Skills vs Credentials

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Skills vs. Credentials

What’s More Valuable: Hands-On Experience or a Formal Degree?

Most of us are raised to believe that earning a college degree is our key to unlocking a rewarding, lifelong career. But as the cost of attending college continues to rise and innovation in industry outpaces the relevance of academia, some are reconsidering the question: Is hands-on experience more valuable than a formal degree?

Our graphic follows two paths — one focused on skills and the other on credentials — while paying special attention to the pros and cons of each.

While the results are far from conclusive, there are notable trends in skills vs. credentials. Choosing a formal degree will be more expensive, though it also comes with more certain employment, while focusing on hands-on experience can lead to more particular opportunities, as well as freedom from student debt. But regardless of the chosen course, continuing education is the only path to career advancement.

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