Difference Between Certificates & Degrees

Certificate, diploma, and degree are tools that people make use of to further their academic and professional careers. There are some professions in which a degree from a college will not take you far or where degrees hold no significance. Instead, completion of a certificate program makes a person better and more competent in that trade. The same, however, is not true for all course or fields of study, and there are professions in which a formal degree is a must to be recognized an entity. There are many more differences between degree and certificate that will be highlighted in this article.

Key Takeaways

  • Certificate courses are vocational in nature and shorter in duration than a degree course.
  • Degree courses are more formal than certificate courses.
  • Certifications are more important in certain professions like air conditioning, plumbing, welding, painting, etc., while degrees are more important to move ahead in certain careers like literature, humanities, science, medical, management, etc.


A certificate course is proof that a person has completed a short proficiency course that is training-based or practical in nature. The person is called a certificate holder and is considered to be good enough to be eligible to join the profession related to the certificate course at a particular level.

There are professions in which certificate courses are valued highly. Air conditioning expert (HVAC to be more specific), plumber, electrician, carpenter, painter, car mechanic, gas welder, machine operator, etc. are some professions where certificate courses from reputed institutes mean a lot more than a formal 4-year baccalaureate degree. A beautician, for example, does not need to have a formal degree. He or she rather needs to have expertise and knowledge to be able to try new techniques in the field of beauty and skin. Suppose a beautician has been working and good enough to retain and add to her client base. Suddenly a new coloring technique comes in and becomes very popular. The beautician needs to complete a course certifying she has the necessary proficiency to try the technique on her customers. Certificate courses become a great tool for people to add to their skills and to learn new techniques to be able to earn more.

Certificate courses are conducted by schools, colleges, and institutes, to provide training to people to become more proficient and experts in their chosen field of work.


A degree is a culmination of formal study in a subject and consists of 4 years of formal classroom lectures and practical training. After 10+2, a student has to undergo college study to get a bachelor’s degree in his chosen field of study to be eligible for jobs in the industry. To get decent entry-level jobs in the industry, a candidate is expected to have at least a bachelor’s level degree.

However, a bachelor’s degree means a person has had to study things outside his chosen field of study and has received general knowledge in his subject. To be considered an expert, a master’s level degree is essential in the chosen field of study.

In some cases, while it may be necessary to have a degree in a particular field or profession, one needs to undergo certificate courses frequently to keep upgrading and honing his knowledge base.

Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen is a talented writer with a flair for developing captivating content in a range of formats. Her commitment to thorough research and producing top-notch material has contributed to over 4 years of professional writing and editing experience. Outside of work, Maria finds pleasure in solitary activities and immersing herself in nature. Her introspective nature and passion for self-reflection inspire her creativity. She believes that spending time alone and observing the natural world can provide valuable insights and foster personal growth, broadening her perspective as a writer.


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