College can be both challenging and exciting. For college graduates transitioning into the corporate workplace, the challenges and excitement can turn into outright stress and anxiety. For those considering a career in the technology industry, this article will help with the daunting choice of whether to select a traditional degree program or one of the many certification options available.

Designing a successful career path is a challenge. No matter the industry, the degree to which people know their field directly reflects their abilities to succeed. Therefore, it is critical to understand exactly what fits with your skills, attributes, work and learning style. A traditional college degree program is an outstanding option for a well-rounded education. However, a certification program demonstrates a competency specifically in one’s chosen industry, so if your desire is to demonstrate a commitment to a specific focus (i.e., networks, desktop, security, etc), then certification programs may be the right fit for you.

Research shows that college does not adequately prepare students for an effective transition from student to professional. College prepares individuals for certain aspects of the corporate workplace, but there remains a tremendous amount of learning that is not being taught in our colleges today. So if you decide to go the traditional college educational route, there are still aspects of your education that will need to be supplemented.

In the IT industry, there are many options for higher education. Traditional college programs have expanded more to offer combined degree/certification programs that focus directly on your desired branch of IT. Microsoft offers a wide variety of certification programs for PC, desktop, and operating system careers (MCSE, MCSA, MCSD, etc). Cisco offers a variety of certification programs for careers in Wide and Local Area networking (CCNA, CCNE, CCNP, etc). There are also Microsoft certification programs for interest of desktop security careers (CEH, ECSA, CISSP, etc). If there is interest in the voice and telecommunications field of study, both Nortel and Cisco have outstanding certification programs.

There are other IT areas of interest which include storage management, application design, e- commerce, web design, and programming just to name a few. But whatever your area of interest, there is an educational program to suit your individual needs. Talk to your counselor, work with a technology career consultant, or conduct research on your own. The important point to keep in mind is that it is critical to select the right education plan for your specific needs.

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