The Two-Year Degree: A Happy Medium?

In today’s economic climate, it’s not just about finding work; it’s about being the right person for the job. But with time and money at a premium, those preparing to enter the workforce need to do that in the fastest, most cost-effective way.

For many, a traditional four-year degree program may not be practical. However, skipping formal education and pursuing IT certifications a la carte is also less than desirable, since most corporations today are looking for well-rounded candidates with the kind of soft skills and business knowledge that gaining a college degree imparts.

For this reason, aspiring IT professionals may want to consider certification via two-year degree programs at local community colleges, said Ernest Friend, director of academic systems and manager of the computer networking, manufacturing and biomedicine programs for Florida State College at Jacksonville.

“Having a certification will help you get the job — but having the foundational skills will help you keep it,” Friend said. “They need to work in tandem.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupation with the highest projected growth between now and 2016 is data networking and communications. There’s plenty of opportunity out there; candidates just need to position themselves properly.

“Even in this economic downturn, there are many jobs that go unfilled because employers can’t find the right skills in the marketplace,” said Fred Weiller, director of marketing for Learning@Cisco. “A couple of years ago, we did research with Forrester Consulting. What came up strongly from hiring…



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