Re: Certification

Subject: Re: Certification
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 5 Jan 1996 08:13:36 PST

Alexandria Khalil writes:

>I don't think you need to change your career because of a certification
>requirement that you need a college degree. I think if that if a college
>degree were needed for any certification, you should go out and get the
>degree. Sometimes there is just no way around that type of requirement.
>Further, in terms of marketability, what harm would getting a degree cause?

This is exactly the sort of attitude that makes me a foe of certification:
"Let them eat cake."

Let's do some math: Suppose you quit a $40,000 per year job in order
to get a degree, and that tuition, fees, and so on are $10,000 a year.
That's $50,000 in lost income and direct expenses. If you can finish
up the degree in two years (due to having some credit from previous
existence), you can buy a certificate for only $100,000. If it takes
four years, it'll cost you $200,000.

If you assume an average interest rate of 8%, how much of a salary
increase does it take to make it worthwhile to spend $100,000 on
a certificate, given a 20-year career? (Using my handy tables from
my Engineering Economy textbook.)

Answer: $10,190 more per year ($50,190 total salary) if you spend two years
in college, or $20,380 more per year ($60,190 total salary) if you spend
four years.

Now, suppose you're an 18-year-old, and your marketable skills, at
minimum wage, are worth $9672/year (assuming you can find a full-time
job with sick and vacation time), your costs for a four-year education
are $40,000, plus 38,688 in lost income, for a total of $78768.
You also have a longer career ahead of you -- let's call it 35 years.

Under these circumstances, college will pay for itself if it allows you
to land a position that starts increases their income by $6758 -- to
a total income of a mere $16,430/year!

The $121,232 difference between the two four-year college scenarios
is nothing to sneeze at. The lower likelihood of payback (there are
more jobs paying $16,000 than $60,000) is very real.

So it's not like simply going to college and picking up the certificate
is an easy thing, or that it's certain to pay off (or, for that matter,
that it isn't largely a waste of time. It's one thing to take slow-
paced, badly prepared, largely irrelevant classes when you're 19. It's
quite another to take time off from a professional career to suffer
through the same non-education.)

The smart money is probably on gaining relatively inexpensive credentials
(if I pay five years' dues to the STC in advance, do I become a "Senior
Member" on the spot?) doing non-credentialed career-advancing activities
(such as taking time-management, budgeting, team-leadership, and management
classes even if you don't plan on entering management), and finding a
good headhunter to find you higher-paying jobs that are at least as
pleasant as your current one.

-- Robert

Robert Plamondon * President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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