When you are studying in college and are a couple of years before graduating, you may be thinking a lot about the time you are spending studying for a college degree vs studying for an IT certification.

So let’s suppose you have a strong academic background. Do you need to get an IT certification?

There are many types of college degrees. But if you are considering an Information Technology job, having a degree related to IT is helpful. This alone could save you a lot of time understanding the basics of computers. But if you don’t, it’s not the end of the world, you still can enroll in an IT degree. There are many online courses given by online schools. But that’s not our main topic here.

Is it mandatory to have an IT certification with a college degree? Not really. Some job listings do not even require IT certifications, such as development positions: these often weigh skills and degrees more than IT certificates. However, other types of jobs do require IT certification. For example, Helpdesk positions often need the A+ certification. Also, network engineer and security engineer positions often require certifications such as CCNA or CCSP.

That being said, a certificate is not always a substitute for a good background in IT. I’ve heard of network architects who don’t even have CCNA.

Companies like to hire -and keep- the best employees. Sure they need certified IT technicians and engineers because companies assume that certified engineers are more skilled than non-certified ones . But having both of them is a plus.

Without any IT certification, college grads will get the same diploma by the end of the schooling period. It’s funny, because when I look back at my own college years, I got the same bachelor degree as one of my peers who used to have low grades. We graduated as network engineers, both of us. So what is the tie breaker?

For students who are still in college, it pays on the long run to study for an IT certification in the spare time, instead of jerking around or flirting with girls. This shall give them a boost over their peers who graduate by the same time as you.

let’s wrap up with two examples. Let’s suppose the following:

  • Ali has a no background in computers and wants to work in IT Support,
  • Salah has an IT degree and wants to work as a network engineer.

Ali should study for a computer certification such as Comptia A+, since he has no previous experience with computers and maintenance. Salah is entering a field with high competition and more advanced requirements. He needs to distinguish himself. He can study for CCNA and increase his chances.



 -Photo credit: Alex Jones-

Categories: Career

Keyboard Banger

Keyboard Banger is a network engineer from Africa. He has been working in network support and administration since 2008. He started writing study notes about certification exams and technology topics a couple of years ago. When he's not writing articles, he can be found wandering on technical forums.


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