Experience vs. qualifications

Written by Chris West

Most candidates have both experience and qualifications, and both contribute to their ability to perform their job well. Qualifications show that you have the knowledge necessary for your profession, whereas experience proves that you've practiced working in your field. Someone with experience might need less training than someone who has more qualifications and less experience, but a candidate with specialised qualifications may have more up-to-date knowledge of a specific field, this can be helpful for science-based roles.

Companies can benefit from hiring candidates with experience, qualifications or both, depending on the industry and the role the company offers. Construction is a great example where experience tends to be favoured over qualifications. Whereas engineering would suit someone with both as they will likely have exposure to new technologies and processes while at university and have the practical application skills that come with experience.

Pros of Qualifications

  • A degree isn’t just about getting a job or a career. Many University goers say it develops them more socially and personally than anything else.
  • Businesses often write job advertisements that specify that a degree is needed for the job, this shows the value of degrees within specific sectors.
  • In the UK there has been a major change, turning to more intellectual than manual skilled roles.
  • There are now degrees where you can study in your own time which allows individuals to gain experience while being formally educated at the same time.

Pros of Experience

  • Someone with a few years of experience who has been exposed to relevant industry qualifications during this time is a valuable asset to the company in question. Experience means you can hit the ground running with minimal training required.
  • A degree qualification was once a major deciding factor in who got the job, but as more and more people have gained degrees it has become less impressive and clients are considering experience as a fair way to compare candidates.
  • An employer looks favourably at a candidate with good experience. Experience demonstrates many qualities. You can’t build up good experience if you aren’t a good employee as you wouldn’t remain in the role.

There isn’t an answer on what is the better option as it’s so subjective, it really depends on what your aims are in life and what route opens the most doors in your target sector.

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