Master’s Degree or a Professional Certification? This is a question I have been asked 1001 times and my answer is the same yesterday, today and forever until I see a change in the curriculum of universities.
Your choice should depend on what you are trying to achieve.
My answer is based in what delivers shorter term return on investment and what I know most employers prefer when hiring for a role, which is, value that translates to the job and the organisation.
If your aim is to gain professional expertise that gives you an edge and immediate value to you and an employer, a professional certification is a better option. Specifically, I am referring to internationally recognised professional certifications that have been developed from applied research and accepted internationally as tested bodies of knowledge.
If your plan is to develop academically or you are interested in research in the same field e.g. HR, by all means, get a Master’s degree in HR as it may be a prerequisite for an MPhil or PhD in HR.
If your plan is to emigrate, then obviously, a Master’s degree is the main pathway to getting a student visa. So, the Master’s degree is a means to an end and also gives you the opportunity to change careers to specialisation that gives you economic advantage. Do your research of what’s in demand in the country you want to move to.
If it is your desire to get a higher degree, my personal opinion is that you are better off getting a Master’s degree in something that expands your knowledge base or gets you a job faster, like a Master’s in a completely different but relevant field like Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Marketing, Healthcare. It will give you more rounded, cutting edge exposure and competence required to thrive in today’s world of work.
Do note, a Master’s degree does not replace professional certification. You should still get certified in your profession if you want to specialise regardless of whether you pursue a postgraduate degree or not.
As a professional, even with years of experience, you will need to validate your professional status by allowing yourself to be examined and certified by an independent certification awarding body. It sets you apart in a competitive landscape and communicates that you are investing in a particular career pathway.
Hope this helps🙏.