General Question

chelle21689's avatar

Is a bachelor's degree not enough anymore?

Asked by chelle21689 (7770points) October 19th, 2011

I really hate how this works. I read that the bachelor’s degree is now way too common so you have to set yourself apart by getting a higher degree like a master’s. Okay, so what happens if everyone starts getting a master’s degree…go on to get a PhD? After everyone starts getting a PhD then what??

Back then high school diplomas were good enough, and people started to separate themselves with higher degrees so it just keeps getting higher and higher over the years. More money spent on universities going broke.

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26 Answers

mrrich724's avatar

I’m not sure where this misconception comes from, but bachelor’s degrees are not all that common. I work in the HR department for a company that employs 6,000, and I recruit every day.

I’d say at least 80 % of the people I contact every day don’t have a degree.

The only time EVERYONE has a degree is when I’m recruiting for an upper-level management position, and in that case, the candidates do b/c they’ve acquired it in their adventure to the positions they’ve been working in! Even then, some don’t.

A part of me feels like there must be a very subtle marketing effort to get people to think they are the only one without a degree, but from what I’ve seen, it truly isn’t near as common as people believe.

nikipedia's avatar

There are already too many PhDs. Degrees don’t help you get jobs unless they’re specific professional degrees (and even then, there’s an overflow in many markets).

Work experiences (e.g., internships, entrepreneurial ventures) are much more valuable to hiring, I think.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@mrrich724 It probably comes from all the jobs for low level office work demanding that you have a bachelor’s in order to be considered for the job of answering phones.

Blackberry's avatar

Experience is the new degree.

mrrich724's avatar

@Blackberry I don’t think it’s the NEW degree, b/c experience has always been valued!

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Blackberry I would disagree, because experience alone doesn’t seem to be enough for most jobs – you need at least a bachelors, and lots of experience.

mrrich724's avatar

Also, nowadays, “in this economy,” that “low level phone answering job” is expected to do a whole lot more, like accounting, etc which is where the degree comes in.

I.E. they want you to do more for less.

My sister started out answering the phone at her company, and now she’s doing the A/P and A/R. They are sending her to classes for it b/c she didn’t go to college.

That’s my guess on it, but the honest approach lead me to scan a few postings on the leading websites, and I’m hard pressed to find a receptionist position that’s requiring a bachelor’s, it’s definitely not the majority of receptionist positions anyway. . . so while it sounded good to say that, no, “low level office work” is not requiring a bachelor’s degree. Not in Florida anyway.

Maybe New York or other places where they have to pay receptionists according to the cost of living, so they might as well ask for something worth the $20/hour for a person to answer the phones.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Not enough to jump you ahead of people with no degrees but who already have on the job experience? If that’s what you’re asking then in general, no it’s not enough. The majority of jobs postings I’ve looked through prefer a Bachelor’s or a few years experience.

I have a sibling who got a liberal arts degree and still couldn’t get a job that paid better than babysitting so she got a Master’s and still couldn’t break into teaching or getting a decent writing gig so now she’s getting a PhD in hopes that will help her nose into a teaching spot.

If there are specific certificates or vocational training you’ll need for job you really want, don’t think an extra degree or intern work will get you around that. Research the job you want carefully and uncover what training the people already in that position invest in and keep updated with.

Blackberry's avatar

@Aethelflaed @mrrich724 I agree, experience and a bachelors is the new bachelors. Lol.

chelle21689's avatar

thanks guys! That makes me feel a bit better, lol that there are a good amount of exceptions. I just read online articles that talk about this stuff…and from friends.

mrrich724's avatar

@Blackberry now that’s an accurate statement, LOLOL

chelle21689's avatar

I think I’d take an internship before I graduate :P that could create some experience.

YoBob's avatar

Depends on your profession.

I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science during that time the technology industry was booming and I had no problem landing a job right out of college. A few years later I enrolled in a master’s degree program in order to keep my skills fresh, but ultimately asked myself if the time required was really worthwhile. At the time I had no intention of changing companies, for I was working at one of the biggies in the industry and had enough tenure that I couldn’t imagine my job being in jeopardy. Then the dot com crash hit and I found myself between projects during the fifth round of layoffs.

Now, (long story short) although I have a good job I by no means consider it secure and the harsh reality is that with the high number of unemployed engineers combined with the systematic outsourcing of the entire profession, hiring managers won’t even look at your resume these days unless you have a master’s degree. Bottom line is that they seem to value a freshly minted master’s degree over 20 years of real world experience, and in many cases all of those years of real world experience translate to “probably old enough that (s)he will be expecting a much higher salary that a fresh out master’s degree”.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@mrrich724 No, not the one’s I was talking about. I wouldn’t call those “low-level”, I would call those “mid-level” or “lower-mid-level”.

laureth's avatar

Story time. A position at my employer opened up and my boss thought I should go for it. The job description required a degree, though, and I said, “Boss, I don’t have a degree.” Boss said, “That’s just to sort out the people who apply from outside the company, to make sure we don’t get a bunch of useless applicants. You, however, we know you and we know you do good work, so you don’t need the degree.” I didn’t end up wanting the job, but it told me two things. One, was that the screening software would have tossed my application before anyone saw it, if I’d’ve applied from outside. Second, that a degree shows them that I know how to play the game (show up on time for a number of years, be reasonably intelligent, etc.) which are important job skills no matter what job you want, and they can rely on that to tell them something about you when they’re sifting through 10,000 people that they don’t know personally.

So the answer is yes or no, depending on how you look at it. You might need one to put you at the front of the line (especially when employers can pick and choose from legions of unemployed, desperate people as well as waiting for the right candidate from the already-employed-elsewhere), but you might not need the actual degree to do the actual job.

jerv's avatar

Just out of curiosity, does having two years experience actually doing the job advertised for mean anything? My wife can’t get an Accounts Receivable job to save her life simply because she lacks a degree. @Neizvestnaya is not entirely correct; for many, it isn’t a preference, it’s mandatory.

Then again, there really isn’t a degree that can prepare you for a job like mine (CNC Machinist), and all of the engineers that think they know otherwise are proven so wrong that I’ve seen them wind up in tears.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@jerv does having two years experience actually doing the job advertised for mean anything? Not in my experience, unless you have an inside connection or some other way of being known personally that will make sure they give you a more thorough look and don’t toss your app in screening like in @laureth‘s story.

@laureth I like this point of view, that degrees aren’t (usually) really about learning about historical philosophy and biology and intermediate German, but rather about paying to get some experience and to communicate to people that don’t know you already that you are a contributing member of society and that it’s ok for them to take a chance on you.

laureth's avatar

@Aethelflaed – Those subjects may seem like nonsense when you think about what’s needed in the “real world,” but they also teach you how to think, which is needed. Algebra, for example, teaches you to solve problems in a systematic, step-by-step fashion. German can teach you about languages other than German. You might not find a direct 1:1 ratio between the classes taken and job skills needed, but all together, they make a more competent person. Any employer worth his salt, who wants good employees, ought to want that also. Some companies, however, simply want drones and worker bees who obey without question.

jerv's avatar

@laureth What of those things learned elsewhere though? I may not have a degree, but that doesn’t mean that the Naval Nuclear Propulsion program didn’t teach me a few things. If I returned to school, I would not need any math classes; my schooling have me that many math credits! You really have no idea of knowing what people know, only about their ability and willingness to pay tuition. Many graduate college still unable to think while us non-degree holders may beat them across the board based on unofficial education.
I have yet to see education trump experience, but I have seen many college kids fuck things up because they thought they knew better.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@laureth True, but they teach you those things whether you pay several thousand in tuition, or 30 bucks for the textbook and learn it on your own. The reason to pay is to get the degree, the piece of paper that will vouch for you. I doubt if college degrees didn’t have the job-getting benefits they do, there’d be a whole lot of people saying that it was totally worth it to get themselves so far into debt to then not apply their knowledge of the Holy Roman Empire and deconstruction techniques to their customer service job at a phone company.

laureth's avatar

I’m not saying it’s impossible to learn things elsewhere. It’s highly possible. But it’s easier to get third-party confirmation that you went through the motions when it comes from an accredited school. I’d also like to say that job experience counts just as much, but I’m with @YoBob on this one.

jerv's avatar

@laureth It is easy to confirm that someone actually knows what a piece of paper says they do? Or are you merely stating that people erroneously place their faith in paper and thus beleive that said degree was earned by actually learning and retaining knowledge as opposed to merely paying tuition?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@laureth I’m actually agreeing with you, that the third-party confirmation is important and that’s why you pay for the degree.

laureth's avatar

@jerv – I’m saying that people believe a Big Educational Organization that says you showed up, jumped through the right hoops, and received whatever documentation that says you finished successfully, more easily than they believe $Job_Applicant saying, “Yeah, I’m really great and I know a lot.” Because they’ll all say that.

jerv's avatar

@laureth I agree. I merely wish that there really were a more direct correlation between knowledge and documentation. Personally, I feel that someone who has actually held a particular position (or a closely related one) has demonstrated that they have the required knowledge, but that’s just me.

laureth's avatar

You’‘d think. But my husband can’t get similar jobs to the one he spent 10 years doing, because he doesn’t have a degree in the field.

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