Academic degrees are usually awarded by colleges and universities for a particular subject. These qualifications tend to focus on theoretical knowledge of a particular subject, and are not usually application-focused. For some careers such as medicine, academics and law, academic qualifications are a pre-requisite to practice professionally. Depending on the level, academic certifications are known as Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate (PHD) and courses last a minimum of one year. In essence, academic qualifications are theoretical in nature and are not job-oriented.
Professional certifications on the other hand are career-driven courses that focus on skills and expertise required to be a practicing professional in a specific job. They equip a student to immediately start working in a specialised job, as they stress on practical application rather than theoretical knowledge. They can last from a few months to a few years, and often offer the benefit of part-time study. However, professional qualifications may lack the breadth and theoretical knowledge of academic degrees. The choice of a professional certification or an academic qualification should be based on personal career goals, area of specialization, as well as availability of time, budget, capability and aptitude. When in doubt, consult a professional career counsellor for advice.