#1 Posted by MorkaiTheWolf (185 posts) -

So this is a topic I've been discussing with my fellow class mates for the past 2 years and my boss who is contemplating getting all the workers certified in our respective fields as a supplement to our degree.

A little back story is I suppose in need here:

I'm a graduating senior studying web programming (that means I work on the coding site of websites and applications in languages such as HTML, CSS, jQuery, Ajax, SQL and many others) and I've been having trouble to find someone willing to hiring me when I graduate. The reason alot of the people turn me down is of course experience (which I understand you need for any job market) but I've also been told by a few bigger companies they want people certified in the languages more than they want people who have a degree in that field of study. I'm curious to know if this is normal or is it just them trying to pull my leg and give me a reason to deny me? If it were simply my resume I could understand but I've done some big work for my school's site and structure and also any previous job I've worked at.

Maybe I'm over thinking it and just need to take a step back and look for someone hiring people straight out of college but it's kinda hard. I can't really look in my hometown (of Detroit, MI, USA) because alot of people have left so I've been broadening my search to other big cities such as Chicago, Dallas and Seattle. What is your opinion on this? Do you think it's more important to have a college degree in your profession or to have certification (which can be varied dependent on the study)?

#2 Posted by VisariLoyalist (2991 posts) -

I by no means am an expert but you can just note my opinion as a data point I guess? I think college degrees are more about forcing someone to prove they are capable of learning and doing good work in large part and maybe some fundemental ideas but ultimately most of what you do in a job you learn on the job anyways. So basically if someone has an amazing body of work demonstrated by a degree or a portfolio or past work experience that's going to be worth a lot and could be applied to just about any field. I don't know much about programming however you would know better really of the realities involving the certification process.

#3 Posted by MorkaiTheWolf (185 posts) -

@VisariLoyalist: I'm not expecting everyone to have intricate understanding of the issues here. I just want honest opinions and I appreciate yours. This topic though is something I had issue with more when I was focusing on purely HTML and CSS (two programming languages for building websites) because my adviser recommended I get professional certification from Adobe (who makes Dreamweaver, Photoshop and many others) to show the company hiring me that I am certified by a big company. I was honestly crestfallen at this because during the course of the meeting he made it sound like the certification from adobe would count more than the degree I've spent going on 4 years working on now.

#4 Posted by Mageman (352 posts) -

A lot of people in the IT industry I met who worked as admins/network admins usually had a HS diploma and some Cisco certificates, and they were quite well off in a position which pays a lot and is not easily affordable to lose. When it comes to programming I don't really know, I imagine that you learned a lot already in Uni and that the rest can be taught to you at the workplace. But a HS diploma + degrees seem to get you jobs as well.

#5 Posted by Kidavenger (3380 posts) -

The certifications are industry wide standards and will let the employer know exactly what they can expect from you and everyone else with that same cert, while college degrees vary widely in quality and experience. I'm not in your industry, but I'd look for professional certs to make my first cuts then I would look at portfolios to make a decision on whether someone gets an interview or not.

#6 Edited by AlexW00d (6059 posts) -

From what I can tell, these days uni degrees are getting less and less important to employers; more and more kids are going to uni just 'cause they think they should, not because they want to better themselves, and uni degrees don't teach anyone how to do a job. Employers want people who will know what they are doing from day 1, not people who they will have to spend money on training them up to standard.

I'd say get yourself some certificates or what not, and code the shit out of stuff, if not just for a portfolio. (You have a portfolio right? That's needed for programming?)

E:@Kidavenger said:

The certifications are industry wide standards and will let the employer know exactly what they can expect from you and everyone else with that same cert, while college degrees vary widely in quality and experience. I'm not in your industry, but I'd look for professional certs to make my first cuts then I would look at portfolios to make a decision on whether someone gets an interview or not.

That is basically what I said but more concise.

#7 Posted by Okari (166 posts) -

You should always get certified when it comes to software development. It doesn't cost that much, and it puts you above most other candidates. That being said, these days not even having certs and a degree can land you an entry level job. Most listings I've seen over the years start with "Entry Level Engineer" and then you look down a bit further, "Must have 5+ years of work experience with these random languages we picked out of a hat".

Keep trying, but maybe look into freelance.

#8 Posted by Muerthoz (344 posts) -

The engineers/tech guys where I work hire based on certification or experience. Having a degree in a certain field is a bit general but if you're certified for a certain program or piece of hardware, then it helps them decide if you're the best qualified person to work on the equipment that we have.

#9 Edited by cinemandrew (711 posts) -

@MorkaiTheWolf: Certifications are a good selling point for you, and potentially for the company you're working for. For you, certifications are pretty much a guaranteed bump in salary. For employers, they can tell clients that they have a programmer with a list of certifications. A degree is absolutely important, and that experience will absolutely help you in life, but in an industry where specific knowledge and experience are often crucial for the success of a project, certifications give a clearer indication of your expertise. Your degree only gives a broad indication of your specialty, and a general indication of the quality of your education. If you're (for instance) Cisco certified, you've taken the same test as others that have recently been certified, and they know exactly what that means.

The problem with many certifications is that they don't necessarily prove that you're competent in that field, so much as you are good at memorizing.

#10 Posted by Stonyman65 (2405 posts) -

Most of the IT people I know (engineers and sys admins) just have certifications. In fact, most of them actually dropped out of college courses because they didn't need them.

What matters in IT is experience. The person with certifications and 2+ years of on-the- job experience is going to have a better chance than someone with X degree and no on-the-job experience.

My suggestion is learn what you need to learn and get certified in it. Get some real life, on-the-job experience (like an internship) and once you feel you are experienced enough, go for a career in what you want to do.

#11 Posted by Stonyman65 (2405 posts) -

@MorkaiTheWolf said:

@VisariLoyalist: I'm not expecting everyone to have intricate understanding of the issues here. I just want honest opinions and I appreciate yours. This topic though is something I had issue with more when I was focusing on purely HTML and CSS (two programming languages for building websites) because my adviser recommended I get professional certification from Adobe (who makes Dreamweaver, Photoshop and many others) to show the company hiring me that I am certified by a big company. I was honestly crestfallen at this because during the course of the meeting he made it sound like the certification from adobe would count more than the degree I've spent going on 4 years working on now.

The place you want to start is getting your baseline certifications from CompTIA and Microsoft. Most companies won't even let you in the door unless you have these certifications and years of work experience.

http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/cert-overview.aspx

http://certification.comptia.org/home.aspx