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I am currently interning and working with data and voice. It's interesting. Should I get my Master's

I am in my last year of college pursuing an EE degree. Currently I am interning with at a corporation concentrating on networking with data and voice. I am interested in data communications and networking. Should I pursue a Master's in EE concentrating in networking or should I try and obtain as many certs as I can?

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Finding the answer to your question ("accumulating certs versus advanced degree") will result as much from soul-searching and following your interests and proclivities as anything I can say. Most employers seem to grant more or less equal (but not overwhelming) weight when choosing between degrees and certs at the undergraduate level, so I believe the situation is similar for those who obtain more advanced certs versus more advanced degrees. That said, some companies hire only individuals with Master's degrees (or higher); I worked for one such outfit – Schlumberger -- myself in the 1980s. If you've got the time, the money, and the energy, the Master's may very well open the door to more opportunities for you than cert will, particularly if you want to work in research and development as opposed to "in the IT trenches." But only you can decide what works best for you, what you can afford, and what interests you the most.

Follow your inclinations in this matter, and though your career may not take off like a rocket, you'll find better satisfaction in the long run.

This was first published in March 2004

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