Often times when applying for professional opportunities we wonder which is more important, education or experience. It is possible to be the perfect fit for a job with having gained work experience over the years without a college degree. Or perhaps the applicant is qualified with a degree however, is missing on the job experience. Lacking in one area or the other could cause an applicant to shy away from an opportunity. Refrain from being discouraged from an opportunity. The truth is both education and experience are of value to a potential employer for different reasons.
Earning an education
It is undeniable that receiving and education is invaluable. Knowledge is power and earning a college degree helps prepare you for the career you are interested in. The Association of American Colleges and Universities 2018 report shows that 82% of executives and 75% of hiring managers believe in the importance of completing a college education. Hiring managers shared that although a college education may not offer experience for specific skills of the job, there are other skills that are acquired, such as effective oral communication and teamwork.
There are also some studies that correlate higher earnings to obtaining a degree. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 data report shows that those with degrees receive higher salaries. The differences in these salaries varied from the degree type. This does not mean that you are unqualified for a particular job if you have not received a college education.
Developing professional skills are just as important as earning a degree. Gaining work experience early on helps to establish connections. Networking opportunities arise when working in industries you are interested in. These connections may serve as great references for later positions.
Another benefit of experience is learning important professional skills sets. Professional etiquette and leadership abilities are developed and matured through experience. Work experience helps to shape up your resume as well as prepare you for future interviews. What you have learned from education is important however, being able to provide real life examples that relate to the profession you are applying for is valuable. Experience is also favorable for employers. More hands on experience may mean less on the job training. This saves employers both money and time.
Best of both worlds
So which is better, experience or education? The answer is that both are important factors when measuring success. Education is invaluable and experience demonstrates skills learned academically. Work experience broadens your networking connections while growing and maturing professional skills. A degree shows commitment to a craft by earning an education to have the technical skill.
When applying for a job always consider the qualifications. What is the employer looking for and how does that align with either your education and/or experience. Having one or the other doesn’t not always qualify or disqualify you for the job. You can also never have too much of either. Both an education and work experience increases your chances of success. Bottom line is seize the opportunity and take advantage of anything that will help you grow both intellectually and professionally.