What Is More Important? A Degree in Tech or Experience?

20th March 2019

computer studiesFor as long as technology has engulfed the world, this question keeps springing up in the minds of tech employers, degree or experience?

The answer has, however, taken various shapes based on employer preference.

Generally speaking, every employer, at some point, tries to choose one of both options. In most cases, they end up looking for both in one candidate.

Tech recruiters might have a clear vision of what they look out for in a candidate. However, computer science students or aspiring tech experts are probably displaced as to which to hold in high regard.

Before anything else, it should be noted that both a degree and experience are important. They equally have specific benefits. However, it may be that the tech industry can be a little bit keener on candidate experience. Considering that the industry heavily relies on individuals who are skilled in certain technologies, this is quite understandable.

Like a lot of other questions, this one also carries an “it depends” answer.

Let’s take a close look at how beneficial a tech degree is nowadays

Firstly, having a degree shows the extent of dedication or passion for a certain field. You can be sure that such a candidate has studied a huge range of skills during those study years.

If you ask a professor, he’s probably likely to tell you that the benefits of a degree spread through every aspect of a student’s life; could be ethical, intellectual, personal as well as social. A proper degree can develop your speed of learning and also your ability to soak in a lot of information.

Also, for a student taking precautions for the future and considering the possibility of switching career fields, a degree will definitely come in handy.

On the flip side, the experience might just be taking the lead in the tech industry

Every employer has one goal: to eliminate risk because hiring a wrong candidate can be costly. Learning on the job isn’t totally a bad idea but it’s a huge risk and these factors might just be considered:

  • Candidate gets trained,
  • Candidate gets paid,
  • Employer loses the chance of having a better candidate because he chose someone whose only asset is a degree.

If the candidate can’t get the work done after a considerable time limit, then it means the company will lose.  Now, if an employer keeps choosing a degree over skill set, a similar situation may occur more times than expected.

Consequently, an organization that employs mostly engineers is likely to not just focus on the certificate. All the hiring manager keeps thinking is “Can this candidate do the job?” – And to determine that, they test you on the spot.

Failing a take-home task even with a great degree can cost you a number of jobs.

Not to inspire a dropout decision, but there’s a potent difference between theoretical and practical knowledge. A candidate can have every textbook information, which doesn’t translate to practical hands-on experience.

So, degrees are awesome to get you through the first step of your job search (or a rookie position) but after that, a practical experience decides if you get the job or not.

It also decides how well you can advance in your career.

Statistically speaking, 60% of tech employers would mention a degree and experience

Truth is if you have a good experience and all that’s missing is a degree, most of these jobs are still attainable. Every employer wants great results and, ideally, with little or no supervision.

In addition, renegades are not complete strangers in the tech world; Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are a perfect example of what consistent practicality can achieve.

In order to achieve a great balance in the world of tech, you can choose to:

  • Remain in college (if you’re currently a student) and throw your weight on as many possible internships.
  • Forget about the degree (if you’re older and haven’t applied yet) and keep gathering relevant experiences.

Lastly, if you lack both a degree and practical experience and also feel too old for college, do well to lower your expectations and focus on getting the needed experience so you can later advance your career.


Read also: The resources I used to get into data science

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Oluwatobi Ogunrinde

A passionate writer hoping to educate people with her work. Oluwatobi enjoys writing about entrepreneurship and work culture. When not writing, you will find her reading about international politics.

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