Google is out to disrupt higher education, at least in four specific fields: If you’re interested in becoming a UX designer, data analyst, project manager, or IT support professional, you may not need a college degree. The tech giant has added three new jobs to its Google Career Certificates program (its IT support certification was created in 2018), at a fraction of the cost and time of an undergraduate degree.

According to Google, the online courses are designed to give students everything they need to get hired in their chosen fields over the course of a six-month period, all for $49 per month, or around $300 total. As if that weren’t affordable enough, Google will be handing out 100,000 scholarships for those who don’t have the funds for the program.

Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president of global affairs, said in a tweet that a certificate would replace a traditional degree for Google’s own hiring managers. Google has even managed to get 50 other companies to adopt the same policy, including Intel, Hulu, Walmart, PNC, H&R Block, and Bank of America. Outside hiring managers and career experts, however, agree that higher education will still be an essential part of the hiring process, but that Google certificates can be a stepping stone to a great job.

Getting hired with a Google certificate

Career expert and resume writer Wendi Weiner says that certificates like the ones at Google can be a lucrative substitute for those who already have their bachelor’s degree. If getting a master’s is too expensive or takes too long, a certificate could be a substitute. “These certificate programs show a commitment to additional training, increasing knowledge, and refining skills,” Weiner told Thinknum.

Weiner added that the bottom line for any hiring manager is meeting the needs of the job listing. A Google certificate “could potentially be something that hiring managers are willing to consider — keep in mind, however, that job postings will often state 10-plus years of experience or an advanced degree.”

While a Google certificate can look great on a resume, it doesn’t automatically guarantee a job offer, says Dandan Zhu, headhunter and CEO of Dandan Global, a career coaching business. “Don’t rely on your credentials to carry you,” Zhu told Thinknum. “Everybody can have those same credentials, so don’t ever think about it as a selling point. It’s not. It’s a point that you can leverage, but it’s not a selling point.”

“It’s at least a foot in the door,” Zhu added. “It isn’t equivalent to four years in college, but it means that this person has really sharp, immediately applicable skills.”

Google isn’t the first company to throw the four-year degree requirement out the window. Apple, IBM, Penguin Random House, Bank of America, and Hilton are just a handful that don’t require applicants to be college graduates. While Google’s certificates won’t put universities out of business just yet, they’re the latest disruptors in higher education.

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