After working at a tech-related job for some time, you definitely know you’ve chosen the right career. You really enjoy your work and are hoping to move up in the company and secure an even better position.
To do this, you’ve decided to enroll in college and start working toward an information technology certificate or degree of some kind.
To help make your time in college as productive as possible — and ensure you’re spending your hard-earned money on the best program for your needs — consider the following tips:
While you may already know what you want to study, you’re not quite done with major decisions. It’s also important to choose the right type of program that will help you achieve your career goals, while taking cost and time into consideration. The two main choices are a certificate or a degree. Essentially, a certificate is a shorter credential that shows you’ve completed a certain amount of coursework to help prepare you for relevant, entry-level roles in that particular field. Thus, if you opt for an IT certificate program, you’ll take classes that focus on this subject.
The other option is to earn a degree. Some common examples include a bachelor’s degree, associate’s degree, or master’s degree. In general, an online IT certificate won’t require as much time or financial commitment compared to a degree. Plus, it’s a great way to add value to your resume as you look to pursue new opportunities within your company or career.
The next big decision to make before enrolling involves whether you want to attend online or in person. To succeed in an online program, you must be highly organized and motivated. You should also look at your current responsibilities and consider if it’s realistic for you to go in person. If you plan on continuing to work full-time at your current IT position, you may find it easier to choose an online program to allow you to complete the program on a more flexible schedule. Additionally, you might not find a brick-and-mortar university in your area that offers the IT program you desire. In these cases, it makes sense to apply for an online college program that you can fit around your schedule and can do from the comfort of home.
Now may be the perfect time to start applying to colleges. After reviewing your current work and personal commitments, consider when it makes sense to start classes. Some colleges run on a semester-based schedule, whereas others have classes starting more frequently.
If finances are holding you back, know that you might be able to secure some type of scholarship to attend school. You can also ask your boss if your company helps to supplement tuition costs. Remember to research tuition costs for your ideal program and come up with a financial plan that fits in with your other obligations, whether that’s setting a savings goal, taking out a loan, or a combination of options.
Attending college is definitely an important milestone in life — one that can help to pave your career in technology. By first deciding if a certificate or degree is best, carefully weighing in-person or online school options, and determining the optimum time to start college, you can be on the path toward pursuing advanced opportunities in your chosen field.