Certificate, Professional Certification or Degree: What’s Your Best Option?

Certificate, Professional Certification or Degree: What’s Your Best Option?

As the age-old cliché goes, knowledge is power.

Staying current on what’s trending in your industry and gaining new knowledge that will increase your contribution to a firm, as well as offer you greater opportunities for both personal and professional growth are of utmost importance.

There are plenty of educational programmes, such as certificates, professional certifications and academic degrees, on a wide array of subjects that are available to the modern-day professional. Some have a short duration, while others might take several years to complete, with many options being easily affordable, while others may require a greater investment.

In fact, choosing one over the other is not always a simple exercise since the objectives and overall benefits of each may vary greatly.

With this in mind, how do you pick which type of educational programme is best for you?

Below we offer you some of the main advantages and disadvantages of each option, hoping to provide a good roadmap on which to choose the educational programme that is the ideal fit for your professional and personal ambitions.



Generally speaking, degrees aim to develop a person at an intellectual level and cover the general knowledge required to build a career in a specific field.  A bachelor’s degree can offer the stepping stones for achieving a broad education, whilst a master’s degree can allow for specialization.


  • Serve as the backbone to your future career as they are generally required as a starting point by employers
  • Offer you a comprehensive, well-rounded education, developing your critical thinking and analytical skills, yet can also be highly specialized
  • Can be flexible enough to allow you to explore different career paths once completed
  • Reward you with a higher income, especially if you collect graduate degrees
  • Can potentially be pursued on a full-time, part-time basis or online, while being employed



  • Takes a long time to complete, generally three-to-four years at an undergraduate level, one-to-three years for a master’s degree, and three-to-seven years for a PhD, depending on the academic institution and discipline
  • Can be very expensive, contingent on the university of your choice
  • If your subject of study is very specific, it could potentially limit your career options once finished
  • Might require a taxing and highly competitive admissions process
  • Delay your entry into the job market


Professional Certifications

Professional Certifications offer specialized knowledge, enhance existing knowhow and further develop both the technical and personal competencies that the professional should have for his field.

Furthermore, a professional certification comes in handy when you would like to verify or validate your knowledge and skills, and sometimes your employer or your specific industry might require it.


  • Assess and enhance your knowledge and set of skills
  • Denote competency in a specific set of skills or knowledge as measured against a pre-determined, industry-wide set of standards
  • Allow you to comply with your industry’s specific requirements or regulations and practice in your line of business
  • Reward you with a higher income, better job prospects and a competitive advantage over your peers
  • Position you to mentor other individuals in your specialty of choice



  • Might be limiting considering its high degree of specialization
  • Does not provide an all-rounded education
  • Require updating via a re-certification process, which can be burdensome
  • Can sometimes be costly and time consuming
  • Needs to be backed by with relevant job experience to be truly effective



Certificates have as their main objective to offer individuals with education and training that will help them develop their knowledge base and improve their skills in, either, a specific area or a combination of areas.  Overall, certificates are ideal if your main goal is to gain new knowledge at a cursory level or fine tune existing skills.


  • Do not necessarily require any previous work experience or knowledge of the topic of choice
  • Offer a quick and easy way to introduce you to new knowledge and acquire a unique skill
  • Are often less time consuming and more affordable than other educational programmes
  • Might allow you to enter the job market or change industries more quickly than if you pursue a degree or certification
  • May provide the foundation for eventually pursuing a degree in the topic of choice or a professional certification



  • Might not be as in-depth as some of the other choices available
  • May not provide you with a well-rounded education, unless you attend a programme that combines an array of topics
  • Could limit your ability to really stand out in the job market, making it difficult to branch out without gaining additional experience or certifications
  • Knowledge or skills solely acquired via a certificate might need to be accompanied or updated by pursuing further certificates, certifications or degrees in the future
  • Are not as “recognized” as degrees or professional certifications


Are there any additional advantages or disadvantages to any of these options that we’ve forgotten to mention?  If so, make sure to share them with us!

EIMF offers a variety of certificates and professional certifications that accommodate a wide range of needs. For additional details, please view our calendar of scheduled educational programmes found here, or speak with an expert learning and development adviser at EIMF at +357-22274470 or info@eimf.eu.