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Qualifications vs Experience: Which Is More Valuable?

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

Should you focus on gaining qualifications or experience to obtain your dream job? This post discusses the benefits and drawbacks of both to determine which one is really more valuable.

Some industries cannot be accessed without qualifications

It’s impossible to break into industries such as law and medicine without a degree. If you have your heart set on entering these careers, qualifications could be a necessity.

Some roles cannot be achieved without experience

Employers may ask for several years’ experience from applicants when advertising certain roles. Without this experience you may not be able to apply for these roles. Managerial roles often require experience.

Gaining qualifications may cost you a lot of money

Education is a big investment. The cost of university fees is now very expensive and you could be paying off student debts for many years. While there are employer sponsored degrees and cheaper options like studying abroad, these options may not be available to everyone.

Gaining experience may cost you a lot of time

Gaining experience often requires putting in a lot of time. You may have to spend several years in an entry role before you can rise to your dream role. Some people even take up voluntary experience as a means of gaining experience, which can mean giving up time without any financial reward for your work. Not all highly paid roles require a lot of experience and some may have fast track programs, but this isn’t always the case.

Those with qualifications, on average, earn more than those without

Research shows that having a degree still puts you in a better pay bracket. A higher salary could make the cost of studying worthwhile, allowing you to pay off the debts quickly.

Experience can also get you access to higher paid jobs

Starting roles at companies tend to be fairly low paid. However, if you’ve got experience, you’ll likely be offered better pay. Even if you’re not offered better pay, you can often more easily negotiate better pay with an employer.

The most credible candidates have both experience and qualifications

Employers are likely to look more highly upon candidates with both experience and qualifications. If you’re looking to get into a professional care position, it could be worth pursuing an aged care course and finding experience in a care role – an employer is likely to favour you over a candidate that has only one or the other. If you’re trying to land a job in accounting, it could be worth pursuing an accounting course and getting some experience at an accounting form.

Verdict: it’s good to have both

Both qualifications and experience are equally valuable in today’s job market. Both can get you access to more opportunities and more pay.

There are now more options than ever for obtaining both. Apprenticeships are a popular option for obtaining experience and education. There are also courses with sandwich years that can allow you to study a degree with a year of work experience included. Alternatively, you could study while working a voluntary or low-paid entry role on the side.

 

About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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