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Employment Challenge: Education Versus Experience

Throughout all Human Resource departments, there is a debate over which is more valuable: experience or education. There are good arguments for either side of this equation. In reality, the answer to which is more valuable depends on what you want to do and where you want to work. As a military spouse, you have access to educational assistance and should take advantage of it. Your spouse’s career is going to impact your own employment so experience might be difficult to acquire.

To get a good job in today’s society, almost everyone needs a degree of some sort. If you are a military spouse and you have only a high school diploma, it is a good idea to take advantage of the educational assistance you can receive from the military and go back to school to get training or degree. Beyond a bachelor’s degree, the argument for higher education becomes a little bit more complicated.

If you spend too much time educating yourself, you will miss out on years of work experience. Some employers really want an employee who has preformed the same or a similar job for many years. They might prefer a job candidate that has an advanced degree, but there's a good chance they might not. For example, if your boss started his own company right out of high school, he might not want to hire anyone with an advanced degree. A degree wasn’t important for him so why should it be important in an employee? This kind of employer is most interested in results and a proven track record. Only work experience will get these things onto your resume.

There is also the cost of advanced degree workers. People with higher degrees generally get paid more and the company or institution you are applying to might not have the budget or want to meet this higher salary standard. They also might not want to employ someone who seems overqualified, thinking that the new employee will get bored quickly once they are trained and leave for another job.

The arguments for hiring a worker with more education and less experience are equally strong. Depending on the job, people with higher degrees are better prepared. You wouldn’t want a doctor that hadn’t been to medical school. Moreover, higher education is geared towards making students into good thinkers. If the company is hiring for a job which will require complex thinking and problem solving abilities, they might prefer someone with a higher education over someone with years of experience.

Another argument for hiring a person with more education over someone with work experience is that the employee might have bad habits he or she learned in his last job. With a person freshly out of school, an employer can mold them into the employee they want rather than having to retrain them. The last argument for hiring education over experience is that it makes the company look more authoritative. For example, a biomedical company or a university wants to employ was many PhDs as it can.

Because you can't know in advance what each employer will favor, it is best to have both education and work experience on your resume. As a military spouse you should sit down with your partner and design a rough education and employment map that is best for both your futures. The military offers both of you many educational and training benefits and if you plan your future properly, you can probably both end up with excellent educations, training and careers.

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