I have this debate every day. Every time I vet a job with one of my clients, I always ask what exactly “degree preferred” means on the job description. Does that actually mean the degree is required? Often it does, but there are still many companies and hiring managers who want someone who knows what they’re doing because they’ve done it.
I will tell you as someone who sources people for a living, if I could recommend a master combo, it would be a bachelor’s degree in your field with an appropriate amount of real-world experience. My ideal candidate for well over 50 percent of my salaried jobs is someone with a BS and 5+ years of experience in their field.
As a recruiter, people often ask me for career advice. My friends and family members ask me if they are wasting money, or if their children might be if they go take out a bunch of student loans to go to college.
A degree vs on the job training
I have placed new graduates with degrees in chemical engineering with base salaries above $70,000 annually and know their career paths have them on pace for $110-120k if they can continue to develop their skills over the next decade or so.
I know people who went to trade school with paid on the job training and are earning similar salaries. My advice is this, and it borrows from a time when my hands were a little dirtier from work: measure twice and cut once. Certainly, do the same thing with your career.
What is the degree you’re pursuing? What type of job do you hope to get? Run some searches for job postings and see if those are the types of degrees they are hiring. My experience shows that Chemical, Mechanical, and Electrical Engineering degrees, when pursuing a career in manufacturing, can help you achieve great career success. Essentially, before you rush into anything, spend some time researching potential career paths you want to pursue. Sometimes, a four-year degree will help with that transition. Other times, it may not be necessary. It just depends on what you want to do and where you want to go. But I will say this, there is a definite skills gap across the country, and employers are desperate for skilled trade labor.
Regardless, there are jobs galore in today’s market
So, if you have your degree or some experience under your belt, the companies I work with are hiring. If you are looking for a move or need to work with a recruiter who understands the kind of talent you’re working with, consider partnering with my team at Johnson Search Group. The market is tight, and we have dozens of exciting job opportunities available. Let’s work together to put your hard-earned experience to work.