Professional Credentials For Computer Science Careers
Written by Sue Gee   
Monday, 04 May 2020
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Professional Credentials For Computer Science Careers
Certificates Matter

Software Development is a career where you can thrive without professional certificates. On the other hand it can be personally fulfilling as well as financially advantageous. If you have extra time on your hands due to the Covid-19 lockdown, it could be just the time to embark on a training course.

Disclosure: When you make a purchase having followed a link to a course provider from this article, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Credentials such as Nanodegrees and Professional Certificates  becoming widely recognized by employers and recruiters and so are a worthwhile investment of time and effort if you are looking to find a great job as a developer .There are plenty of options on offer and over the years we have presented details of many of them. In this article we'll look at the professional certifications awarded by Udacity, edX and Coursera - the companies we used to think of as "MOOC providers" in the days when we took advantage of a slew of high quality courses, both in terms of the instructors and the enthusiasm of the participants, that were massive, online and free.

The take up of MOOCs from these fledgling organizations was huge - but there was also a high drop out rate. This shouldn't have been taken as some sort of failure on the part of the instructors. A lot of it could be explained by greedy students tasting all the options on offer and finding themselves either over-committed or our of their depth. Most of the drop out came right at the start and, as I pointed out back in 2014, this seemed perfectly reasonable: 

As consumers the fact that as the courses are free there is little penalty for dropping out. We can enrol, take a look at what is on offer and walk away if it we decide not to stay the course.

There will be many reasons for dropping a MOOC - too easy, too difficult, too time-consuming or just because it's a mismatch with our requirements ... and given that an alternative might come along in a few months why not wait for something better. 

The move to charging for online courses was gradual and was sold to consumers by offering us more than just the course content - and indeed there is still plenty of free course content on offer if you don't want the full course experience and a certificate at the end of it, see Top Free Online Computer Science Courses for free courses. Click the links on the course titles for our reports and the links on the MOOC providers to go direct to the course.

This article, however, is about the type of Professional credential that are on offer from Udacity, edX and Coursera that are career-oriented. This distinguishes them from the more academic -oriented options covered in a previous article Gain A Computer Science Credential In 2020, when looked at programs leading to a Bachelor's or a Master's Degree.

As in that article, however, we're not confining ourselves to "just" computer science - data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics cloud computing and IoT (Internet of Things) are among the topics we have to choose between.



What's a Udacity Nanodegree?

Nanodegree is a term coined by Udacity and applied to programs in which you "learn by doing". While there are courses taught by instructors, the emphasis is on hands-on projects and as you progress through a nanodegree program you build a portfolio of projects. 

First launched in 2014 with programs for gaining the skills required for a career as a Front-End Web Developer, Back-End Web Developers, and Mobile iOS Developer, there are now around 50 Nanodegrees all at the cutting edge of technology. The Program catalog is organized into Udacity's six Schools. And while you might think the School of Business had nothing to offer, it is where you will find UX DesignerMarketing  and Predictive Analytics for Business.


The majority of Nanodegree are at intermediate level although there are some beginner-level ones - for example Intro To Machine Learning With TensorFlowwhich is for those new to machine learning who already have intermediate Python skills. Some of the most recent programs are at advanced level and have introductory programs that complement them, for example, Sensor Fusion Nanodegree which we reported on at its launch, pairs with Intro to Self-Driving Cars Nanodegree program. Over the years we have covered the majority of Udacity's nanodegree programs (see the long list of Related articles) but bear in mind their content is revised and updated to keep abreast of latest changes in the technology.

Udacity's pricing model has changed over time but at the time of writing it charges a monthly subscription of $399, and most Nanodegree programs are expected to take at least 4 months, giving the baseline price around $1,600. Notice that it no longer offers any rebate for completion within a certain time frame.

These are the benefits it currently offers:

  • Real-world projects from industry experts
    With real world projects and immersive content built in partnership with top tier companies, you’ll master the tech skills companies want.

  • Technical mentor support
    Our knowledgeable mentors guide your learning and are focused on answering your questions, motivating you and keeping you on track.

  • Personal career coach and career services
    You’ll have access to career coaching sessions, interview prep advice, and resume and online professional profile reviews to help you grow in your career.

  • Flexible learning program
    Get a custom learning plan tailored to fit your busy life. Learn at your own pace and reach your personal goals on the schedule that works best for you.


For many computer science students it is the personalized code reviews that will be the most valuable support and in many ways how good a learning experience you get with Udacity does depend on how you relate to your assigned mentor and whether your career plan is amenable to the advice and coaching on offer. Notice that it no longer offers any guarantees of landing a job although some of its partners do recruit preferentially graduates of the nanodegree programs they are involved with.
As I Programmer team member Nikos Vaggalis discovered in completing the Android Developer program, a Udacity nanodegree is a real achievement. Yes, it was a rewarding thing to do and well worth it at the end of the day, but it required commitment, stamina and a great deal of work. 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 02 August 2022 )