While graduating college is important, the majority of employees say it takes more than a diploma to land a job and advance a career, new research shows.
Even though 82% of U.S. college graduates say their level of education has helped their careers, more than 70% say specialized training to acquire specific skills is more valuable in the workplace than a degree, according to a study from the online career site Glassdoor.
Overall, more than 60% of the employees surveyed said learning new skills or receiving special training is most important in advancing their career and earning a bigger paycheck, compared to just 45% who said the same about receiving a college or graduate degree.
Employees also pointed to other important factors in moving their careers forward, including transitioning careers, looking for a new job or company, and networking with professionals.
The study found that employees say their college majors don't carry much weight with employers. Nearly half of the college graduates surveyed said their specific degree is not very relevant to the job they do today, while 80% admitted they've never been asked about their college grade point average during a job interview.
In the survey, nearly three-quarters of employees said their employers value work experience and related skills more than education when evaluating job candidates, with 53% saying a graduate degree is no longer necessary to secure a high-paying job.
Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor career and workplace expert, said employers still value education as one piece of the puzzle for a successful career, but there has been a shift. Now, most employees say gaining the latest skills relevant to the job and industry will more effectively advance their careers. Employees feel that's what employers truly want, to really help move business forward, he said.
"For any employee looking to earn a bigger salary or move up the corporate ladder, they should do their research on how their industry is evolving, including identifying specific skill sets that are in demand," Rueff said in a statement. "Going back to school may be one way to learn and improve, but there are also non-traditional ways, such as certificate programs, boot camps, webinars, online non-degreed courses, conferences and more."
The study was based on surveys of 2,059 U.S. adults over the age of 18 who were employed full or part time.