Will your university degree get you a better job?

steve jobsThere are two schools of thought when it comes to careers and education. Academics will argue that school is an irreplaceable part of developing a viable career. Many business people would argue that you hardly use what you learn in school. Most business knowledge is built on experience.

 From working in a Recruiting office, I have seen people without high school diplomas chosen over people with Master’s degrees. Does a university education matter? When does it matter? Can it change your career? The answer is: it depends. If you are looking for specific jobs, such as in Accounting, you will need a CPA and a degree in Accounting. If you are looking to open your own business, you will never need to show your diploma. You will need funding, smarts, contacts, and a determination to turn your business into a success.

When it comes to employers, managers look at where a candidate went to school and what he or she studied. Contrary to popular belief, most companies hardly ever check GPA’s. Many companies also overlook an extra year in college, especially if you have more job experience. For jobs in the corporate world, majors such as Business Management, Finance, Accounting, Marketing, Economics, and Business Administration are most favorable. If you attend a more prestigious school, you have a better shot at gaining a position in a company that demands higher standards. This may give you a higher salary, but may also result in a more constrained office culture and longer office hours.

One of my most popular questions is: Should I go back to school for a Master’s Degree, such as an MBA? My answer is absolutely not. Unless a company pays for your degree and guarantees a higher salary, it is not a good idea to go back to school. A Master’s Degree in today’s economy can potentially hurt you as a candidate for work. Employers see graduates with higher education as a larger financial burden. Additionally, many managers do not have the same level of education and sometimes feel threatened by hiring someone with a higher degree.

Only about 8.9% of people in the United States possess a Master’s Degree. Ten or twenty years ago, a Master’s Degree increased a person’s salary by at least $10,000 a year. A Master’s Degree also pretty much guaranteed a job. Nowadays that statistic is very different. According to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate of those with a Bachelor’s Degree or higher is over 4% as of September 2012.

I have at least 6 friends who have a Master’s Degree, or even two, who make $47,000 per year or less. Many work in administrative positions that require a high school diploma. Others work in civil service positions, at restaurants, and some even work at clothing stores.

Therefore, when choosing an education it is perhaps wiser to choose a strong Bachelor’s Degree in Business, focusing more on applicable job experience that will eventually lead to a full time position. Almost every employer seeks job experience over education alone. A strong university degree is only a supplement to your resume. It can help, tremendously, but without job experience it will not help you reach your full career potential.

Guest post courtesy of Free Resume Builder

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