Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

Too Overeducated for the Job Market?

2012-05-29 18:16:47

I was having a chat last night with a friend of mine, talking about her lovely, talented but sometimes unrealistic adult daughter. Who is just finishing up her Master's degree, and thinking of getting a Ph. D. I stunned my friend by saying, "I thought you said she wants to get a job? Why is she getting her PhD"?

So here is the truth of the matter: unless you are going into a research field or teaching at the University level, a PhD is often overkill and you will have a hard time finding a job. And when I say "research" I mean R & D for a product company (including software, pharma, aerospace etc.), the government, or... a university. The same conversation happened later in the evening with another set of friends; one of them had a sibling that was having a hard time finding a job as a teacher - his Master's in Education was *barring* his entry into the public school teaching sector. (Exception - if you have have a math/science degree you are highly employable with that M Ed.)

The reason for this? Purely economic: the more advanced the education, the more a candidate (rightfully) expects to be paid. And although the market is picking up, with very few exceptions organizations are looking for a balance of education and experience. There are a few exceptions. Getting an MBA is rarely a bad idea, and an even better idea if you are doing it after having a few years of industry experience under your belt. But keep in mind that the more people that receive MBA's, the less valuable a commodity it becomes, and the less it is worth in terms of money on the job. Some fields require advance degrees to become licensed, like social work or law.

And then there are those people that keep getting more and more education or keep changing their majors, or get a double major and triple minor. What does that tell me? Well, it can actually go a couple of ways. If someone keeps changing their major, to me that means they cannot make a commitment, are indecisive, lack focus, and possibly that they are too immature to hire for a job that requires them to concentrate on one main area in a profession. For those students that are obvious overachievers, I fear that they will be lost in jobs that require them to actually structure their own time and problem-solve. Overachievers typically seem to come from backgrounds where they have a lot of structure imposed on them externally, and don't have a lot of time to figure out how to occupy themselves.

So make sure that you aren't over-educating yourself out of a job as you keep on racking up more student loans in the course of becoming more "well rounded". It's possible to be *too* rounded.

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