This debate dates way back and is equivalent to asking whether the chicken or the egg came first. The IT industry is one where a person can make a living because of their general interest and not on a qualification. That, however, is rarely the case. In the real world employers want to see some sort “proof of ability”
Some argue that certifications are the way to go with the IT industry being so dynamic now more than ever. That may be a vulnerability because with each new release you would have to get a new certification. But with that certification comes the confidence that you are able to do your work with specialised intricate knowledge. The certification might get you in at a lower level post but will give you a solid grounding in the real world and the ability to climb the ladder. Degrees can become dated. Certifications have to be renewed as technology evolves
Going the certification route means you can select a specialised direction of items that you would like to study whereas the degree syllabus is pre-set. The issue with being too specialised is that you’re unable to broaden your work span without having to further educate yourself. I suppose that’s the area that a degree has an advantage, flexibility. That also doesn’t guarantee any certainty because a high percentage of students end up working in a field that they did not study.
The field of work you chose and how you want to market yourself may need to have both a qualification and a certification. Exploration has found that the social influence in a country is important in dictating the attitude of employers over degrees verses certifications because of perception.
I, personally having been a university student had many college friends and used to envy the amount of experience and hands on tasks they would get. We had the same ideas in our heads with the difference being them actually being able to do the task at hand. It is important to remember that when you get a job, the piece of paper with your qualification will not be doing your work for you. All knowledge with no experience is a risk.
Research is imperative in deciding where to work, or which field to go into. Many students blindly jump into studies without actually knowing what they’re getting into. I was one of those and was lucky enough that it was my perfect match.
Coding, for example, is something you can even teach yourself if you have enough patience and interest. These days many platforms makes the tools available for use and The issue with that would then not following standard procedures like commenting, performing unit testing, etc.
Your qualification, certification or self-learning shouldn’t be the basis of how you market yourself to potential employers. These are important and help with getting your foot in the door but once you are hired, your performance does the talking for you. You need to be able to do what your employer requires of you.
Regardless of what form of education you chose, you should always be confident in what you can do and also be humble enough to continue learning. Any career is a growing and continuing process. Be ready to accept constructive criticism. Reach out for advice from your superiors.
With any form of education, learning only comes through doing. IT is an elastic trade and your choice of education can fit your interests. Many organisations have their own unique ways of working. There is no generic fit for what you think you know. Learning is a continuous process and it is never enough. Never forgetting that the ultimate advantage is experience, nothing beats that.