The Results Are In: How Has Your Education Affected Your Career Path?

poll_education_webIn a recent poll, we asked if your education has had an impact on your current job or career path. Our results found that the majority of Movin’ On Up readers don’t feel their education has played a defining role in their career path. In fact, 41% of respondents said that their education hasn’t been a factor, while only 22% percent agreed that “I wouldn’t be where I am today without my degree.” Nearly 20% of readers stated their degree “helped land my first job, but really hasn’t been a factor since.” And, 11% of respondents answered “Other,” with mixed opinions including:

  • “It has helped as far as showing potential employers commitment and potential.”
  • “You need experience plus a degree.”
  • “My undergraduate degree was the stepping stone to my law degree.”
  • “Nothing but four pieces of paper on the wall.”
  • “My lack of experience has kept me from getting an ideal job.”

Finally, 5% of readers answered “I’m still in school, so we’ll see!”

Education vs Experience
Based on our results, many jobseekers don’t think a typical path of higher education has helped their job search. Furthermore, respondents seem to believe that experience is worth the same as, if not more than, education. But, the statistics on the subject are mixed.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the unemployment rate for young adults in 2013 was 29.2% for those who did not complete high school, 17.5% for those whose highest level of education was high school, and 12.2% for those with some college education. For those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, unemployment was 7%.

Yet, in a recent edition of the “America Employed” survey of 115 Express Employment Professionals franchises across the nation, respondents were asked to rate various traits on how important they are when evaluating job applicants based on a scale of one to five. The results showed that education received the lowest amount of points at 2.67. Experience, on the other hand, received a vote of 3.73.

Diverse Opportunities
Whether or not education plays the most important role in your likelihood of getting hired, there’s no doubt that taking opportunities to learn and grow in your career is a beneficial piece of the puzzle. And, you don’t necessarily have to follow a typical four-year degree path. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 14 of the 20 fastest-growing occupations in America require an associate’s degree or less. Career Technical Education provides the skills and training needed for many career, including welding, physical therapy, and mechanics, and is an alternative to a university. If you’re hoping to further your education without following a four-year plan, check out this article for more information.

What do you think is more important – education or experience? Let us know in the comments section below.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.


  1. Pingback: The Results Are In: How Has Your Education Affected Your Career Path? | Express Pros Manchester

  2. julie

    Education – help or hindrance? Is a burning question. In my case, I earned my post graduate degree while working full time and graduated 6 months early. Unemployed? Absolutely! I feel like my degrees were outdated before the ink dried on my diploma! Every time I encounter a “professional” person…I always approach the situation as an opportunity. “What does that person have that I do not?” Nothing in fact is different between the person(s) that I meet and me. Why I unemployed? The only offers on the table are of course, truck drivers and perhaps a file clerk. Really? I had more responsibility in high school working as an assistant merchandiser at a national chain department store. Your resume, undoubtedly, is the first chance to make an impression. Unfortunately, this too has become automated. Lacking is the feedback as to why you were not considered for the position. The simple, “We are sorry but you are over qualified or under qualified” response letters are gone. Reality is more times than not, your resume was shredded and never even made it to the cut to be reviewed by an actual person. This is where a job seeker has to learn to stay out of the shredder. Titles are overrated. One organization may call a “file clerk” a “document specialist” while the reality is the same…files, file cabinets, knowledge of the alphabet are the only skills that would land one the job. I would like to learn how to stay out of the shredder and into a position that has familiar footing with room for advancement. Anyone with me?

  3. Mary Pennington

    I was groomed to go to college. There was never a doubt. Even after I dropped out of college at 18 to marry and have kids, college was always on the table. Why? Because I was taught that college was the only way to make a good living without working yourself to death. So at age 25, with four small children, I pursued the dream. In 5 1/2 years and one more child later, I achieved the goal – an expensive piece of paper. Though I got a job requiring my degree about six months later, it definitely didn’t offer great pay. I worked within the field for nine years but it never paid off. I have gotten two other jobs that required the expensive piece of paper but the work had nothing to do with the degree. Neither of those jobs offered stellar pay or benefits.

    I sometimes wonder where I would be if I had taken an entry level position with a company and worked my way up. I would have done that if I had been encouraged to and I would have been successful, too. I’ll never know.

    1. julie

      Mary, specifically directed to you and people who share the same or similar experiences, I see your journey alone as a success. Look at yourself and your children. You are definitely a role model to your children without mention to your work ethic. Clearly, you would be an asset to ANY employer who would just meet you. You have made my point…does the “shredder” recognize the dedication and strength you possess? No! But it will note the “Break in employment” and a job title that doesn’t “Match” those of the company for whom it is reviewing resumes…buzzzz you get the shredder! When in fact, they have passed up an employee deserving of every penny paid in exchange for your experience and education. Again, I ask….How do you avoid the shredder?

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