We have all heard the same old rhetoric when it comes to the debate of which is better: a computer degree or computer certification? Truth be told, each has their own special purpose. There are pros and cons, attached to both. However, they should be considered in the context of what special purpose they serve.
Traditionally, a college education has been the desired medium from which people gain the knowledge to perform in their chosen career. An advantage of this route is that a student gains a broad understanding of how computers work, and how to apply that knowledge in real life. However, the downside is the overall tuition costs, which can be a barrier to many students. On top of that, the time investment has to be factored in, since, potentially, a student seeking a bachelor degree can take anywhere from four (4) to five (5) years to graduate.
Computer certifications are fast becoming a standard way of telling employers that a potential candidate is qualified for a certain task. Unlike college education, where learning is generalized to the principle concepts, computer certifications are very specific to a product. Hence, a certified person has a specialty that would not be gained in a classroom where everything is generalized with conceptual theories. Further, the price for certification is substantially lower than a college degree, and study time is a much shorter path. But, does it look good on paper?
It is of the general opinion that holders of computer degrees have a greater grasp of the management of information systems. Thus, they would be suited for management roles. On the other hand, holders of computer certificates are viewed as being responsible only for the tasks for which their certification states they are qualified for.
There is no right or wrong answer in this dilemma. Making a career choice based on comparison of which is better is pointless. If all a person wants to do is repair computer systems, then being CompTIA A+ certified would be the right path to choose. However, if a person desires to teach computer science in a college or university, then a bachelor and masters degree would apply in this circumstance.
Certifications and degrees show how qualified a person is within a given field. Career decisions should be based on whether a person wants to pursue one career path over the other.