Is a Degree More Valuable than Job Experience?

The debate is widespread regarding the value of a degree and whether or not job experience is more valuable. If you are having an ongoing debate with yourself as to whether or not it is worth spending the time and the money to earn your degree, you need to find out what the statistics say. In the past, all it took was drive and perhaps some years of professional experience to land a high-paying position with a great benefits package. Now, even college graduates who graduate at the top of their class are having trouble finding roles in the field that they major in. Read on, and find out more about where the value is placed.
experience vs degree

What Does the Study Show Regarding Income with Experience vs Degree?

It has been a dilemma for ages. Young professionals need experience to find a good job but need a job to get experience. The solution to this double-edged sword seemed to be go to school to earn a degree in a field that is high in demand. After all, with your degree you can develop your knowledge of the field and then learn how to be a professional in the setting. Earning a degree is believed to be the best way to earn a decent income, but that is not always how things turn out.

According to a Georgetown study, the value of your degree can outweigh job experience but only in some fields. If you earn an advanced-level degree in an area like Computer Science, Engineering, or Information Technology, you will earn an average of $79,000 per year. This is significantly higher than the average salary of an educator with a basic degree or certificate who has been in the field for 10-plus years.

Comparisons Between Graduates and Experienced Professionals in the Same Field

While an advanced degree will earn you more in some fields compared to others, when you compare the income of professionals in the same field as you experience matters. Regardless of your level of education, when you are entering the same field, experience will outweigh education because these professionals have proven themselves to be skilled workers. The only way to do this is to work in a real-world setting outside of the classroom.

Will an Undergraduate Degree Payoff?

There is not denying that an advanced degree has value, but what is the value of a bachelor’s degree compared to experience? This all depends on the industry. High school graduates with experience do tend to earn more than inexperienced college degree holders for the first few years in the marketplace. While this is true, degree holders almost always end up earning more than those without a degree. They climb the ranks more quickly because they have a developed skill set and a robust resume. This is proven by the fact that 82% of college graduates say that their education has been an asset to their careers.

You cannot say that experience is better than a degree or vice versa. The right answer would be to say that a combination of the two is best. While the value of a degree is high in most fields, you still must recognize the value of practical experience.

Bambi Majumdar

Melissa Anderson

Julie McCaulley