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What is more important - a degree or certification?

Which is more important for companies hiring IT people ? a degree or certifications?

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You might or might not be surprised how many times I'm asked this question. These days, hiring managers tend to prefer people with both degrees and IT certifications whenever possible, but would probably prefer people with IT certifications over those with degrees outside the fields of computer science, computer engineering, software design, MIS, or other IT-relevant fields of study. On the other hand, consider this fact: whereas many IT certifications must be replaced or maintained at anywhere from two to four year intervals, once you earn a college degree you get to keep it for life. In the long run, I can't help but urge you to get the degree first and consider certification second (or look for a degree program that includes certifications as part of its curriculum, as many of them do nowadays.)

This was first published in May 2003

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