In recent years, online post-secondary colleges and universities have become more popular as affordable, accessible alternatives to traditional in-person institutions. However, there’s a school of thought that says it matters where you earn your college degree since the name and reputation of the school count for a great deal. Western Governors University (WGU) is one such online university offering information technology (IT) degrees and certifications. Are IT degrees and certificates from WGU less valuable in the current job market? An online IT professional community debated this topic, and the responses were mixed.
1. A Career Opening
Certifications are the entrance to an IT career, but that isn’t the be-all and end-all. One online user said that IT professionals with degrees and certifications from WGU must still demonstrate they have the skills required to perform the job. The certificate is the first step in starting or advancing an IT career. However, students with degrees and certificates must prove themselves to reach the goal of landing a job.
2. Neither Here nor There
A second person said they don’t believe WGU’s certifications don’t add or lower the worth of IT certifications. From their point of view, having a certificate without any relevant job experience is the same as having a college degree without any work history. No experience means no experience, no matter the context. Potential employers want more from job applicants.
3. It’s the Degree That Counts
A third person in the discussion figured that students in WGU’s IT program most likely have an IT background and possess at least one or more certifications. The university doesn’t hand out certificates with the degree. Students must take and pass exams to earn those certifications, so they have considerable value regardless of where the degree is from.
4. Give WGU graduates a Chance
An IT professional in the thread writes that based on their interactions with graduates of WGU’s IT and certification programs, students have prior IT experience and either obtain certifications for their current careers or are working to change careers. If they were hiring, they wouldn’t pass over a WGU graduate but would verify their scope of knowledge.
5. The Exam Is the Exam
Another IT worker thinks if a student passes the certification, why should it matter where they studied? Suppose the student attended WGU, learned from a massive open online course (MOOC) like Udemy, Coursera, or edX, or studied using materials obtained directly from the provider. In that case, passing the certification exam matters, not how they got there.
6. Experience Matters
A college degree and certifications are great, but those alone are not enough, insists another IT expert. Regardless of how the student earned their credentials, real-world experience is needed to back up what the subject matter. A degree, certifications, and experience are the three elements required to land an IT career.
7. Certifications Devalue Themselves
One commenter with more than 20 years of experience in the tech industry believes that the sheer number of certifications makes them less valuable. They feel there are IT professionals who hold multiple certifications but need to demonstrate they can perform the work the specific IT role demands even though they were able to pass their certification exams.
8. Dishonesty Lowers Their Value
The number of certifications and the path students take to earn them don’t devalue credentials, nor does being a WGU graduate, writes a contributor to the forum. WGU has nothing to do with the idea that IT certificates are perceived to have less value than they once did. Certifications are less valuable when aspiring IT workers are dishonest about or exaggerate their skills.
9. Certifications Matter
If you take a quick look at IT openings on any job board, it shows that many career descriptions require applicants to possess one or more specialized IT certificates. As long as employers demand IT workers have these credentials, then certifications will continue to have value in the IT industry. When employers no longer require workers to hold certificates, they lose value.
10. Too Quick and Easy
One reader complains that Western Governors University makes their programs too easy and fast for students to complete, which defeats the purpose of a college degree. In doing so, WGU certifications mean less, and their legitimacy is questioned. They believe WGU’s program is little more than a cram session, which lowers the value of certificates earned by WGU graduates.
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