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What is the Difference Between a Degree and Certificate?

It is important to note that most careers require employees to have achieved a certain degree or certification. The requirements vary according to the industry that you are working in or want to work in, so it is important to research the industry first.

An associate’s degree and/or certification can open up new opportunities for you and your career. It is important to understand the differences between a certificate program and an associate’s degree in order to determine which is right for you.

What is a Certificate?

Getting a certification usually means that you completed a specialized form of training. Also, it can mean that you have the technical knowledge of a specific field. Generally it is faster to complete when compared to getting a degree, as most certification programs take less than a year to complete. It is valuable when it comes to advancing your career and enhancing your knowledge. Often, they do not require an extensive theory or education background though this is not always the case. Certifications can also augment the credentials of someone who has a degree.

How is an Associate's Degree Different?

An associate's degree is a stepping stone toward achieving a higher level academic degree such as a bachelor’s degree (certification is not). If you are looking to continue on working toward achieving a bachelor’s degree or other higher level degree, you should work toward your associate’s degree rather than participate in a certificate program. If this is not of concern to you, and you wish to complete the program more quickly, a certificate program is a better option.

If you are focused on achieving long term educational goals it is probably better to get a degree. From an associate degree to a bachelor’s degree up to getting advanced graduate level degrees, having a degree gives you a head start towards these (versus certification). Getting a degree implies that you have learned from a broader knowledge base (including theory) and have the accomplishment of a college degree.

Quick Summary

  1. Certifications usually do not require a broad knowledge base as compared to degrees.
  2. Certifications are faster to get than degrees that ordinarily require two to four years for completion. Certification programs are made up of multiple classes, not just a one-time exam, but can usually be completed in less than one year.
Source: www.onlinecommunitycolleges.org
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