Is a Certificate a Degree? Certificate vs Degree – what’s the difference.

Is a certificate a degree? have you ever wondered what the difference between a certificate and a degree is? Certificate vs Degree, pinning this two against each other is a tough one. I have never thought of the difference until this moment.

Thus, Deciding to go back to school can be an overwhelming and costly decision. It can be difficult to know which type of program is right for you. Understanding the differences in degree vs certificate will help you make an informed decision about your education.

In order to be qualified for certain positions, employers often look for candidates who have received training in that career field. You can receive this type of training by completing a certificate or degree program.

Whether you choose to earn a certificate or a degree We’re here to help! Read on for differences between certificate and degree programs, the goals they each can help serve, and how long-term career prospects may differ for employers who weigh certificate vs. degree programs when deciding on new hires and promotions.

In this article, The REEDEEP.COM team will explain the difference between the two so you can determine which one will benefit you the most.

What is a certificate?

A certificate is a document stating you have completed a certain amount of training in preparation for a specific job. You can earn a certificate by taking courses at a community college, technical school, or vocational school.

Most certificate programs prepare people for technical or skills-based jobs, such as:

  • Nursing
  • Automotive repair
  • Dental or medical-assisting
  • Web development
  • Construction
  • Plumbing
  • Cosmetology
  • Firefighting
  • Massage therapy
  • Real estate

Earning a certificate can help you get hired in your desired field, advance in your career, or prepare for an associate or bachelor’s degree. You might also earn a certification to supplement your current degree. Some jobs and states may require certification for you to be hired.

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What is a degree?

While a certificate program can prepare you for some short- and long-term jobs, it does not carry a title. A degree program, on the other hand, carries a title and prepares you for a variety of short- and long-term jobs.

Thus, A degree is an academic title you receive after completing several years of education in a certain subject. The four types of degrees include:

  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Master’s degree
  • Doctoral degree

Many jobs require a degree in their specified field to get hired, including:

  • Physical therapist
  • Engineer
  • Airplane pilot
  • Marketing manager
  • A financial advisor or manager
  • Architect
  • Art director
  • Scientist

Having a degree can also qualify you for more advanced or higher-paying positions.

Difference Between Certificate and Degree Programs

While both certificate and degree programs provide a way for you to learn career-specific skills, certificate programs are usually shorter, more focused, and less expensive. A degree program would be a better choice if you want more flexibility and well-rounded education in any field of study. To better understand this difference between certificate and degree, let’s explore more.

#1. Certificate vs Degree in Length -Time commitment

Certificates are a quick and cost-effective way to acquire the skills you need for your career. You can get a certificate within a few months, depending on your field, whereas an associate degree typically takes two years and it typically takes a full four years to earn a Bachelor’s degree.

Master’s degrees take an additional one to two years, and doctoral degrees require at least two years of post-graduate study. Some programs offer summer school and accelerated courses that allow you to graduate a year sooner.

In general, a certificate program will take you less time to complete because you won’t have to meet general education requirements in addition to subject-area requirements.

#2. Certification vs Degree in Uses

If you’re looking to change careers or update skills in your field, the right certificate program will teach you all the skills you need. Certificate programs are typically very narrow in scope, focusing on a specific subject like paralegal skills or business management. While degree programs have the potential to prepare you for a variety of careers, certificate programs are often used by professionals who want to keep their licenses or certifications up to date.

#3. Certificates vs Degrees in Requirements

Almost all degree programs require a high school diploma before enrolling, but some certificate programs do not. These include truck driving, restaurant management, mechanic work, and carpentry.

Secondly, If you are a high school graduate, you can enroll in any certificate program that you are qualified for. But if you want to go to a bachelor’s degree program, you need to apply and be accepted. The admissions office will decide whether to accept your application based on your grades, standardized test scores and extracurricular activities.

More so, In order to be eligible for a graduate degree program, you must first earn a bachelor’s degree and pass a standardized test like the Graduate Record Examination. Certain doctoral programs may require a master’s degree, while others only require a bachelor’s.

#4. Certificate vs Degree in Cost

If you want to save time and money, you should consider a certificate program. Completing a smaller number of courses to earn your certificate means that you’ll need to pay less tuition. Some programs even allow you to transfer some of your credits over into a degree program, which could save you money.

#5. Degree vs Certificate in Coursework

if you are considering Degree vs Certificate in terms of coursework, Degrees generally offer an indepth of knowledge and skills over certificates.

Certificates usually offer students the practical skills for a particular career, such as their radiologic technician certification which teaches the student everything about diagnostic imaging only.

That is to say, that degree programs will offer a student a general education for several key subjects and it will, in turn, require the student to complete a certain number of classes before graduation.

How to choose between a certificate and a degree

When deciding to pursue a certificate or degree program, base your decision on your career goals, the amount of time you have available to complete the program, and cost. hence, here are some questions to answer when considering certificate vs degree – which should you go for?

#1. Determine how quickly you need to earn your credentials

Certificates are a way to get the practical skills you need for a certain job in just a few weeks, without committing to anything long term. A degree is the traditional way to get higher education and can take years of your life.

#2. Think about balancing work and school

A certificate program can be a great way to earn new skills in a short amount of time, without having to quit your job. For instance, if you are currently working as a veterinary assistant but want to get your vet assistant certificate, you can still.

#3. Consider the field you want to work in

For some jobs, a certificate is all that is needed to apply. If you are passionate about styling hair or skilled at fixing HVAC systems, for example, you can get a job faster and with less expense by earning your certificate in those fields

#4. Plan how far you want to advance in your career

Choosing to pursue a certificate or degree might depend on your education and career goals. A degree can often provide you with more opportunities and higher salaries than a certificate.

You might also earn a certificate to give you the foundation and prerequisites needed to get a degree. For instance, you might first complete a computer coding certification program to prepare you for a degree in computer science. 

#5. Consider where you are in your career currently

If you are looking for a fulfilling career, you might be interested in earning a certificate. For instance, if you want to be a chef, you can enter the workforce right away after earning a certificate in culinary arts. On the other hand, If you have work experience and are interested in a management position, you might benefit from a degree, which is a requirement for many upper-level positions.

Diploma vs Degree

Diplomas are an educational certification that is generally more in-depth than a certificate but does not go as broad as a degree. Diplomas are usually more trade-based or technical and can be used to legitimize skills in specific fields.

certificate vs degree


If you are considering a college degree vs. certificate, you need to think about your skill level, current goals and future goals. The degree is more expensive than the certificate, but it will provide you with more years of experience.

You also need to do your homework on what the requirements are for the career you want to pursue and what the future outlook is for the job you want to pursue. 

You’re already on the right track to success by researching what your next step will be so you can make an informed decision. There are plenty of options out there, but only you can decide which is best for your future.