Friday, January 8, 2010

Does a College Degree Make it Easier to Get Work?

Yesterday I was listening to the radio while driving my kids to school. The show was discussing the rampant unemployment in the city of Atlanta – a big change from 10 yrs ago when you could quit a job and find a new one within only a day or so. He stated that Atlanta ranks number five for U.S. cities with the most jobs lost. Los Angeles is ranked number one.

The radio host asked the listening audience whether or not a college degree, or other advanced degree, gets applicants hired more quickly in this economy. Many called in to say that’s not the case.

This reminds me of a common discussion I’ve seen on freelance forums: do writers with college degrees (or other advanced degrees) get more work than writers without?

I have a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts, but I know quite a few writers without degrees who are doing quite well for themselves. Sure, I’ve gotten a couple of gigs off job boards that specifically asked that college degreed writers bid, but I think that when it comes down to it, experience and skill are what matter most. That’s why most clients want to see samples of your writing or ask for references to determine whether or not you can actually deliver compelling content.

In my opinion the lack of an advanced degree has nothing to do with freelance writing success. The ability to write, a willingness to work hard and deliver value to clients matters much more. What’s your experience?


Lori said...

Degrees mean nothing - talent and skill are what matter most. I have a BA as well, Kim, and I don't think it's helped me one iota to have it - not in freelancing. In a 9-to-5 writing job, yes, it's probably now a requirement, but when I first got my editor gig, I didn't have one.

Kimberly Ben said...

As you can tell from my post I feel the same way, Lori. I wonder why it matters so much in the brick & mortar world?

allena said...

Many freelance writing jobs ask for a BA (? are you guys not looking at the same lists as I am?). I would assume those jobs have less applicants, too, just as far as thinning the herd.

Kimberly Ben said...

Hi Allena,

Every now and then I notice a few ads on job boards seeking writers with a Bachelor's degree (I actually came across two this week) and I'm not quite sure why they felt it was so important since one particular ad also requested a resume and published samples.

Lori was mentioning that in her experience 9 to 5 writing jobs tend to require writers have degrees more often.

Hmmm, but you might be right - maybe asking for degreed writers is a strategy to keep from receiving a glut of responses; who knows...

Lori said...

Allena, it's rare I look at job listings. I market directly to my potential clients. In those cases, no. No degree required. All they want is experience in their industries.

Kim, I'm not sure why it matters. I've seen non-degreed people with tons of experience and much more savvy than their degreed counterparts. I think it may be as Allena suggested - a tool to thin the herd.

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