Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Is A College Degree More Important Than Experience?

An age-old question; which is more important to an employer or company, having a college degree under your belt, or having the knowledgeable experience only gained by being in the workforce/profession of your choice?

There's truly no right or wrong answer to this question. You have to think of it in terms of what field you are thinking of traveling down, for instance; if you choose to be an attorney practicing criminal law, a medical physician looking to be a neurologist, or even a counselor in marriage and family well-being, then there is no doubt that you will need a degree for your long road. Now, if you are a graphic designer, or even find yourself in as an entry level or junior draftsman, experience is a much more relied upon skill.

In countries like the UK (Britain), the United States, Canada and some other places experience does tend to be more important than a degree or university education. In other countries, a degree is more important and experience is secondary. First the person needs to have proper qualifications (i.e. degree) and then experience comes as a secondary matter. I personally have been on countless interviews in the past and even read through position/job descriptions and requirements; many of which will state one of the following:

  • Experience needed
  • HS diploma or equivalent applicable
  • Bachelors Degree required
  • Bachelors Degree or relevant experience required
  • No experience, no degree needed
  • (X) amount of years experience required
So what are applicants and future job seekers supposed to really think of their future as far as education, dream pursuing, entrepreneurship and life goes? There definitely are some things that cannot be taught in a classroom, such as on the job experience; while in the same breath, other things can ONLY be acquired while in a classroom setting or online studies.

As others have indicated, it depends on the job and the organization. In some cases, if one doesn't have the degree, then you would not even be considered for an interview. In other cases (here's a SECRET), the employer puts many more qualifications in the job "requirements" than he/she is really requiring. Particularly if one has a lot of experience in a particular area, it generally doesn't hurt to apply for a job that requires more education than one has. Be sure to emphasize how extensive your experience has been and how well you can apply that experience to the benefit of the employer. There are some questions that applicant should be prepared to answer: 1) Are you willing and able to get degree required? On your own dime/time? 2) Why do you think such a degree is important (or not important)? 3) Why don't you have the required degree? 4)Do you think that your not having degree will affect your relationships with others in the job situation - both those who do and those who do not have the degree? Applicants may want to bring up and address these issues on their own if the interviewer doesn't bring them up. If you can answer them in a positive way to allay interviewer's fears that you are not qualified enough. If possible, check with a friend with the degree about possible problems. This could also be a good reality check.


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