to land you in a job so that, soon after your certification, you land in a job. While in your position, the sooner you complete your degree, which will make you eligible for promotions and other incentives. Example: ACCA, CA, CMA, etc.
  2. Degree + Certification (Regular, Integrated Courses): Many universities and educational institutions provide degrees coupled with professional certifications and an advanced diploma in a related field. In addition to the standard curriculum subject of that particular university degree, additional contents are added to fulfill the certification program syllabus. This option will benefit students who are in no hurry to get a job immediately after schooling and want to strengthen their academic profile and professional readiness. Example: B.Com with ACCA and Advanced diploma in logistics.

Towards the conclusion of this article, let us realize the importance of certifications and university degrees in one’s career. Though the timing of occurrence of both of these courses may bring a difference in the initial plot in that person’s job, the overall impact will be more-or-less the same. However, having a proper plan of action is more important.

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