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Degrees and Certifications

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
When I spoke with my sister the other night, I was trying to encourage her to go obtain an Associates at the very minimum. She was recently layed off and did her previous job for 15 years.

She was telling me that her and a friend both agree that degrees are worthless. Basically she used an example of one class I took during my Bachelor's that was Native American Literature and asking how I use that class in my everyday work life. While yes, I have since slowed my Native American Lit readings (read most of my fav authors books), still, I look at it as an opportunity to learn a new culture.

I've also seen a resistance among people I know whose job opportunities now require certifications, either through a private org or a state cert. They're claiming that its a waste of money as well; and that everything should be based on experience rather than whether or not you're certified.

Now I'm interested in your opinions...I'm asking if you think they're worth getting rather than relying on certifications/degrees.
post #2 of 23
i think it depends on the job.i didn't get a degree until i decided to get a job that required one. i also taught my 1st year w/an emergency certification... ended up getting my regular one since i didn't get a position the next year [left the 1st school thru my own choice]. anyway, by the time i got my official certification, i already had worked 15+ years in another field, taught for a year, substitute taught for 1/2 a year, student taught for 1/2 a year - not too sure the certification meant much to me. i did it because i had to - state regs. 'course, i do a lot of things for work simply because i must, not because i think they're the best or smartest way.
post #3 of 23
I absolutely think it is a good idea to keep up your certifications. I became a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) in 1984 (Associates degree + certification), a Certified First Assistant (CFA) in 1994 (another Associates degree + certification), got my BSN in 2000 and became a Certified Registered Nurse First Assistant (CRNFA, yet another certification) in 2004. It's become a bit of a joke in my family...that I'm accumulating letters after my name! I like the fact that the people I work with can see from my certifications, that I am qualified to perform any job in the Operating Room; Circulating Nurse, First Assistant, or Surgical Scrub Tech.

Besides, knowledge is something to be proud of. It's something that can't be taken away from you. It also can be that little 'something' that allows you to get a promotion or position over the competition.
post #4 of 23
Even if you do a more generic degree like an Arts degree or a Philosophy degree, and one that isn't necessarily job-specific at all (like your Native American Literature class) proving that you have had the discipline, commitment and application to pursue and complete higher education will stand you in very good stead with many employers.

I agree that these days experience and on-the-job knowledge are vitally important - and can be the sole `qualification' that you need - but I still believe some kind of completed tertiary education is very, very important, too.
post #5 of 23
Certifications and such are proof that you do have the experience and knowledge needed to competently do the job.

I got a degree in the area I thought I wanted to work in. Turns out I didn't. Can't say that I use a lot of the stuff I use in college in my day to day life, but I wouldn't trade that degree. Like Sarah said, it does prove the ability to follow through. And surprisingly, I really do use a lot more of what I learned than not.
post #6 of 23
A wise friend who had a PHD 8 yrs after high school yet was a euntrapeneur said of degrees ...

the more schooling you have = the more another can train you ... She did not think a degree made a big impact other than showing you can do what your told...

I went to school for nutrition yet the most important job I had was caregiver that experience was well worth not getting a piece of paper saying I can.... I do have lots of little certificates yet none have to do with my current profession NOR do they help me in day to day life... for me it = YEAH I can do that if I need to
post #7 of 23
I really do think that how important the certificates are depends on your position. I saw a really neat association that I could join that would let me put a credential behind my name. It was something like the Association for Architecture and Engineering Administrators. They did offer some nice educational things as well as the title, but basically if I paid the money I'd have the title. A few years ago (it may have changed by now) there were Home Inspection associations that were the same way - it gave you something to put under your name but it didn't actually mean anything in the industry. But to someone outside the industry who would actually hire you to use your services, it made you look more credible than Joe Schmoe, Home Inspector if you were Joe Schmoe, Member of the International Home Inspection Association.
post #8 of 23
Certifications are not the same as a degree-

I am all for competence testing I defiantly want my scrub nurse to be able to demonstrate she is compentant - how ever I really don't care if she knows squat about the history of the Chinese dynasty.

I think colleges requiring all those extra classes that has nothing to do with the actually field of study is a racket -
post #9 of 23
In specialised areas such as medicine, law, teaching, engineering and so forth I think it's a given that you MUST have a degree in that field. Certifications are different, I agree, but these also tend to be industry-specific and therefore can be valuable.

A lot of courses I think have all the extra stuff in the first year (such as when I did sound engineering I had to do art history in my first year) to just introduce you to university and to study, and to give you a broad spectrum of subjects to concentrate on studying so that you get used to life as a tertiary student and to introduce you slowly to your degree. With the exception of a few degrees (i.e. medicine) I think the aim is to give young people the opportunity to ease into a new lifestyle, and perhaps explore their options a little, rather than locking in to the one specialist area of study immediately.

It used to annoy me about university but I can see why they might do it.
post #10 of 23
I can honestly say that I have, at various times, used most of the knowledge I gained in college - even if it wasn't relate to my major. The idea is to turn out a well-rounded graduate, not just someone with knowledge and experience in just one area.

College teaches you how to learn, communicate and think things through. You get on-the-job experience to round your training.

Registration and certification are more/less valuable based on who the governing body is - national/state or joe blows company.
post #11 of 23
Originally Posted by Mom of 4 View Post
I can honestly say that I have, at various times, used most of the knowledge I gained in college - even if it wasn't relate to my major. The idea is to turn out a well-rounded graduate, not just someone with knowledge and experience in just one area.

College teaches you how to learn, communicate and think things through. You get on-the-job experience to round your training.
What she said!
post #12 of 23
I didn't get my college degree until I was in my 30s. By then I had been working 20 years. I never actually used my degree to get a better job. When I got out of college, the job I got was one that was actually lower than if I had spent that time working.

However, I had promotional opportunities that would not have been available if I had not had the degree.

Then I got sick, and have never worked full-time since. Such is life.

I've never been sorry I went to college though. I learned how to judge and analyze the truth of what I hear and see, and to present my own thoughts and feelings much more clearly.

Certificates are different. I have a teacher friend who thinks the courses required for the teaching certificate are just made up to get tuition fees for the state schools. When I taught for a year and a half I wondered the same thing.
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
Heidi, you are right in stating that certificates offer a title with your career. In the IT world that makes the difference between you being IT and being a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. I know for the area of study I'm aiming to stay in, I need to get at least two certificates. The crazy thing is that order for me to keep one, I have to visit seminars and such...but those will also keep me up to date.

Mom of 4 - you stated the difference well.

I keep forgetting that not every profession requires some form of degree...but that's due to the area of profession I stepped into which is quite different from what my sister was.
post #14 of 23
I am a welder. I can get certifications, they Might help me, but not for sure. If I were to want to move into some sort of managerial position, I would probably need a degree. I think that both certifications and degrees can be useful to anyone. I do not agree with how public schools basically tell students that, unless they go to college and get a degree, then they won't have a worthwhile career. That is a load of hogwash...
post #15 of 23
I'm also in IT and have spent close to 30 years surviving in that field without a degree, but I'm rare. Not having a degree has prevented me from getting the promotion to the level that I've been working at for the last 15 years.

I've gone to various colleges to try to get credits for life experience but they pretty much want you to take the basic courses that they would offer to someone with no experience. I chuckle, as I've actually provided consultation to college professors, consulted with text books, have done public speaking as a subject matter expert, have been written up in the Wall Street Journal and have a Master's Certificate. But they want me to take Logistics 101 before they will give me a single life credit. I'm just too old and don't have the time to start the process.

If you want to continue to advance yourself in certain fields, get the degree. It will save you frustration later in life.
post #16 of 23
A degree says that your CAPABLE of learning. That's why the military, for example, doesn't care what your degree is in when they send you to Officer Training School.

I once had a boss that wouldn't hire a high-school dropout even to dig a ditch for him. He said if you can't stick out an English class in an air-conditioned classroom, how are you going to keep digging in 100 degree heat?

Personally, I think that was a little extreme, but he was the one who was rich, not me!
post #17 of 23
I know teachers who think getting masters, and continuing education is "pointless". Yes some of the lectures can be very boring, and getting a masters is very expensive. When you have been teacher for 15-20+ years, things are likely to change!
post #18 of 23
They are valuable and they are important in the job force. I have worked as a recruiter and understand their importance. The degree says more about you than just the degree itself to recruiters, even if you have the experience, they want to see that degree – good, bad, right or wrong, I have seen a degree open doors for candidates and be the deciding factor many times.
I also have several degrees and these have opened doors for me that wouldn’t have opened otherwise. When you go to a real university it isn’t just about the degree, it is also about networking big time and other important things, which helps you in the real world a lot and is applicable to landing a great job. If you read a lot of the job postings many REQUIRE at least a bachelor’s degree, at least more of the ones that pay decent. And that is just for entry level. This is becoming more and more commonplace. The job market in the US is becoming harder for people; harder and more competitive than the days behind when going to college wasn’t just automatically the path for graduating high school kids, more and more people are attaining degrees today in the US than in the past for various reasons.
post #19 of 23
Here you have to have a spesific degree for almost ever job. I don't think you can even get a (proper full time) cleaning position without a degree in cleaning services.

My job (journalist) has no official qualifications. Still, in practice you have to have a university degree of some kind (mine is MA in history) or a lower level degree in media studies. I've heard the non-uni media studies people may have a hard time finding work.
post #20 of 23
Of course, as someone that holds a M.Ed. degree, I am somewhat biased, but I think degreas and certification are important in many fields/jobs...
For example:
Would you want a doctor operating on you that had no college experience and was just starting out using real patients as guinea pigs?
What about nurses, dentists, etc.? Do you want them to have some experience before starting out in the real world working with real clients/patients?

Ok, medicine is an "easy out"... so let's talk the more traditional "academic" fields.

Business and psychology are two of the most common undergrad degrees. In most cases, I would agree that if you want to work in the business field (customer service, retail, etc.) you CAN do a good job just based on experience...i.e. if you worked in a family business and have had access to all facets of it to learn and grow professionally. But, if you want to go into upper management, or, if you haven't had access to working in many facets of a business, getting a college degree will allow you to at least have EXPOSURE to different fields in business, different stratigies, programs, etc. That can come in helpful later on. Same with accounting, If I want to hire an accountant, I want to know that they can balance a statement, have some tax-related knowledge, and do billing before I hire them. Even just having a degree lets me know that at the very least, they have been exposed to courses on the different types of accounting and various software programs. If they did not have access to that in a college setting, where would they get it?

My undergrad was art, and I can say that it DEFINATELY benefited me. My artwork greatly improved and changed, I learned how to critique artworks in various styles and how to take critique of my own work. I was exposed to artists, styles, and media that I had never known or heard of before. I also learned basics of how to write artist's statements, reviews, and what to expect when dealing with the gallergy system. If I had not gone to college, where would I have come across this wide range of knowledge?

Education was my grad degree and although some folks think "those that can't do, teach"... Let me tell you, teaching is very hard work and actually does require skill, in and of itself, aside from knowing the material. Take any random person and put them in a room with 20 7th grade boys and ask them to teach them a lesson on math, art, etc. and see what happens. Although there is NO replacement for experience, especially when it comes to interacting (and controlling the behavior of) students, knowing techniques, lesson types, how to write a solid lesson plan, and knowing about policy, and legal issues beforehand does really make a difference. If I had not had the experiences I did in college prior to someone dumping me in a classroom with said 20 kids, I wouldn't have known where to start.

Everything I've said so far is about your traditional 4 year degree type college... what about trades and technical work? Plumbers and electricians are also "certified". They are tested via the state (correct me if I'm wrong) to make sure that they actually know what they're doing... I am not sure if they have to have a "degree" per say, but I believe that they are required to be certified. And, I don't think that I'd want someone that wasn't certitied working on my pipes or wiring.

I still think it's kinda funny how everyone wants someone with "experience" but you have to start out from scratch sometime, somewhere. College used to provide you a way to get a "leg up" on the compitition, but now, more and more jobs are calling for graduate degrees as well, so I'm not sure if folks will be able to avoid it much longer... I know that college isn't for everyone and for that reason, I don't like that virtually all jobs now require a bachelor's degree,etc. My uncle is still trying to pass the GRE and get a high school diploma and he's now in his 40's. He is a very smart guy, very people oriented, but school just isn't his thing and I hate that he is limited to "driving" jobs because of his lack of a diploma.

Well, that's my two cents anyway.
post #21 of 23
Credentials and experience are of the utmost priority for finding a job. If you have only credentials but no experience, you can get a job on the bottom of the ladder in the field you want to work in. If you have only experience, but no credentials, you might get a little better job in the field you have experience in, but not likely much higher than where you got the experience. Naturally, if you have neither, you're only eligible for the jobs that require none. To really move up, you've got to have both. Proper credentials and proper experience. Whether the credentials are a college degree, an associate's degree, or a technical certification, just depends on the job. Get what the job requires. You don't need a PhD to be a car salesman. But if you have a certificate from a salesmanship course, that might be your ticket to your first job in the used-car lot. Where you can get the experience.

As far as the knock against useless courses in college, naturally there are going to be courses where what was learned has no application in the chosen career field --- EXCEPT --- we forget that one of the purposes of education is to create a well-rounded person, and a well-rounded person is ALWAYS a better job candidate no matter what the field or the credentials needed in that field. So those useless courses really were worthwhile, after all.
post #22 of 23
Plus there isn't a huge difference between 3 years of experience and 5 years, so while it can seem like a good idea to go straight into a job, a 2 year certification won't cost you much time, and will be worth it later on.
The police fast track your career if you have a degree, so you are promoted to a desk job earlier.

I'm going to try to see how many letters I can get. In my likely career I'll have to be a Dr Cata_mint MSc MSci to get anywhere. 12 years of education... What have I let myself in for?
post #23 of 23
I think it depends on the job and the amount of experience the person has. If someone has been doing he job long enough that he knows it front and back they should have the opportunity to be employed without the certification or degree. My FIL, for example, is the 3rd generation in his family working his job. He has worked his way up the ladder with this company since he was 18 years old, but never went to school for it. I don't think he should lose his job status because someone who holds a degree in engineering comes along. On the other hand, I've also had a similar conversation with my BIL. He lost his job as a mechanic when the owner of the shop walked in one day and said "Clean up this place, I'm shutting down" with no warning or explanation. We live in a small town where the economy has been suffering for years and jobs are scarce. While he has plenty of experience and a great deal of knowledge in his field he has now been out of a job for a year. I've tried to suggest numerous times that he take some classes at the community college. With their income he could attend for free, and with his previous knowledge and experience a lot of the classes required to get an associates degree in some sort of mechanics would be a breeze for him. There is also a cement plant locally that will only hire people who are in a degree program, but will pay for those they hire to finish school and they have the opportunity to make great money. He refuses to take any classes at the community college. I just don't understand it and it drives me crazy. My sister (his wife) hated school as well, but at least she took the time to go to beauty school and get a certificate to do SOMETHING.
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