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10 Reasons a Professional Certification is Better than a Degree

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10 Advantages of Digital Marketing Certifications over Digital Marketing Degrees

Krista Neher

Feb 02 2022

When choosing the best program to upskill in digital marketing there are many options. In digital marketing or social media marketing, most professionals are choosing between:

  • Industry Certification
  • Degree from a College or University
  • Diploma from a College or University
  • Course from a “Guru” or “Expert”
  • Online Course from a Marketplace

There are many considerations when choosing the right digital marketing training for you or your organization. When comparing a digital marketing certification vs. a digital marketing degree there are a number of considerations.

Degrees definitely do have benefits for business professionals, however, in a quickly evolving space like digital marketing professional certifications can offer a number of advantages.

  1. You Can Enter the Job Market Faster

    If you are ready to enter the job market, certifications allow you to enter the job market more quickly. A degree typically takes 1 – 4 years to attain, which is a LONG time in the digital world.

    A Certification can often be completed in a month because the content is condensed and more practical focused vs. theoretical. This gets you in the job market faster.

  2. Employers Value Skills over Degrees

    Ultimately most employers value skills over degrees. They want to know what you can actually DO not what you KNOW. Certifications are generally considered to be more practical and emphasize skills.

    NOTE: You’ll want to check that any certification you take is accredited and industry-recognized.

  3. The Information is More Updated

    The information in certificates is usually more up-to-date and updated more often vs. in a degree. The academic process to create and launch content is L-O-N-G. This means that it isn’t always as up-to-date.

    Certificates tend to be updated more frequently because there is less process involved. For example, our certification is updated monthly. Industry degrees that I participate in create the content 1 year in advance and run the same content for a minimum of 3 years.

  4. Certifications are Practical vs. Theoretical

    Certifications tend to focus on the practical implementation of concepts and the skills needed to do the work. They are usually very hands-on and taught by industry practitioners.

    Degrees focus on some practical application, but a lot of theoretical content as well. When I wrote a textbook a lot of content was added to provide theoretical background, share academic studies, and additional research. While this context may be interesting, it isn’t directly applicable.

  5. Certifications are More Affordable

    Certifications are usually more affordable than degrees. A degree normally costs upward of $10K (up to $100K) to attain. Most professional certifications are available for $5K or less.

  6. Industry Practitioners and Leaders vs. Academics

    Certifications are usually taught by industry practitioners and leaders. They actually DO digital marketing. They can provide real-world perspectives and applications. They know the actual pitfalls. They know what really works. They know HOW to actually implement.

    Degrees are usually taught by academics. While they have a strong understanding of the content and have educated themselves, they lack practical experience and application.

  7. Focused vs. General

    Certifications are usually shorter to attain, so they usually contain focused content. They don’t have a lot of theory or content that isn’t directly linked to executing. Degrees usually require a lot of different topics – some may not be relevant to what you ultimately want to do.

  8. Application vs. Knowledge

    Certificates are usually focused on the application of the concepts. For example, a digital marketing certification will explain what it is, why it matters, and how to implement it. The instructors are usually sharing specific and actionable content. Our certifications all include implementation resources like Quickstart Guides, Checklists, and more to drive results.

    Degrees are usually more focused on knowledge or application in theoretical situations. For example, you may have a case study about e-bay, but it isn’t likely to reflect an actual situation that most digital marketers would deal with.

  9. Accelerated, Relevant Material

    Most certifications focus on practical, applicable information. The content is as long or short as is appropriate for the subject matter. There is no set format or requirements for assignments, tests, discussions, etc. The program is designed based on being valuable to growing skills and results.

    Most degrees are built to fit into a certain format. For example, they need to contain a certain number of hours, have certain requirements, etc. This can make them more time-consuming to gain the same amount of knowledge and skill.

  10. Certifications offer More Flexibility

    Generally speaking, most certifications provide more flexibility. They often allow you to complete the content at your own pace – as quickly or slowly as you’d like. They also often have more flexibility about requirements (e.g. due dates for assignments, when you take your final exam, etc.)

    Degrees are often fairly rigid in how the courses are structured and completed.

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