Commercial Qualifications Vs Degrees In IT

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Commercial Qualifications Vs Academic Degrees In IT

For many years, the university degree has been looked up to as the status qualification we should all aspire to. We've probably all experienced some degree holders who look down on lesser mortals, and some rivalry between fellow graduates on their grades, whether it had honours, and which establishment it was from.

Many investment companies wouldn't even consider an applicant without a first or a two one. In certain market sectors this is still the case, but in others, academic qualifications are now too ethereal.

In the world of IT, the vast diversity of skill sets and rate of development is such that a degree in Information Technology is just not a skill that can immediately be put to work. It's like asking someone with a degree in transport infrastructures to drive a bendy bus across London.

Specialisation is the required level of training for this industry. A glance in the job ads will demonstrate the strings of letters asked for - MCSE, MCSA, A+, Network+, MCTIP, PHP, SQL, CCNA, C#, VB.Net, and JAVA to name a few. Everyone is crying out for specific skills, which is why commercial qualifications came about in the first place. Employers are uncertain what somebody who has a degree in computing or information technology actually knows. A degree syllabus can vary so much; it really isn't a measure of knowledge, more a set of mental obstacles the individual has proven their intellect against.

So who is an IT degree for? It's certainly not for the benefit of future employers. Maybe it's for the University? But is it of benefit to the student?

Well the answer is yes, if you're talking about the college experience - three or four years away from home without the stress and grind of a job. Cheap drink, parties, new friends, lovers, and long, long holidays.

However, let's step back and look at this in more detail. Parents can spend thousands supporting students, which they won't see back. The graduate leaves with a debt of at least £15,000 to £30,000, after committing three to four years of their lives. At that point, if they can get a job it will be starting at around £15,000 and they will most likely have to do further study to pick up some more specialist knowledge. Looked at that way, the answer is no.

If the student had opted for commercial training, they would have employable skills within nine months, and start work at around £18,000 pa. They could continue to study alongside their job for maybe 15 months. In their second year they would be worth around £25,000 and in their third year around £30,000. Year four should take them to around the £35,000 per annum mark.

So three years in, and the graduate owes £15,000 to £30,000, and can command a salary of around £15,000 pa. The commercially qualified student has already earned around £73,000, and can earn £35,000 pa. That's makes the commercially qualified student £100,000 better off by the end of year four, and very likely to be someone the university student will be working for...

You decide.

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