Social Question

Esedess's avatar

In regards to finding a good, good paying, job, is it better to have a degree or experience?

Asked by Esedess (3298points) January 19th, 2012

…and don’t say “both”.

OF COURSE both is better than one, but that’s not the question.

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15 Answers

marinelife's avatar


Seaofclouds's avatar

Depends on the field you are going into, usually it’s experience, but more and more nursing positions are looking for RNs instead of LPNs (regardless of their nursing experience) and more and more are looking for RNs with a BSN instead of an ADN (also regardless of their nursing experience).

Bellatrix's avatar

I agree with @Seaofclouds. While I think hands-on experience is essential, you won’t get some jobs without a degree these days. So it really depends on what you want to do. I have always thought, a degree is a starting point. Once you have the paper, you need to go out and earn your keep by gaining on-the-job experience.

DaphneT's avatar

If you are looking for anything that pays, work experience is better. If you are looking in a specific field have the degree.

jerv's avatar

The field I am in (CNC Machinist), there really isn’t much schooling for anyways, but there is no way you will get $30–75/hr without at least 10 years experience.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Some positions you MUST have a college degree. Experience will get you hired but to be considered you got to have a “sheep skin”.

Charles's avatar

In regards to finding a good, good paying, job, is it better to have a degree or experience?

What do “good” and “good paying”, and “better” mean?

Earthgirl's avatar

With a degree I think it is easier to get your foot in the door. For some jobs without the degree it is almost impossible to get in, I don’t care how much experience you may have. Companies don’t like to take chances so the degree confers a sort of minimum standard. I’m not saying it’s right to judge this way, only that I find this to be true.

In creative fields there is a lot more leeway. And if you can demonstrate your aptitude and accomplishments, degree and years of experience become irrelevant. Here’s the rub though. How exactly can you demonstrate all this in a convincing way? I am in a creative field and the way you show this is by your portfolio of work. Sometimes with little experience and no degree one can talk one’s way into a good job. I don’t think you’d get the highest pay up front, but sometimes you could be hired with the proviso that once you have passed a trial period and proven yourself you could get an increase.

In all, I think there are too many variables to make a statement one way or another. I think quite a bit depends on the type of job you are applying for and the company you are dealing with.

john65pennington's avatar

Experience 100%.

I worked at this new FM commercial radio station. The station had two engineers that keep the station and equipment on the air.

The FM transmitter went off the air. The younger, unexperienced engineer, was called first. He could not determine the problem. The older, experienced engineer , was called and put the station back on the air within 10 minutes.

In this situtation, the experienced engineer was the hero. The younger engineer lacked the experience to recognize the transmitter problem.

He received his 1st Class Engineering Degree online with no on-hands training and it was apparent..

There is nothing better than firs-hand experience.

mattbrowne's avatar


For people age 22 to 30 it’s the degree.

For people age 30 and older it’s the experience.

Esedess's avatar

@jerv Machining can be pretty fun. I did it for about 7 years (sheet metal, and then bullet proof armor). What kind of machining do you do?

Esedess's avatar


What do “good” and “good paying”, and “better” mean?

“good”: It means something different to everyone. But I guess, generally speaking, a job you can enjoy; or one that at least compensates you adequately to counter a lack of enjoyment. Also “good” jobs, by my definition, usually entail something that provides you insurance and other benefits (401k/profit sharing/sufficient amount of paid holidays/sick time). A job you can be proud of.

“good paying”: Sufficient pay to live a life of reasonable comfort and interest by one’s own standards. In short, if you can afford all your expenses most of the time, and still have some left over. If you can afford to live on your own, without roommates (not that you must, but that you CAN). If you could afford a family. In California, I would say about $50,000 a year or higher is a reasonable marker for these things (give or take depending on lifestyle).

“better”: If you were a hiring manager for a job that stated “BA/BS required” on the job listing, and you only received 2 resumes, one of which outlined 5 years of applicable experience but no degree, and the other of which outlined education culminating in a degree, but no work experience, which would you see more fit for the job?

(...and I say 5 years instead of 4 because most people don’t finish college in 4 years; and those who don’t go to college are also usually the same people who are in the job market around 10th grade (6 years prior to when their fellow students who focused solely on school would graduate college, if they did it in 4 years.)

jerv's avatar

@Esedess I work in a casting foundry, and I cut all sorts of parts from a wide range of material; mostly steel, but some brass, aluminum, Inconel 718, and 6–4 Titanium. I stick mostly on the mills since most of the guys in my shop are lathe guys, but I do do both, along with a little tool-and-die/moldmaking.

Esedess's avatar

@jerv That’s cool. I never made it around to the mills or lathes. But I did everything else a sheet metal factory could offer, besides those two. In the end I was was working with CNC punch presses. Years later, when I was looking for the job that eventually landed me machining bullet proof armor, I finally realizing that punch press is a somewhat obscure form of CNC machining. Thinking back, I wish I’d have aimed my sights on the the mill department instead. There’s always work for a good CNC mill/lathe operator. Punch press… Ehh~ not so much.

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