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Six Advantages and Disadvantages of Stacking Licenses and Certifications

Certificates are available in a variety of professions and have benefited the success of many people who have made the effort to improve their profile and professional careers by earning multiple certificates in one specific sector. The COVID-19 outbreak wreaked havoc on the economy.

Hundreds of millions of workers were laid off in the early months of the crisis, while employment began to recover after a few months, and unemployment remained high in 2020. The demand for additional healthcare workers has risen rapidly, indicating why medicine will always be a stable and dependable profession with the skills and training to deal with large-scale health catastrophes like COVID. The cancellation of schools due to COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on education all around the world.

As a result of the epidemic, instructors at schools, colleges, and institutions have been pushed to adopt a blended learning approach such as the inclusion of online modules that many have been foreign and completely new to many, are normal to some but have now been popularized.

What do stackable certifications mean?

Are you still in school and unsure about what you want to do with your career? Do you wish to advance in your work but lack the financial means to do so? Have you ever taken a break from school to do something you enjoyed? According to the United States Department of Labor, "stackability" means that two-year degrees and other longer-to-complete academic awards can be broken down into smaller, "stepping stone" awards, increasing the likelihood that a student will progress beyond the first short-term, stackable certificate, where earnings advantages are uncertain or meager, to a longer-term certificate or degree, where earnings advantages are larger and more certain."


The IT profession has been known for indulging in stackable certifications before COVID-19.

For instance, a perfect example would be a student who could enroll in a nursing assistant certificate program, then take the qualifying state test to become a certified nursing assistant, and then go on to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing. If you feel it in your guts that this is a perfect opportunity and a godsend option for your life right now, then go on and take it! It’s never too late to further your education, and the expense of your job shouldn’t even be a factor. Credentials can be stacked in three ways: vertically, horizontally, or in a hybrid configuration.

Vertical stacking

In the traditional approach, students who need to take a break from their studies will be able to take something meaningful with them rather than leave behind "unvested" credits until they have the time, money, endurance, or readiness to resume their journey toward a degree. For instance, advancing from a high school diploma/GED to an associate degree to a bachelor’s degree, etc. Essentially, leveling up as you go—literally!

Horizontal Stacking

This type of stacking fully concentrates on the subject and the building expertise overall. You don’t have to complete your courses in any order and it is mostly viewed as an unorganized stacking. Highly used in the IT and technology profession! Due to the fact that they can obtain certification in specialized areas to further broaden their knowledge for higher qualifying jobs. For example, a certificate in CompTIA (IT) + certificate in Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) +Certificate in Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) equals a job as an IT systems administrator.

Hybrid Stacking

Stacking is done both vertically and horizontally. This approach of stacking can be used by students to supplement their previous degrees with specialized skills or information in order to prepare for a certain job. When deciding what form of credential stacking to use, hybrid is a way that combines all of the previous methods outlined above and uses it as an option that best suits you!


Microcredentials, or stackable credentials, are growing in popularity among college students en route to their degrees and even more among working professionals. Helps further career advancement and promotes the integrity of a long-promised career. Stackable certificates are a viable alternative for people who cannot commit to a two-year degree and need the flexibility to complete it at their own pace.

  1. It helps students progress in their education continuum while simultaneously increasing their marketability and potential value.

  2. The affordability that it offers compared to going to a 2- or 4-year institution is remarkable.

  3. Meet employers' changing skill requirements among new hires and current employees.

  4. It provides flexibility for students and non-students while juggling family and work demands

  5. Increase employment opportunities

  6. Enhance and validate knowledge for adult learners!


Regardless of the pros, cons, and how clear the basic concept of several credentials is, the chance of working hard to earn something that will be useless on your path should be avoided. One of the biggest and arguably the most comparative disadvantages would be that it's not quite as good as an actual degree.

  1. Employers are unsure of the skills employees’ will possess after completing your program.

  2. The limitations that are within some certifications

  3. Not all certificates are universally accepted or recognized.

  4. Financial help might be difficult to come by

  5. Job opportunities with little pay

  6. There aren't many options when it comes to fields to pick from

Are you interested?

More millennials are using their credentials to create unique professional trajectories, regardless of how they stack them. Many students desire to avoid student loan debt, while others just want to get back to work as soon as possible. Large degree programs, such as an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree, are broken down into smaller learning units using stackable credentials. Depending on the course, you should be able to complete these modules in a few weeks or perhaps a few hours! You can start at any time and they are widely available! Additionally, there is no prior education required to enroll, although I highly recommend that you do your research and reach out to the organizations or institutions that you desire to avoid any challenges that would set you back from furthering your career. There is always a downside to every upside, so don't let the drawbacks keep you from taking advantage of the many options available to you.


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