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Should you take the CCNA or get a degree?


I was wondering if it would be easier for me to get a job with a two- or four-year degree or just to get CCNA certified.


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Dear William:

A CCNA counts at most as two single-semester college level courses in terms of time, effort, and material covered, or 6 to 8 semester hours of credit. An associate's degree (2 years) usually requires earning 36 to 45 hours of credit, whereas a typical bachelor's degree usually requires earning somewhere between 110 and 130 hours. You tell me: which of the two is worth more to employers?

Simply put, a CCNA is a basic, start-up Cisco cert. Hardly anybody gets hired these days simply on the strength of a single- or dual-exam certification like the CCNA. On the other hand, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a strong and positive correlation between the degree(s) you earn and lifetime earnings and achievement. If you can handle the time, work, and cost involved, go for the degree. Once you earn it, you don't have to renew it every three years, and it's good for life.

The best thing you can do for yourself, in fact, is to get into a degree plan where you also earn certifications on your way to an AA or BA in an IT discipline of some kind. Many programs include such options or requirements nowadays, and will give you the best of both worlds.

HTH, and thanks for posting,

This was first published in October 2007

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