Qualifications Or Experience: What’s More Important?

When it comes to applying for a job, one question that is always on people’s minds is whether it’s more important to have qualifications or experience.

As you can appreciate, both have their advantages in the job market. So, which is more valuable out of the two? Or are they both equally as important as each other?

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Why is there still a debate on that subject?

The reality of the employment world is that some employers prefer qualifications over experience, and vice-versa! It often depends on the role being applied for, and the employer. 

There are some jobs, for example, that are unskilled and so previous experience is preferable, and there is no need to be qualified in the field. Others may require candidates to be a recent university graduate or have received qualifications from a recognised organisation.

Does it make sense to have qualifications first?

In a nutshell, yes. When it comes to applying for skilled jobs, many recruiters will request that candidates applying for the role have relevant qualifications. For example, a job managing a selection of retail stores might demand a Cert 3 in Business or a university degree. And because the majority of employers want people with the right qualifications, industry experience alone won’t help your cause.

Some people may argue that having commercial experience in a particular role or niche is better than having “a piece of paper” that says you are qualified to do a job. But, there are many reasons why it makes sense to have the right qualifications.

First of all, there are more skilled jobs today than there were say 50 years ago. There are also fewer roles that solely involve manual, unskilled labour. Secondly, having qualifications means more opportunities are open to you in whatever you wish to do with your life. Thirdly, education does change you in that you have a greater depth of understanding in a field than commercial experience will ever provide.

Is experience no longer relevant in the skilled jobs market?

From reading the above section, it’s easy for someone to conclude that the only way you’ll get ahead in life is to have relevant qualifications and degrees. But, experience is still relevant, whether you’re applying for a scientist role or a cleaning job. The thing is if you’re only about to enter the jobs market, how can you gain any experience if you’ve only got a qualification?

You might not know it, but many qualification courses are often coupled with real-world commercial experience. That is, you get to spend some time carrying out the work or being out on the field as well as studying. Such courses that lead to qualifications carry a lot of weight when applying for one’s first job in the industry.

Final thoughts

Both qualifications and experience are useful when it comes to gaining employment. But, to get on the career ladder, it makes sense to have a relevant qualification. That’s because of the increasing numbers of employers requiring candidates to have a degree or similar.