Google announced back in July of 2020 that they were launching new Google career certificates, which expands on their current offering by including training for Project Managers, Data Analyst, and UX designer.
The proposition they’re making to you is that going through their 6-month certification program can serve as a replacement to a traditional degree (at least as it relates to how Google hires) and will help you land a job.
In this article, I’ll discuss exactly what Google is offering and whether it is actually a suitable replacement for a 4-year degree. Read on!
What are These Google Certificates All About?
If you’ve been around my YouTube channel or website, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of education – specifically of the online variety because of the flexibility and cost effectiveness.
So I was pleased to learn that Google is offering some new certifications – previously they just offered one for IT Support Specialist, but they’re expanding now to Project Manager, Data Analyst, and UX Designer.
This is all done online through the Coursera platform and completely self paced, although it is expected that participants will take about 6-months.
At a price point of $39/mo, you’re looking at just around $240 for one of the certification, or less if you can complete it in fewer months.
And I don’t have to tell you this, but, it’s a fraction of the cost of a university degree.
The obvious question here is will it be valued by employers as much as a degree?
Well at minimum, Google themselves state that they view anyone who goes through these certification programs, the same as someone with a 4-year degree. So if you’re looking for a job at Google in exactly those roles, you might have a decent shot.
That said, because of the low cost of these certificates, and the relatively little amount of time it takes to complete, there are not really any barriers, which is a good in one way, but a negative because just about ANYONE can get these certificates and you’re going to be competing with a lot more people for a job at Google, if that’s the route you want to pursue.
Apart from Google, if the IT Support Specialist certification is any proxy, they state that “80% of learners in [their] Google IT Support Professional Certificate program in the U.S. report a career impact within 6 months, such as finding a new job, getting a raise, or starting a new business.”
Not a ton of detail on that, but for $240? We’ll take it!
Can it REALLY Replace a 4-Year Degree?
Now for these new Google career certificates, what will other employers think of it?
As a replacement for a 4-year degree, it sort of depends what you would’ve gotten a 4-year degree in as some degrees, without question, yield better return on investments than others.
Here’s what I’d say, with a good degree of confidence, which is these certifications will be GREAT complements to a valuable related degree, but it will not replace a degree. At least not yet.
With degrees from reputable universities, you typically have commonly established criteria for what makes a university reputable in the first place, and part of the reputation stems from strength of faculty, learning outcomes, and career outcomes.
With Google certificates, and many other certificates of this kind, you don’t have that yet.
I’ll make a distinction though – I’d classify IT Support Specialist, their current available certificate, as a different case since it’s a fairly specific skillset, and for you to land a role in IT support, this would likely be enough and a 4-year degree probably isn’t as necessary.
But for topics that are more broad like project manager, data analyst, and UX designer, the ONLY way this could replace a degree is if at the end of the certification program, you have a portfolio of work you can actually show to prospective employers.
Whether the program has you create something, or you create something on your own, an employer needs to see what you’re able to do because quite frankly, a certificate without the established credibility of what a degree brings, isn’t going to be enough on its own, even if it does come from Google.
So for data analyst and UX designer, those two certainly have potential for there to be projects in which you build a portfolio, but I don’t quite see it for project management, so if I had to say between the three, the project management certification is going to be the least likely to help you land a job.
How To Think Realistically About These Certificates
All that said, your ability to land a job or career in these fields will depend on your ability to network and showcase what you can bring to an organization.
A degree can help get your foot in the door, which is a very important step, whereas a certificate alone will have a lower chance of doing that, BUT combined with a degree, it WILL help you stand out amongst other candidates, ESPECIALLY if you have a portfolio of work you can visibly show.
Folks let me know in the comments below what you think of the Google Career Certificates and whether its something you might consider pursuing in the future.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you around!
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