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degree || certification or degree && certification for future career.


bytedeez
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If you can't figure it out by the tittle exactly what i mean i'll explain it here.

As online learning become more and more popular, i feel the need to ask this question.

In the world of Software Engineering how important is a degree in CS or software development compared to becoming certified?

Is a degree really necessary for employment? or having certifications in a few languages hold the same weight.

I know the obvious choice is to have both a degree with certifications on top of that but what if someone had to choose between the 2?

Any software devs have experience with this kind of example? Anyone an HR rep for a software company?

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Experience trumps all.

A degree or certification is only that much paper. In lieu of experience it can show that you know what it's about, but experience without a degree ranks higher than a degree without experience.

In areas where a certification is required to actually do the work (either by law or companies this employer services demand this from it) it's more important to have certifications. Me, I work in healthcare. I had to provide a "Verklaring omtrent gedrag" (government-issued "statement of conduct"). Without it, they can't hire me, plain and simple.

Since a certification tends to be a lot more specific these tend to be valued over a degree, but when your certifications don't quite match the requirements for the job they might look at your degree to assess for themselves how likely it would be for you to acquire the required certifications once they hire you, and they might bring you on board with a clause in your contract that you're required to get certain certifications within the next X months otherwise your contract will be terminated and for those X months your pay will be less than what the job would otherwise provide you. Once you get the certs your pay would then be raised to the normal level.

About that government-issued "statement of conduct", it's to prevent people convicted of fraud from working at a bank or convicted child molesters from working at a daycare. You can get one even with a criminal record but your criminal act is not allowed to cast into doubt the trust that is required from you in the job you're applying for. So if you killed someone driving drunk, you won't get one for a job driving a politician but you can get one for some job at a bank because in general your integrity is still sound. For high-profile jobs (military, higher echelons of government) a background check is also performed by the secret service which can cast a pretty wide net to ensure the criminal husband of your niece will get you to do something you shouldn't.

The way getting one works is your employer gives you the forms needed and you go to your city hall to request the VOG. In a week or two you get a letter with the filled out form saying you either did or didn't pass. You can then choose to provide this letter to your employer, but not providing it means your job will terminate. The point of the exercise is to let a company do some vetting of its staff without actually seeing their criminal record, assuming they have one.

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To my mind the strength of a degree comes from the broad range of knowledge that must be learnt and applied. Certification on the other hand says you have a deep understanding of a very specific area.

Which is better is really a case of what the job you're doing will involve. If you're going to be staying well within the confines of a specialist area then certification should show you have the skills and will be what they are looking for. If you're going to be expected to cover lots of bases and pick up new skills as required then the broader degree will be of more benefit.

As already mentioned though, don't underestimate the value of experience. The fact that you are already doing the job and have been for a number of years holds a lot of sway with recruiters.

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I went through this same thought process a couple years back. I'm still working on my degree, and will finish it this summer, but I have a lot of certifications and experience that got me the current job I have. I've found a degree to be more of a check in the box rather than proof of knowledge. However, I see the importance of it and I plan on starting a Master's program at the end of this year or beginning of next year to further my education even more. Plus the pay raise that you can negotiate after you have a degree is quite nice.

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Thanks for the replies!

The reason why I am asking is because I am currently taking training classes for c# certification using Microsoft Virtual Academy. Which I find to be very helpful, knowledgeable and challenging. For a matter of fact if it wasn't for previously learning some fundamental concepts of programming in Java from other sources I doubt I would understand it at all.

The reason why I am doing this is to become certified languages including c# php, javascript and html5 in hopes of finding a better career where I can afford to get my degree. But I'm hoping I'mI'm not wasteing my time.

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Find an open source project that uses one or more of those languages and become involved. Learn from the people on there that are already skilled and do your best to run along.

Eventually your work will flow into their tree and you've got something to show to a prospective employer beyond just a piece of paper.

It also shows you're motivated, which is always a good thing.

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So the gest of what you guys are saying is. Once i learn how to code and get certified, use my knowledge and either start building applications but also join other projects and learn from he more experienced coders, Because not only will that expand my knowledge but it will also gain my experience myself. Which makes sense.

I went and looked up software dev jobs in my area to see what requirements employers were looking for. Most of them wanted a ba/bs or MS degree in CS and experience or the equivalent in experience.

What are some other techniques you guys use or see?

I was thinking about once i get confident enough in my skills to seek employment, to add to my resume' that i will work the first 30-90 days for free. Has either one of you took this approach just to get your foot in the door?

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Actually, what I and I think Sud0nick is also saying is start building applications for yourself and on other projects now. There's no need to wait for a cert, nobody on those projects cares if you have one or not. Talking to those people can make you understand the language much better - having a language construct explained to you from multiple viewpoints can help you get a much deeper understanding of what exactly that means and why it's useful.

Regarding the first X days work for free - don't. It only shows you're desperate. They will hire you on the assumption that you'll make your money's worth. Spend time making this visible in both your resume and your application letter. The application letter is the hard part. Your resume is just a list of things you did previously (I might be mixing things up a bit. I'm thinking resume == Curriculum Vitae) which is just a list of facts. Try to ensure that list is well-stocked with relevant information. Try to not have any gaps on the timeline. If you spent a few months collecting garbage on a dump truck, list it, even though it has nothing to do with the career you're after. It shows you've got character and looks a lot better than a gap in the timeline where the prospective employer can choose for himself how you actually filled in that blank.

The trick about the form letter is that it should be instantly engaging and convey in only a few words why you want to work with *THAT* company more than anything else. That includes you having to do a bit of research into what that company does, who it does that for and how you might be of use to them, within the boundaries of the application and beyond that. If they ask for something which you don't have, point out the things you did that were similar in some way and say that you're more than willing to get the requested certs that you currently lack. Like DigiNinja did on his About page. There's a few certs he has and a few that are currently expired. Since they're expired he's of no use to any employer that would require him to have that, but because he can prove he previously did have those certs it's not difficult to argue he'd be quite easily able to renew the cert when someone's willing to invest in that.

If you feel you're not sufficiently experienced in something, admit to that in your letter. Don't see it as a knock against you. It might result in you getting hired at the entry level where they were really looking for a medior/senior employee, but your application letter and resume showed them that you have what it takes to grow. Your age is mostly a factor here. If you're 50 and you're applying for an entry-level position as a programmer when they're looking for a medior/senior, you're not getting in anytime soon. During an interview for the job they're certain to come back to the fact that you wrote you're not very experienced. What they'll want to know is how much you do know and how willing you are to learn. They'll offer you less pay if you were to get the job than they may have advertised since you're not at the level requested, but that's to be discussed during the interview and no sooner!

Remember: 99.999% of all resumes are dead boring. Find a way to make yours stand out from the crowd. The best way to do that is to make your application letter *short* (that about page of DigiNinja is a good example of that too). Remember, some poor guy has to read a gazillion of those letters and if you think he's going to get more than 8 lines in before tossing your letter aside, you're fooling yourself.

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Actually, what I and I think Sud0nick is also saying is start building applications for yourself and on other projects now. There's no need to wait for a cert, nobody on those projects cares if you have one or not. Talking to those people can make you understand the language much better - having a language construct explained to you from multiple viewpoints can help you get a much deeper understanding of what exactly that means and why it's useful.

This is exactly what I was saying. The more experience you have the more valuable you will be to an employer. Although I did talk to a recruiter about a Python dev job a couple weeks ago (he knew nothing about IT or programming which didn't help) and he didn't like the fact that my Python experience was homegrown. So it may not help you all the time but you have to start somewhere and the best place to start is right at home.

Regarding the first X days work for free - don't. It only shows you're desperate. They will hire you on the assumption that you'll make your money's worth.

I agree completely. Do not work for free. Walk in to a job with confidence, do the best work you can, and get paid for it.

If you feel you're not sufficiently experienced in something, admit to that in your letter. Don't see it as a knock against you. It might result in you getting hired at the entry level where they were really looking for a medior/senior employee, but your application letter and resume showed them that you have what it takes to grow.

Make sure you do this in the right way. Don't directly say you are lacking in a specific area but instead list your skills in order from strongest to weakest. It's always a good idea to list everything you know but make sure the employer knows where you strive. Even your weak skills can come in handy somewhere. Once you get into a job you'll refine the skills that job requires anyway. If it happens to be one of your weaker skills you will just learn a lot more in a shorter period of time.

Edited by sud0nick
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I don't have any certs or degree in software development but I have a lot of experience which is how I got my job as a software developer and a programming instructor at a local college.

You can do anything as long as you can prove to other people that you are as good as you say

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't have any certs or degree in software development but I have a lot of experience which is how I got my job as a software developer and a programming instructor at a local college.

You can do anything as long as you can prove to other people that you are as good as you say

That's certainly true. However, having certs and a degree definitely get you more money for doing what you love.

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  • 2 months later...

I've always found a degree more proves your willingness to learn and demonstrates your desire to better yourself. I have a degree completely unrelated to my job in IT, that got me in the door to the interview and discussions about my experience and passion is what actually secured the job.

So having certifications will hopefully do the same thing for you, and your personal projects will get you the rest of the way. Good luck :smile:

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