Some say you must acquire credentials, some say credentials are not required and you can build skills and domain knowledge on your own. It usually depends on your profession – doctors must get a MD and lawyers must get a JD – nevertheless, there are many fields where there is no clear delineation. For example, many IT professionals say you can learn technologies on your own and do not need a degree. (And they back it up by naming thought leaders who did not earn a college degree: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Gabe Newell, and Mark Zuckerberg.[i]) According to Jeffrey Selingo in College (Un) Bound:
Credential creep or inflation is running rampant in many career fields.[ii]
Why are credentials seemingly less important? With the internet, information is accessible (and often free); you can take an online course, watch a video, read content, and search on any subject. And technologies are being adopted so fast, employers are starting to realize it is sometimes easier to train technical skills themselves (rather than relying on college curriculums).
Here are some examples where a college degree is less relevant:
- Major companies (Google and AT&T) are designing a curriculum of MOOCs that replaces the need for a degree. Obtain the certificate and they will hire you. [iii]
- Six year high school program where you get an associate’s degree challenges the need to get a bachelor’s degree. Major companies (like IBM) want to put you on the fast track by hiring you right after you finish one of these high school programs.[iv] They expect to train you in technical skills.
- North Carolina no longer pays their teachers more for a master’s degree.[v] The message is clear. A master’s degree does not necessarily make a better teacher.
Personally speaking, I am a sponge with learning about education, careers, and personal branding. I read blogs, articles, and books and develop many of my own insights – which I express in this blog, social media, etc. I have some credentials – BS in Management Science, and one year of coursework towards a MBA – but I share space with professionals with more credentials or ones that relate more precisely to a discipline. Does not having credentials discredit the value of my ideas?
[ii] Jeffrey J. Selingo, College (Un) Bound (Boston: New Harvet, 2013).
[iii] Douglas Belkin and Caroline Porter, “Job Market Embraces Massive Online Courses”, WSJ September 26, 2013.
[iv] Al Baker, “Obama, at Brooklyn School, Pushes Education Agenda”, NY Times, October 25, 2013.
[v] Stephanie Banchero. “Pay Raises for Teachers With Master’s Under Fire,” WSJ, October 7, 2013.
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