Degrees vs. Certifications: Investing In your Future

Degrees vs. Certifications: Investing In your Future

Like most things in life, getting certified comes at a cost. Yes, there is a financial cost associated with getting certified, as well as the time it takes to study for your certifications. But what about the opportunity cost? What else could you have done with that time, and how does getting certified compare? We’ve already covered some of these differences in a previous blog, but in this one we’ll be focusing on the timeline of return on your investment in education.

In this blog, we’ll be taking a look at the costs and opportunities for certification training as opposed to pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

Part 1: Getting IT Training

First, we’ll take a look at the timeline for these training options.

Bachelor’s Degree

Typically, a bachelor’s degree requires four years of study to complete. In these four years, students will complete 120 semester credits or around 40 college courses.

While this is the longest of any of the four options, it’s also important to mention that a bachelor’s degree program aims to create well-rounded graduates who learn about history, language, math and literature in addition to their chosen area of study. Usually only 30 to 36 credits or 10 to 12 courses will be in a student’s major area of study.

According to collegeboard.org, for the 2017-2018 year, the average cost of tuition for a semester at a public 4-year in-state college or university was $9,410. For four years at that rate, one would expect to pay $37,640 for tuition.

LeaderQuest Training

At LeaderQuest, we recognize that highly employable graduates aren’t created overnight. While each IT certification is a powerful addition to a resume, a single certification is not typically enough to secure employment in the industry. That’s why our Computer User Support Specialist program includes four of the leading IT certifications for entry-level work: CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, and ITIL Foundation.

The Computer User Support Specialist program takes five weeks to complete the courses (or 10 weeks if taken part-time in the evening). Students will need a few more weeks to study the material, take practice exams, and prepare themselves for their certification exams. Most students will need three months to complete all of their courses and get certified.

Our certification courses cost around $3,000 each (varies by course), with the total cost of our Computer User Support Specialist program coming in at $13,875.

Part 2: Getting Hired in IT

Once you have your certifications and training or degree, how hard is it to get hired in IT?

Bachelor’s Degree

With your bachelor’s degree in hand, you’ll find a large number of entry-level positions that you qualify for. Depending on the focus of your studies, you may be able to get a head start in the specific IT field you’re interested in. However, with more and more high school graduates attending college, the value of a college degree has begun to decrease.

While a degree will help you qualify for more jobs, it’s by no means a golden ticket. As you can see from this Quora thread, you’ll still need to look for internships during college, network with other IT professionals and employers, create a great resume and work on your online presence.

If you can’t show potential employers that you have the hard skills they are looking for, a degree may not mean much to them. They’ll want to know that you worked with the systems and hardware that they’re currently using. In fact, many of our graduates have combined a degree with certifications to help them compete in the job market. For more on this, check out the success story of Michael Cost who got an Information Assurance degree but still wasn’t able to find work until he added a Security+ certification to his resume.

LeaderQuest Training

Certifications like CompTIA Security+ are ideal for employers because they provide third party verification of the worker’s skills. For most IT jobs, skills are far more important than college degrees. Employers want to know that you’ll be able to configure a router, rebuild a computer or help secure the company’s systems. Because of this, the four certifications offered in the Computer User Support Specialist program are an ideal gateway to working in the tech world.

80% of our graduates are hired within six months of completing their studies and certifications. This is because our training is an ideal way to meet the increasing employer demand. According to CompTIA research, nearly 4 in 10 U.S. IT firms report having job openings and are actively recruiting candidates for technical positions. For those who wish to continue their education and expand into the cybersecurity market, they’ll have an even easier time getting hired. In fact, The Cybersecurity Jobs Report predicts there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2021.

The final component to our employment rate is one-on-one Career Service support. Each campus has a dedicated Career Services team, ready to help you optimize your resume, polish your LinkedIn profile, and practice your interview skills. When you’re certified and ready, they’ll connect you with local employers that are looking to hire.

Part 3: Where Will You Be Five Years Later?

Bachelor’s Degree

After five years, a bachelor’s degree student would have only been in the working world for about a year, or possibly less given the time needed to secure employment. In an entry-level position like Information Technology Specialist, one could expect an average salary of $48,063. Working for one year in a role like this, the bachelor’s degree recipient would have incurred $37,60 for tuition and would just be able to start to pay that off.

LeaderQuest Training

Assuming three months to complete training and certification, and five months to find a job in the industry, a LeaderQuest graduate would have been working for four years and four months. Considering the average salary of $48,063 for an Information Technology Specialist, the LeaderQuest graduate could have already made as much as $194,398 in the same amount of time that the bachelor’s degree holder was just getting started in the working world! If you factor in the potential for promotions or pay raises, they might even be making more. And they’d be gaining valuable industry experience that can help them get ready for the next move in their career—instead of just starting it.

Timeline Bachelor’s Degree LeaderQuest Training
Year 1 Studying, -$9,410 Training, -$13,875

Working, +16,021

Year 2 Studying, -$9,410 Working, +48,063
Year 3 Studying, -$9,410 Working, +48,063
Year 4 Studying, -$9,410 Working, +48,063
Year 5 Working, +48,063 Working, +48,063
TOTAL Total: +10,423 Total: +194,398

Looking at the table above, the benefits of accelerated training through LeaderQuest are obvious. Get trained, get into the field, and start earning experience and money!

College or LeaderQuest?

You don’t have to choose! The American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT®) has recommended 14 LeaderQuest courses for college credit. ACE CREDIT® recommendation means you could get trained with entry-level certifications, quickly start a job in IT, and still have college credit if you decide to go back to school to specialize. Really, the only thing better than certifications or a degree is certifications and a degree!

LeaderQuest also has an articulation agreement with Colorado State University-Global Campus (CSU-Global) which makes our Computer User Support Specialist program worth about as many credits as a semester of classes. In addition, LeaderQuest students can take advantage of a 10% tuition discount at CSU-Global. This means you can use the training and job relevant skills you learn at LeaderQuest in high demand career areas of information technology, cybersecurity, and project management, and apply it toward your continued education and career advancement with CSU-Global.

Are you ready to get started on an IT career today?

If you are, it might be time to talk to a Career Adviser and schedule a tour of one of our campuses. During the tour, you’ll get a free career consultation with one of our Career Training Consultants to help you determine if IT is a good fit for you, and what field you might like to work towards. They’ll also talk to you about funding, training timelines, employment rates, and anything else that’s on your mind.

Getting into the IT industry doesn’t have to be time consuming. LeaderQuest can make it easy to take the first steps on a new career path.

Ready to Learn More?

Is an Ethical Hacking Course Right for You?

Is an Ethical Hacking Course Right for You?

Battles between corporations, governments, and countries are no longer fought using physical force. The cyber war has begun and the consequences can be seen in everyday life. If you are equipped with problem-solving, solid communication, and IT security skills, you have what it takes for cyber security training.  A certification in Ethical Hacking can train you to look for weaknesses and vulnerabilities in target systems, as well as how to close those doors and protect systems from malicious hackers.

Do you want to learn to think like a bad guy so you can help the good guys?

What are cyber attacks?

There are four main types of cyber attacks:

  1. Organized crime rings, attempting to steal something of value from a company or individual.
  2. Nation-state actors, organizations that are motivated to make a change that sways an issue to their favor.
  3. Hackers or hacktivists, trying to make radical political statements or get attention from political institutions.
  4. Trusted individuals within a company who have access to top secret information and can access the company’s internal communications easily.

All of these are potential attacks happen unannounced. With cyber security training, you’ll be able to protect a company against malicious attacks like these.

What is the ROI on hiring a certified ethical hacker?

With cyber security awareness on the rise, corporations are spending money to proactively hack their internal systems to search for vulnerabilities before a real hacker can penetrate their network.  A breach of security can deplete a company’s resources or steal information that is not public knowledge. These attacks can cause great financial distress. According to the Ponemon Institute, “the average price for small businesses to clean up after their businesses have been hacked stands at $690,000; and, for middle market companies, it’s over $1 million.” In fact, 60% of small companies that suffer a cyber attack are out of business within six months. Because of this, cyber security certifications are in high demand.

A certified ethical hacker is an investment for a company who has assets they don’t want to have exposed. The cost is minimal compared to the loss that could happen if hacked. When a company is looking to hire an ethical hacker, they want to get a qualified candidate as quickly as possible. By looking only at certified candidates, they save themselves time and money. Often, companies are looking for somebody with experience in both information systems and cyber security.

But ethical hacker certification isn’t just lucrative for companies. In 2014, there were 82,900 jobs posted for ethical hackers, almost 3 postings for every qualified applicant. In 2016, the median pay for an ethical hacker was $92,600 annually or $44.52 per hour! Ethical hacking is predicted to be one of the top IT job roles employers are seeking to fill in 2017. And this industry isn’t going away anytime soon. Employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 18 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Who is right for CEH certification?

One of our popular Cyber Security training programs, the Information Security Analyst program, is well matched for Network Analysts, Network Technicians, Network Administrators, System Administrators, System Security Engineers, Firewall Administrators, Network Security Engineers, IT Managers, IT Professionals, Security Specialists, and similar job roles that can meet the prerequisites.

Learn About the Information Security Analyst Program

CEH certification can aid your success in career paths such as Cyber Security Specialist, Information Security Auditor, Site Security Administrator, and others. The most common workplaces are computer companies, consulting firms, or business and financial companies. CEH is the best cyber security certification available when it comes to preparing workers for real threats they’ll face in the field. If you think you have what it takes, contact us.

What is our ethical hacking course like?

We offer one of the most effective cyber security certification programs available. For fifteen days you will be immersed in an interactive environment that combines expert instructor-led lectures, interactive peer discussions, and integrated lab experiences. You’ll have to assess live threats and stop them with your new skills.

We have a three pillar approach to cyber network defense:

  1. Prevention
  2. Reaction
  3. Retrospection

You’ll learn basic cybersecurity principles, then you will expand your knowledge even deeper with perimeter defense, hacking, forensics, and intrusion prevention.

Are you ready to become a certified ethical hacker?

Cyber security training puts you in the running for one of the top jobs of 2017. A CEH certification takes about three weeks of training, during which you’ll get in-depth knowledge on how to scan, test, hack, and secure computer systems while increasing your salary potential. In our ethical hacking course, you’ll learn proactive white hat hacking techniques to outsmart the black hats. A career in cyber security allows you to think like a criminal but protect like a guardian. So what are you waiting for?

Start Training Today!


Are You Sabotaging Your Cyber Security Career Without Knowing It?

Are You Sabotaging Your Cyber Security Career Without Knowing It?

With the demand for cyber security professionals growing 3.5 times faster than all other IT-based jobs, 12 times faster than the job market as a whole, and anywhere between 20,000 to 40,000 open positions at any given moment, it hardly seems possible that you could screw yourself over by getting into this career path.

And, in fact, if you’re good at what you do in cyber security, you’ll probably never have to worry about unemployment.

Or salary. Companies pay good money for decent cyber security.

For example, an average salary is around $116,000, which is nearly three times the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But this is a career path where what you don’t know CAN hurt you.

Knowing network and system administration seems like a pretty obvious first step and could probably land you a decent entry-level job or internship.

But to keep moving forward, and to not stagnate and regress, you’ll need to stay on top of your game so your cyber security career doesn’t get sabotaged by your laziness.

Don’t Sabotage Your IT Career: Study Up

A decade ago, the word “cyber” was sci-fi and futuristic.

Today, our day-to-day lives are impossible without it, and things that were cutting edge and relevant a few years ago are getting outdated incredibly fast.

To do a good job in your cyber security career and to keep it moving forward, you need to know business principles, the ins and outs of the industry you serve, user expectations, and the latest defense options.

Business & Management Basics

At the end of the day, no matter what field you’re in or how smart you are in stopping attacks, what you do for the bottom line of the company you work for is what’s going to matter the most in your salary increases and promotions.

Knowing how to quantify what you’re contributing to the bottom line (either money gained or money not lost) will give you some real bargaining power when you sit down to have discussions on your annual performance reviews with your boss.

The Field You Serve

Just like knowing business principles to understand and quantify what you’re contributing to the company’s bottom line, knowing the ins and outs of the industry you serve and how it’s evolving will give you the insights you need to come up with truly intelligent and innovative ways to keep your company’s information secure.

For example, if you work for a financial company that handles retirement investments, you may not fully realize how knowing the federal laws regarding different types of retirement investment accounts would have to do with penetration testing, but knowing the bigger picture is always a plus.

Malware & Virus Scans

According to ConnectWise, there’s more than 100,000 new malware samples every day, which comes out to about one per second.

Attacks are serious, and the attackers after guarded information are even more so.

Staying up-to-date on the latest techniques hackers are using with malware, Trojans, phishing scams, PoS attacks, spam, viruses and so on can help you ward off attacks beyond the ones your company’s anti-virus software can prevent on its own.

Detecting Inside Jobs Before They Happen

External threats are serious, but the real danger of an information breach actually comes from within your company’s walls.

In fact, 78% of your peers working in IT security have reported working in a company where there were either negligent or malicious employees who either put the company’s information at risk by not following procedures or who actively tried to mine it and use it for themselves.

Knowing how to track down and detect inside jobs after they’ve already happened is one thing, but knowing how to alert yourself to suspicious behavior is another.

User Experience Expectations

Whether you like it or not, user experience is constantly being set by others, even if they’ve got absolutely nothing to do with the industry you work in.

For example, the average consumer’s expectations for information security are set by all the apps they use.

If they use a truly cutting-edge app for banking or payments, and you work in a software company for social networking, the user still expects to feel just as secure sharing their information on your app as they do on their bank’s app.

It may not be fair, but it’s not going to change.

So don’t waste your time getting along with work and technology that are ‘good enough’… because it’s going to come back to bite your career in the bum sooner than later.

IT Demand + Education = The Perfect Opportunity for Cyber Security Professionals

“Experts in cybersecurity are among the most sought-after professionals in the tech sector,” said Linda Musthaler on NetworkWorld.com, “with demand for workers in that field outpacing other IT jobs by a wide margin.”

The different ways of potentially sabotaging your cyber security IT career aren’t meant to scare you away from the profession because of all the constant learning you’ll have to do… quite the opposite.

We want you to succeed in the field, and really, so does the rest of the world—they’re dying to hire and pay high salaries to cybersecurity professionals who know their stuff.

We offer a Cyber Security Specialist Training and Certification program that runs for 5 days, for half a day each. At the end of it, you’ll be prepared to hit the job market with a cool CCNA certificate from Cisco to get your cyber security career moving on the up and up in the right direction. Are you ready to start moving forward?