How Employers View an Associate’s Degree | Higher Education
Community college can be a cheaper, less time-consuming way for students to graduate. But in a competitive job market, cheaper isn’t necessarily better.
Hiring managers say it’s imperative that students follow and understand the trends and requirements of the desired career field in order to determine whether their job will require a higher level of certification.
Nursing is a well-known example of how the degree requirements for certain fields can change. Historically, an associate’s degree had been accepted as sufficient for many nursing jobs.
But now, a growing number of hospitals are employing nurses with at least a four-year degree to maintain magnet status, a designation used to denote quality service, from the American Nurses Association, according to recruiters. This can make it more difficult for nurses who only have an associate’s degree to find employment or advance in their field.
Community college graduates also have to contend with the perceptions of hiring managers. Most people in leadership roles have at least a traditional bachelor’s degree and are looking for candidates for full-time positions with similar and familiar experience, says Robert Jordan, head of IT executive recruitment at Intersect Group, a national team of technology, finance and accounting. and recruitment firm.
Hiring managers can also look at training to judge work ethics and the ability to determine whether a candidate will fit well with the company’s culture.
“They are looking to maximize and optimize the caliber and what we like to call the pedigree of their teams, so they look to that educational component as a benchmark or indicator,” Jordan said.
This means that employers may feel more comfortable hiring full-time employees from well-known institutions, even when other applicants may have sufficient work experience. But it depends on the type of position you are looking for and possibly the age of the hiring manager.
“It’s sort of a way of thinking older than it is today,” says Matt Brosseau, CIO at Instant Technology, a hiring and recruiting company. Xers, the few millennials who have made their way into management tend to focus on portfolios, capabilities, skill sets rather than college education. ”
There are still many areas where an associate’s degree may be sufficient. Students in highly specialized fields or those learning a specific trade may find more opportunities than their counterparts in common jobs that attract a lot of applicants.
Deanna Harper, 41, made over $ 100,000 last year working as an oil refinery operator with coking machines for Shell, after earning an associate’s degree in process technology in 2012 from the San Jacinto Community College in Texas.
Harper says she faced some opposition in the job market as a woman in such a physical and labor-intensive field, but her degree helped her land a job without them. five years of experience that she would have needed otherwise. She was hired by Shell after working there as an intern during her studies.
Technology is another area where a specialized skill set can eclipse a degree. As technology and trends continue to evolve, students who have the ability to develop new and unusual products have an advantage.
For example, in tech, basic jobs like a .NET application developer at a large corporation would likely require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, Brosseau says. But the candidates who apply Small organizations with skills that might not be taught in courses, such as mobile app development skills, can likely find a job without a four-year degree.
“When you’re competing in a very saturated market, like some of the more popular development languages, having a bachelor’s degree is important and arguably even necessary. So that when you start to specialize in some of the more unique or niche abilities, the less, ”he says.
Getting a job is just a problem. Employees should also consider advancing their careers.
“Students who have an associate’s degree can benefit from companies that work directly with community colleges to hire, or companies that provide tuition assistance,” says Jay Titus, director of academic services EdAssist, a company that helps 1000 fortune companies and health care systems are maximizing their tuition assistance programs.
Titus encourages its employees to take advantage of the training opportunities offered by a company, to help them advance in their careers.
This may include the ability to take certification courses or return to school.
An associate’s degree can provide students with many opportunities, but community college graduates should always be aware that perceptions about the quality of an associate’s degree still exist.
“It’s just a truth in the world we live in,” says Brosseau of Instant Technology.
“There will be people who will see your lack of a bachelor’s degree as a gap,” he says.