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Education vs. Experience: Which Matters More for Your Career?

Education vs. Experience: Which Matters More for Your Career?

Diploma versus professional experience. What do you need to do to advance in your career? Can years of hard-earned experience replace a four-year college degree?

Regret in life is powerful.

A common regret among many is not finishing School.

But do academic qualifications really matter?

After all, nearly two-thirds of the U.S. workforce lacks a high school diploma.

Can years of hard-earned experience replace a four-year college degree?

Yes, no, maybe.

This Teaching vs. Teaching debate depends a lot on the area of expertise you work in, and your current professional situation.

In this article, we will look at Experience and Education.

We will Discuss which one is dominant in different situations.

The Arguments in favor of Education

Let’s first look at the arguments for a degree or continuing education.

How will a certificate or diploma help you in your career?

There are several ways.

A higher salary is more likely.

Education can certainly help. A person gets a well-paying job or a higher-paying job.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees with advanced degrees earn more than those with a high school diploma.

Master’s degree holders earn an average weekly salary of $1,497.

But for a worker with a high school diploma, the cost is $746.

That’s more than double!

Information from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics also shows that unemployment rates are lower among people with college degrees.

Some areas require training.

As you know, some professions are highly dependent on qualifications.

Professional fields like healthcare, education, engineering, and research naturally require employees with higher education.

In some cases, companies also have policies that require applicants to have certain degrees.


For example:

  • According to Harvard Business School, 67% of employers request a college degree in postings for the Supervisor of Production Workers role.
  • In addition, 96% of mechanical engineer jobs require a college degree.

Future opportunities are more readily available.

Obtaining a higher education automatically opens many career doors that would otherwise be inaccessible.

You will discover a career and job change as a fairly simple task compared to someone without higher education. Additionally, advanced degrees can play an important role in advancement within an organisation.

Higher education means better reputation.

From an employer’s perspective, educated people generally make a better impression than uneducated people.

This may sound harsh, but it is true.

In most cases, advanced degrees bring prestige.

It will make your resume stronger.

A survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that 82% of executives and 75% of hiring managers believe a college degree is “very important” or “extremely necessary” for professionals.

The arguments in favour of Experience

Well, many statistics support the need for higher education.

But don’t underestimate the importance of professional experience.

This experiment also has its own set of arguments, to back it up!

Some career fields require experience.

In some professional fields, professional experience is always crucial.

The nature of these jobs is such that no amount of training can replace the skills provided by real-life experience.

Take, for example, these two fields: construction and sales.

While they’re very different from each other, there’s no room for the degree vs. experience debate here.

Experience wins, hands down.

Old degrees can be obsolete.

Has it been 25 years since you graduated from college?

After so many years, much of what we learned in college is outdated.

What you do after college will be even more important.

  • How far have you progressed professionally?
  • What practical experience have you acquired?
  • How much do you contribute to the companies you work for?

All of these experiences will be more meaningful than education and degrees.

Experience makes you competitive.

Imagine a recent graduate after a few years of training or part-time work. So imagine a fresh graduate with no experience.

Who will have the competitive advantage?

Candidates with experience definitely have an advantage. A study carried out by Maguire Associates confirms this.

So, wherever you are, experience will always give you a competitive edge in your career.

Even if it’s not in the eyes of others, you’ll know you’ve done your job and can do it again in the future.

This knowledge will help boost your confidence.

Future growth will require it.

A higher degree does not guarantee a higher professional position.

You still have to work your way up the ladder, no matter what degree you have earned.

In any professional field, a lack of sufficient work experience will translate into a lack of promotions. Standards change.

If you’re actively looking for work, you may have noticed an increase in jobs that require a bachelor’s degree.

According to the Harvard Business School study mentioned above, 3 of the 11.6 million jobs created between 2010 and 2016 required a bachelor’s degree or higher.

However, there are significant deviations from this rule in some areas and companies.

The same Harvard Business School survey also showed that 40% of employers surveyed ranked a four-year degree as the least important qualification, when considering a candidate.

The traditional norm of degree inflation is shifting, specifically in the technology field. Many large corporations, including Google, Tesla, Apple, Netflix, and others, do not require college degrees from job applicants.

Key Takeaways

In the battle of experience v/s education, there’s no clear winner.

So what’s the verdict?

It all depends on where you are in your career and your field.

Education is critical long-term career development in traditional career fields.

But the same can be said about experience.

It’s safe to say that you need a combination of education and experience to have a lasting and growing career.



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