Should I Go Back to School or Gain Work Experience?

Thoughtful young black woman sitting in cafe with textbook in hand and thinking about plans for future

When you want to advance your career, acquiring new skills and boosting your expertise are often essential. However, deciding whether heading back to school or getting more work experience is the better approach isn’t always easy since both options have merit.

Thankfully, there are signs that could let you know if one approach is better for your situation. If you’re trying to choose between heading back to school or getting additional work experience, here’s what you need to do.

Reflect on Your Career Goals

First, you need to take some time to reflect on your career goals. If you aren’t sure where you want to go, then determining whether furthering your education or getting more experience is best is incredibly challenging. By having a target in mind, you’ll have an easier time crafting a plan to get to your chosen destination.

Spend time envisioning your ideal job or career path. Figure out what kinds of skills you’d like to use, the environment you want to work in, and anything else that defines a role as your dream job. That way, you can consider all of the factors, making it easier to create a roadmap for success.

Review the Requirements for Your Dream Job

Once you know your career goals, it’s time to review typical requirements for jobs like the one you envisioned. Head online and search for job descriptions and current openings that align with that role as a starting point. Then, take a close look at the must-have skills and experience list.

Don’t just look at a single job description or vacancy announcement. Instead, take a look at several. That way, you can see what requirements they have in common, giving you a clearer idea of what’s usually sought by employers filling that position.

In some cases, this exercise alone will let you know what you need to do. For example, if every job description and ad states that a specific college degree or certification is a must-have, then going back to school to acquire it could be essential. Otherwise, you may struggle to qualify for the role even if you have ample relevant experience.

On the other side, if the vacancy announcements tend to favor demonstrations of past success using specific skills, then getting more work experience could be the better choice. Similarly, if there’s no mention of an educational requirement, that’s a sign that the employer may favor experience over academic knowledge.

In cases where there isn’t a clear consensus about what you need to bring to the table to secure your dream role, then either approach could be viable. As a result, you may be able to choose a path based on what you prefer.

Ultimately, going back to school and gaining more experience both have merit. However, by factoring in the requirements typically associated with your dream job, you’ll have an easier time deciding which path is best for your career.

If you’d like to learn more or are ready for a new job opportunity, the team at GSG Talent Solutions wants to hear from you. Contact us today.


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