Ask LH: IT Diploma Or Entry-Level Position?

Dear Lifehacker, I am looking for some career advice. I am currently studying a Certificate III in IT Networking and Digital Media. Without talking myself up too much I am doing well and really enjoying it. It is only a six-month course and is about to finish. I would like to do the diploma course which is a further 12 months.

My concern is that while I can afford to pay for the course, I probably can’t afford not to work full time for another year. I know the earning potential for the diploma is immediately higher. Should I just get out there, land a help desk job (sigh) and hope for career growth with a good company, or leapfrog some of my competitors with the diploma? Thanks, Career Planner

Dear CP,

Our advice is to do the training now. When you consider the current government’s outlook towards tertiary education fees, the cost of diplomas is only going to increase in years to come. If it’s something you plan to do eventually, delaying your studies holds very few advantages.

Busting your hump at the bottom of the IT chain doesn’t necessarily guarantee career advancement either. You could suddenly get laid off, your colleagues could be favoured for promotion or your manager might be a complete dick.

By contrast, a diploma provides an immediate financial payoff that can’t be taken away from you (provided you actually put the work in, of course.)

Most senior IT positions also require specific certifications before you’ll even get a look in – so you might as well start earning them now. To get an idea of what you could be making with certain qualifications, check out our IT Pro Salaries post. Good luck!


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