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Experience or education: which is more important?

Experience or education: which is more important?

If you’re entering the world of work or thinking about a career change, you might be wondering if experience is more important than a degree, or vice versa.

Here we explore the benefits of education vs experience – including gaining those sought-after transferable skills. We also go down the experience vs education route and see how many employers favour industry experience over a 2:1. You'll also find out what is the work experience equivalent to bachelor degree.

You might just hit on the Holy Grail for employers, too – education and experience – whether you’re fresh out of school or a job veteran looking to swap careers.

Experience or education: which is more important?

If you’re entering the world of work or thinking about a career change, you might be wondering if experience is more important than having a degree, or vice versa. And if you haven't got what you need, is it too late? Let’s take a look.

Education vs Experience

A university dean would sit you down and explain the importance of getting a degree. Many professions – such as doctors, lawyers and engineers – demand it, and it’ll certainly crop up under ‘desirable’ on many job postings.

So why do we need education? Well, the dean would say it teaches you transferable skills such as the ability to research, analyse and manage your time. A degree will also show employers you can soak up information and learn quickly.

Experience vs Education

A self-made entrepreneur, on the other hand, would tell you experience is key. If you enter the world of work straight out of school, they’d say, you’ll learn on the job and gain three or more years’ industry experience than uni leavers.

When it comes to career progression, recruiters will see you’ve got grit to succeed and that it’ll take less time to train – or ‘on-board’ – you to be job ready. Plus, if you’ve been in an industry for a few years it shows your commitment – and that you won’t flake out after a year.

Experience and Education

Truth is, it’s not as simple as education or experience. Greedy employers want both. A recent survey by recruitment specialists Universum found that 58% of leading employers value work experience among graduates more than grades or the name of their university.

So if you have your heart set on further education, it’s worth considering doing a sandwich course, which mixes hands-on training with academic study. If your course doesn’t do that, you can still find work placement that'll help you become more commercially aware.

If you’re already in the workplace, good employers will give you time – and resources – to study for industry qualifications. This has become even easier recently thanks to advances in remote learning technology.

It’s on you

Most employers want to see theoretical and practical skills from candidates. But you can gain both from experience and education. So if you’re fretting about which road to start out on – uni or job; don’t. You can gain both skill sets whichever you choose. And remember, you can always go back to uni or retrain in a different profession later in life.

Next to work experience, that Universum study found that 48% of employers choose candidates because of their personality. And you can learn favourable life skills at uni, on the job or at home. Socialising, for example, helps you work with others. It’s good practice for networking, too.


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