College degrees are excellent credentials for any professional person to have today.  Generally, as formal educational credentials increase, salary increases and unemployment decreases.  These are significant advantages to earning that sheepskin.

On the other hand, college is not for everyone in every situation.  You must give careful thought to the time, expense, and strategy involved in pursuing a degree.  We all know of too many folks who rambled into an academic program without any real results to show for it.  For whatever reason(s), they were not in the zone.

Well, how about something sort of in between those two options?  Increasing numbers of companies are recognizing the value of highly specific, short-term, concentrated training vehicles.  For example, IT certifications are becoming a highly desirable credential.  The student is not looking at years of academic work nor sky-high tuition either.  A good example of this comes to us from training institutions such as Centriq.  One of its specialized training schools is called TechSmart KC.  Alyson Raletz describes the benefits of this powerful, short-term training program for people wanting to break into the professional IT field (“Transforming Training,” Kansas City Business Journal, 5/10/13–5/16/13, p. 23):

The four-month sequence initially aimed at loading up the technology-uninitiated with skills and certifications needed to land help-desk and other entry-level IT jobs in Kansas City. . . . TechSmart students are more likely to be in their mid-20s and already have worked with computers for most of their lives.  A lot of them are trying to avoid the time and money associated with traditional colleges and are attracted to an abbreviated track with a 90 percent job placement rate.  The stigma of alternative education is lifting as employers of all industries compete aggressively for personnel in an IT job market that has more jobs than local skilled workers can fill.

One size never does fit all.  When it comes to your higher education and career planning, do not ignore these specialized programs.  Depending on your goals, they might be exactly what you need.

About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Johnson Controls at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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