Experience vs. a Degree: What Matters Most in Tech

When you want to further your IT career, you may wonder whether additional experience or a new degree will help you take the next step faster. It’s a common debate among professionals. At times, even hiring managers disagree about which is most valuable.

Ultimately, deciding which approach is best for you can seem tricky. However, by considering your professional goals and where you are along your career path, you can choose the right direction for you. If you’re wondering, between experience and a degree, what matters most in tech, here’s what you need to know.

What a Tech Degree Can Do for Your Career

From a career perspective, a degree is usually a foundation. It’s a formal pathway to hone specific skills related to a field, though usually in a broader sense than you find with a tech certification.

If you’re looking to launch a tech career, a degree can be a way to get your foot in the door. It shows that you, at a minimum, have the core skills necessary to work in a related role. Additionally, a degree demonstrates your dedication, willingness to learn, and drive, which can work in your favor.

However, which degree you need can vary. In some cases, an Associate’s degree is enough to get started. This is especially true if your open to using a help desk-style role as a starting point for your career, as a two-year program may be enough to go that route.

Otherwise, a Bachelor’s degree is likely your best bet. That can open doors to a range of specialized roles, including those related to networking, cybersecurity, data analytics, and more.

In many cases, a Master’s or Doctorate is often unnecessary. Even you have your sights set on a leadership role, you may be able to get there without more schooling.

Most tech professionals who land management positions don’t secure those opportunities through formal education alone. While an advanced degree could separate you from the pack after your career is well underway, it typically won’t be a must-have to qualify.

What Experience Can Do for Your Career

When you have relevant experience, you’re showcasing your on-the-job capabilities. You aren’t merely claiming that you have the right knowledge or expertise to handle various responsibilities; you have proof.

Plus, certain skills are more often developed while working in a position. For example, high-level troubleshooting expertise is commonly built over time, not just in a classroom.

While having specific foundational knowledge that you typically earn through education might be a necessity, experience shows that you can actually apply what you’ve learned. That does make a difference, particularly for any position beyond an entry-level one.

Experience vs. Degree: Which Matters Most in Tech?

In most cases, which matters most, experience or a degree, depends on the tech position you want to land. If you are trying to start a tech career, then education can be a great way to get that ball rolling. You’ll gain foundational skills that can help you enter the field, making it a reasonable approach.

However, if you are already in an IT position and simply want to advance, then what matters more could depend on your specialty, existing education, and experience level. If you already have a Bachelor’s degree, experience or certifications may be a better option. However, if you don’t have any formal education, getting a degree could make you eligible for opportunities that consider a degree a must-have.

Ultimately, you need to examine your preferred career path. Do some research about common requirements for candidates, and use those as a guide. If what you’re finding shows that a degree is the key to qualifying, then that could be the right route. If not, then experience is potentially a better bet.

Are You Looking for New Tech Job Opportunities?

Whether you have a degree, snagged some certifications, or boosted your experience, landing a new tech job could be an excellent way to further your career. If you’re looking for opportunities that will allow you to move forward, Selectek can help. Contact us today.