Young Veteran's Special: Do I Really Need A College Degree?

by Randall Scasny

To begin a quick and successful job search, young veterans must do four things in the following order: (1) they must make a realistic review of their job skills; (2) determine what kind of jobs they are qualified for based on employer hiring standards; (3) write their resume targeted to specific jobs and, finally, (4) apply for jobs.

In this article, I will cover the second step in your career transition: the education issue. To do this, I will cover two points:

  • How Employers Value Education
  • What Kind of Education Do You Need

Recently, I was working with a young Army veteran who was seeking a new job. He had about 40 college credit hours and he was bored with his present job. He wanted a better job, essentially, a promotion.

When I brought up the subject of education, he told me, "I don't have time for that right now. Maybe in a year."

Many entry level jobs do not require college degrees. For some jobs, you may only need to get a certification, which may only entail passing a certification test.

A lack of a college degree becomes an issue in situations where the young veteran wants to advance, like the Army veteran I mentioned above. He told me he did not have time for college but still wanted to get a promotion!

The value of education in career advancement has been researched widely. So, I won't bore you with all the data that supports this finding. They all say that if you have a college degree, you will earn about $1 million more over the course of your lifetime. Why?

Well, that's pretty simple: they earn more money because they are qualified for higher paying jobs to begin with AND they are the ones getting the promotions!

A few years ago I read an article that stated about 30 percent of current Boeing employees had master degrees or were working on a masters degree. I think that says something about how at least one defense contractor, who hires a lot of military veterans, values education.

But let's look at some "live" examples:

Operations Supervisor: The employer states: Responsible for warehouse personnel which includes packers, pickers, sorters, loaders, receivers, drivers, quality control, dispatchers, routing and re-packing. Bachelors Degree or 3-5 year related experience and or training. Strong organizational and planning skills. Effective communication skills, both written and verbal.

Logistics Manager: The employer desires: Bachelor's Degree preferred or at least 5+ years equivalent experience in Logistics. Proven ability to implement and manage inventory control processes required.

Human Resources Supervisor: The employer requires: BA or BS degree in Human Resources Management, Organizational Development or I/O Psychology or related discipline. MA preferred. At least 4 years of progressive experience as a HR generalist including plant employee relations and advocacy, change leadership/management, performance management, staffing and selection, TPM (or related discipline) and organizational development.

I think these job ads speak for themselves. All require college degrees. With facts like these, can you afford NOT to get a college degree? I couldn't; I have 2 college degrees.