The secret about Internet marketing is out. Now, major accredited universities are offering an Internet marketing certification program–either as a stand alone or as part of an overall business degree. You may have already seen the ads. Now, rather than having to choose between which online marketing education program to join, you now have the opportunity to pay thousands of dollars in tuition to learn many of the same skills. Is it worth the extra expense?Right now, there are three general levels of financial investment you can make in your online marketing education: no financial investment, relatively small financial investment, and large financial investment.The no financial investment option is where you obtain all the information you need for free. This is indeed possible. Internet marketers are a rather chatty bunch, and they like to share tips and tricks with each other and with newbies. You can find a literal gold mine of information just by hanging out on forums dedicated to Internet marketing. You can also find extremely helpful information in the myriads of free reports offered on thousands of independent Internet marketing websites and blogs, not to mention the website content itself. Giving out free information is a widely recognized marketing tactic, which is good news for you because the free information is often genuinely helpful.The downside of relying on free information is that it will be up to you to organize it in a way that makes sense to you. One day you’ll learn about a particular search engine optimization strategy. Another day you’ll learn how to compose a pay per click ad. It will take a lot of reading and some trial and error to really start putting the pieces together enough to be able to launch a complete campaign. The process will be time intensive, so you need to determine the value of your time and see if it might be worth paying to have the information organized for you.The organization of information is really most of what you pay for when you buy an online marketing education package. Someone took the trouble to tell you the first things you need to know, the first action steps you need to take, moving you through to the intermediate and advanced skills and action steps. The organized information could be offered as an ebook, a series of videos or webinars that you pay for, or a membership site with an ongoing fee to participate. You will find a number of paid opportunities to learn the basics of Internet marketing–enough for you to get started. My personal preference is with the membership site. Although it’s more expensive than an ebook, you have the chance to keep up with the changes in the industry. Like all things related to the Internet, online marketing changes very quickly.The majority of the products that serve those seeking an online marketing education are geared towards those wanting to build an independent income stream online. You will be trained to build and run your own independent business. Many people have gotten into Internet marketing as a way to work for themselves, supplement their income or quit their job, and enjoy the good life without having to put in the grueling hours.The most expensive option for getting an online marketing education is to go through a university. However, in some cases, the Internet marketing certification from an accredited university may be the best option. University training has traditionally been geared towards career and job seekers rather than entrepreneurs, and this is true with Internet marketing certification programs as well. The truth is that both small businesses and major corporations are recognizing the urgent importance of getting an online presence. Companies are already hiring people who can deliver that presence at high salaries. If you are looking for a stable job, the Internet marketing certification could become important. If you gained your online marketing education by reading an eBook or participating in a membership site, you may need to first demonstrate some significant Internet marketing success before a company will take you seriously. Once you do that, you may not want a regular job.Everyone who applies themselves to learning the skills involved in online marketing can become successful at it. However entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. Up until now, Internet marketing has been the playground for independent business owners. With the universities now offering online marketing education with the Internet marketing certificate to prove it and companies now hiring people specifically for internet marketing purposes, the field is now truly wide open for employees and business owners alike. This is the real value the internet marketing certification program offered by an accredited university brings to the industry. Whether or not it is worth the price tag of college tuition remains to be seen.