High school diploma vs. certifications vs. degrees

virginia g3 degree vs certification

Are you spinning your wheels trying to figure out how to secure a better job and future for you and your family?  Don’t worry, we are making your decision easier with a list of pros and cons to help you answer the question, “What level of education do I need?” Take a look at our list and compare and decide on the right path for you. Whether time, salary, debt or job prospects are your biggest consideration factors, this post has you covered.

Jobs with a high school diploma or GED

There are a lot of jobs out there right now that ask for a high school diploma or GED level of education – and some jobs don’t have an educational requirement, like entry retail positions. But if you’re looking for sustainable living wages, you may want to consider some level of advanced education.

Pros: No student loan debt; fewer hoops to jump through to get a job

Cons: Limited job opportunities; many minimum wage positions; fewer advancement opportunities; gig work

Jobs with certification and credentials

In Virginia, 50% of jobs require more than a high school level of education but less than an associate degree. But what is this middle ground called? There are things called workforce or career certifications and credentials. An example of that is a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or passing an exam to make you a certified clinical medical assistant.

Pros: Short amount of time to complete (6-12 weeks in many cases); less expensive; certifications can often build on each other – for example, Level 1, Level 2; higher salaries and more benefits than positions with just a high school diploma

Cons: Jobs may still prefer degrees; some jobs may still be lower wage positions

Jobs with an associate degree

As your education increases, so do your career options. Some companies and organizations keep this as the base requirement for a hiring position to ensure a level of “soft skills” are met, but most are l looking for the increased knowledge in a given field.

Pros: More pay compared to positions with no degree; basic job entry requirement for many positions

Cons: May need more training with a certificate or bachelor’s degree to specialize or advance; takes 18 months to two years to complete; some student loan debt

Jobs with a bachelor’s degree and beyond

Not all advanced career positions will require advanced degrees, but many do. As you eye manager, director and more senior positions, you’ll likely need the education to match. But for most open jobs in Virginia, a bachelor’s or master’s degree may not be required to get your foot in the door and work your way up.

Pros: More salary and benefit options; access to more job opportunities

Cons: More student loan debt; generally takes four years to complete

Enrolling in a G3 program leads students to earn both workplace certifications and an associate degree. To learn more about G3 funding and what options are available where you live, visit Learn how to Qualify and Programs for more information.