A Higher Degree or More Years at Work? What Will You Go For?
Christine S. Baker
July 16th, 2012
It’s one of the oldest debates in the job market – what should you focus more on? Education or experience? Which will leave a more lasting impression on an employer? We present our view on the relative benefits of each and how both could add up to your credentials.
The Pros of Education
- It’s a Formal Qualification
An educational degree provides a legit qualification to the skills and abilities of an individual. It’s like a stamp of approval, verifying that the holder of the degree has acquired a certain level of skills and knowledge that qualify him/ her to work in a given profession.
- It Provides Proof of a Formal Learning Background
A college degree, such as a four-year bachelor’s or even a master’s degree is a proof that the student has studied formally and has been instructed by qualified individuals, even if the degree is pursued online. Employers know that anyone armed with a formal education will have a certain level of research and interpersonal skills acquired through the exposure to several like-minded intellectuals.
- Some Professions Have A Minimum Benchmark Requirement
In some professions, a minimum bachelor-level degree has become a standard requirement. Careers such as engineering, nursing, medicine and sciences are some examples. Entry-level jobs in these professions are not awarded without a college degree, and the lack of the same can be quite a hindrance in finding employment.
The Pros of Experience
- It Shows You Can Work In A Real-Life Setting
The experience acquired from internships, work projects, or employment in an industry, makes students confident in their abilities as they get to taste job challenges in reality, outside the bounds of a classroom.
- It Shows You Have On-The-Job Knowledge And Training
It’s not as if work experience comes without any value-addition as far as knowledge is concerned. In fact, it comes with a unique set of skills and know-how about the thick and thin of a profession that can only be acquired by working. For example, a nurse may have studied in detail about how to conduct a technical procedure, but work experience shows that she knows how to use techniques practically.
- It Keeps You Updated About Developments In Your Field
Imagine someone working in the IT industry, a filed that is literally buzzing with changes and advancements every hour of the day. Any individual who is actually working in the industry will be instantaneously updated about the changes happening around him/ her. This applies to other professions as well.
No Right or Wrong Choice
The choice between education and experience is not something that can be set in black and white. The old experience versus education debate doesn’t come with a definite solution.
It really depends on the career you are pursuing and the nature of the industry you’ll be working in. For example, higher educational attainment may matter more in a research-intensive field while some careers may value hands-on experience more. Regardless of that, one cannot replace the other, and students should aim to achieve a balance of both.
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