Getting an IT job: Certification, Experience or Degree?


The job pool is now swarming with IT jobs and people are looking for a doorway into the industry.  This opened a debate on whether you need an actual college degree to break in or experience in a similar job will suffice. In this article, we will have a look at what hiring managers look for in CVs and what kind of skill blend you should get to increase your chances of landing a job in the field.

We shall break it down to certifications, higher education degrees and experience in similar jobs.


According to surveys led amongst recruiters and managers, certifications hold a leading spot. Professionals say that people who have certifications to back up their IT skills are valued and have proven to be good experts in their sector. However, are certifications enough when browsing through a resume?

It will definitely take you closer to an interview. How recent your certification is though, shows recruiters how up to date your skills are and the effort you’ve recently put into getting better.

Aside from showing the knowledge, you gained through training, certificates also indicate that you have been committed to learning and getting better. It translates into valuable employees that will not shy away from work and self-development.

College degrees

Compared to certificates that target certain programming languages or specific skills, a college degree is testimony of your long diligence and work during the college years. Moreover, a degree of higher education is a universally accepted proof of your training.

On the other hand, college degrees don’t necessarily account for very well prepared professionals. Many employers say that individuals holding a degree don’t have the abilities for hands-on tasks. This brings it down to how skillful you really are regardless of having a college degree or a certification.


Hiring parties admit that, in the end, a certification or degree accounts for only 50% of the final decision when making an offer. These kinds of documents will propel you through the recruitment process, but the decision will involve your actual experience and practical skills.

After all, certificates testify for your knowledge, but not necessarily your ability to execute a job. Whereas experience on similar projects and work environments can determine whether you are up for the challenge or not. Nowadays, companies use more and more often peer or group interviews to see how you’d fit into the team. They want to see how you would solve problems, your approach to your work and soft skills that cannot be measured in degrees or certifications.

Finally, you cannot narrow it down to one clear answer because the market varies immensely. Depending on the kind of job you are applying for, the position requirements, the culture of the hiring company and their inside organization, you might need to show some degrees but also some experience. The best path to success is to build a resume that can highlight your accomplishments as well as your dedication and knowledge.