Degree or experience?

Around the beginning of last month I came up with a post about the relevance or not of a degree for one to be a writer. I suggested that although you may have a good academic qualification you’d need to master some basic writing skills.

It was in some sort a follow up to a previous post where I stated that “there’s no straightforward answer to it.” And that “most writers, coaches or writing course providers would say you don’t need an English degree. They’d say a good command of English is all you need.”

This question of whether you need to have a degree has been haunting the minds of people on a global scale. While some time ago when not everybody could afford higher education for various reasons, a degree was held in high esteem. Degree holders were “demigods”. Today everybody seems to have access to higher education up to some college or university level. They haven’t lost their importance though.

But then people start talking about experience. Many companies look for experience in addition to your degree. New degree holders are often held in hostage while seeking jobs. How can you acquire experience when you haven’t had the opportunity to work? And how can you apply for jobs when you don’t have the qualifications?

This brings me to the question: “which is more important: education or experience?” And that’s what precisely JCM Enterprises, “a professional team of Canadian and U.S. writers with experience, talent and high-caliber skills” attempts to answer in their latest post “Do You Need a Degree to Be a Professional? 

Some interesting comments follow the article which, I’d say, is written in a well-balanced manner. Like one that says: “I agree that my writing skills owe more to my high school English teachers than to anything I learned in university.” Or another one: “my room mate, a structural engineer, never went to college, never got any kind of formal training, and is totally self-taught. He works for a major Sign Company here in Vegas and totally blows away any of the other engineers in his department.

I’m keen to know more about this problematic issue which I consider of vital importance in an environment of cut-throat competition. I am also concerned about how it works in different counties. In my own, a degree is required for important positions. Then you are a professional. So folks, what do you think? Do you value a degree? Do you consider that a degree is essential in life? Or experience? Or both?

Occupational Safety & Health Management Professional,
Personnel Management & Industrial Relations Professional,
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5 thoughts on “Degree or experience?

  1. I think it depends on what you want to do. My husband dropped out of university at 19 as he had chosen the wrong degree and it wasn’t working out. By his late 20’s he knew what he wanted to do and needed the qualification. So he went back to college and spent the last five years working towards his degree as well as holding down a full time job. Now he is looking for a new job, of which there are fewer than five years ago and as he is lacking in experience he has not even been offered an interview but how can he get experience without someone giving him a job?

  2. Thanks for the linkout – I appreciate that.

    @ Beccy – that is a problem, I agree. No degree, no job. No experience, no job. Degree and experience? Someone’s burning the candle at both ends to get that these days, and it’s tough.

    I don’t know the answer to this right now (but am going to think it over). Do feel free to come visit our post, as I believe there are a few people commenting right now who would be very interested in discussing this issue.

  3. Pingback: The Writers' Block

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