With the growing cost of higher education, many are turning to credentials and certificates. The reason for this shift is because certificates and credentials are more affordable and can be completed in a shorter amount of time. The perception is that credentials and certificates offer more direct routes to a job in comparison to a Bachelors and a Masters. However, that may not be the case as we will discuss.

How Direct Is the Route?

Certificates and credentials may not necessarily lead to a direct job when completed. Although a Bachelors Degree takes a lot longer and is usually covers a field more broadly, it has become a staple that employers want to see on resumes. But that doesn’t mean that credentials or certificates have not given people good paying jobs. However, there are two factors that lead to such a result according to the article “In Most Cases, Education Credentials Are Not Viable Alternatives to College:” the type of credential and what institution you received it from.

In 2012, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce conducted a study on credentials. The study did find some positive situations where people who got a credential and were able to get a job with pay equal to or more than someone with an Associates. However, the field of study was important, for it was those that received a credential in aviation, refrigeration, and computer technology that saw the most benefit.

On the other hand, the study found that only 44 percent of people that received a credential were working in the field of their certification. When people are not able to work in their specific field with their credential, the study found that the benefits were basically negated. In the report, they state “the earnings of the median certificate holder who works outside his or her field of study are only 1 percent higher than the median high school-educated worker.”

Adding Certifications and Credentials

If you already have a degree or are working toward one, you may want to consider adding a certificate or a credential in the mix. When you know what field, you want to go into, and what skills you will need for that specific field, that is where obtaining a credential or a certificate can be most beneficial. It can bolster your resume further by allowing you to sell the skills you have developed. Naturally, this needs to be in line with what the employer is looking for in regard to the position you are attempting to fill.

My goal here is to not steer anyone away from going after a credential or a certificate. In some situations, it is a great addition and even a better route than a degree. For the latter, these situations are heavily dependent on the field and where you are getting your certifications. When it comes to adding to your resume, I know several family friends that got a certification along with their degree that allowed them to get a job that in most cases required a Masters. Do your research beforehand if you are considering a certificate or a credential, and make sure that you are going to get a positive return on investment.