Which Do Employers Value More Education Vs. Experience?

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The million-dollar question most people have asked themselves time and time again is, is college worth it? Is it logical to put oneself in significant student loan debt with the hope that a degree will provide a substantial yearly income? Or on the other hand, does real-world experience in a career field trump education? 

Typically, employers value education more so over experience. However, studies have begun to show a dip in demand for degrees in place of consecutive years of on-site experience and references for job placement. 

Keep reading for an in-depth comparison to the age-old question of which employers value more, education or experience. 

The Evidence For Education
According to a 2019 unemployment survey, approximately 2.2% of people with a degree were unemployed, compared to 3.7% with a high school diploma. What does this mean? In basic terms, having an education was a significant factor in job retention. Furthermore, the study concluded that a bachelor’s degree earned people an average of $500 more a week in salary compared to non-degree employees. This is partly due to employers justifying an increase of a starting salary of about 11% higher than employees without an education. 

Digging deeper into this theory, researching job postings that require a degree, there are no significant duties listed that are different whether a degree is or is not required. In fact, about nine of ten job listings posted to websites such as CareerBuilder or LinkedIn share similar job responsibilities for both degree and non-degree related career opportunities.

The argument for education seems to show that most employers believe the following to be true of a degree-holding employee:
Possess more job readiness skills 
– Actively practice hard and soft skills 
Evidence of effective communication 
Successful at time management and social skills 

While education provides a broader knowledge of a career field, college does not teach people how to effectively maintain a job, be on time, handle conflict, or adhere to policies and procedures. While it may increase yearly salary and benefits, obtaining a degree does not guarantee or increase job reliability or longevity. 

Education Vs. Knowledge  
Another factor to take into consideration when it comes to obtaining a degree is actual knowledge. Just because a person graduates does not necessarily conclude they know what they are doing. Most college students can agree that more than half of their classes were passed by using websites that advertise “buy cheap essays online” or getting the answers from a classmate. It is hard to show without a doubt that a degree equals knowledge more so than hands-on, real-life experience. 

The Argument For Experience
According to Harvard Business School, the most relevant factor an employee can possess is experience. In fact, 37% of employers surveyed agreed that they are willing to look past an applicant not having a degree over instead of ten or more years of job experience. 

The number of non-degreed employees hired by top corporate companies further represents this evidence. Some of these well-known companies include: 
– Google
– Facebook
– Apple
– Tesla

The companies listed offer careers in fields that do not require an education solely from a classroom setting or a lecture. Employers are beginning to recognize that students can spend four years in school to learn a skill and come out not knowing much more than when they started. Careers that are tech-related, such as those offered in the companies mentioned above, rely more on the user having a hands-on experience rather than recalling what they read in a book. 

Jobs in these fields are more likely not to ask for a degree, but rather how much job experience the applicant holds:
Customer Service
Computer Techs

In the same instance as education, while hands-on experience does increase understanding and reliability of correctly executing a skill, it does not guarantee an employee will show up on time, dress accordingly, effectively communicate, or act professionally. 

The Verdict – Conclusion

While both education and experience hold steady evidence in what an employer values most, the result is the same for both, both are equally important. 

While education gives valuable information, experience provides an environment to execute that knowledge. It is imperative that an employee is well-rounded in all aspects of employability. These include knowledge, potential, hard and soft skills, ability to grow with a job, and physical appearance. Employers will value an employee who brings all these qualities to the interview and allow room for flexibility as both gain experience in the years to come. 

Author Bio
Barbara Fielder is a full-time freelance writer and editor. She is always trying to improve her efficiency and keep up with the increasing demands of her work. Barbara loves to cook, spend time with her friends, and travel in her free time.