/ Asked by Michael
Why do 99 percent of employers always want potential employee's to have a associates degree or higher for a job? I want a job as a safety supervisor or manager. I've been on safety committee for years, did audits etc. Why is it people like me that couldn't afford college but work hard and learn on the job don't have a chance? And what should I do to get noticed or hired without a degree?
Answered by Ashlyn, Hiring Expert at Worthington Industries, on Monday, August 22, 2016
This is a great question. A lot of times, there are requirements for positions that can be obtained through a college degree or with a technical certification. However, depending on the type of industry you are in, a degree is not always necessary. Many times in manufacturing environments, employers (hiring managers) look for someone who has started on the shop floor, works hard, and continues to better as the years progress, all while looking for additional opportunities and more responsibility. Employers often times help with tuition reimbursement for those dedicated employees. I would check with your employer to see how you can advance to the next position; are there training classes through the employer? is there a certain certification you need? do they help with tuition reimbursement in order for you to get a degree based on next position requirements? I would recommend continuing to work hard, asking questions about how you can advance, and letting it be known that you are ready to take the next step in your career.

Best of luck! 

Answered by Tom, Hiring Expert at VF Corporation, on Friday, September 2, 2016
Sorry to read about your challenges here.  Your experience is not uncommon, but I can also share with you that there are many employers who don't have such requirements.  I've been with several employers in my career and know of many others where members of the most senior leadership team and even CEOs who do not have formal degrees.  Outside of very specialized jobs that essentially require degrees by default (ex. doctors, lawyers, etc.) there are generally two reasons employers have the degree requirement: 1) the employer assumes a certain amount of skill, knowledge, discipline, and work ethic just because one pursued and obtained the degree 2) the employer gets a high volume of candidates for their jobs and having a degree or not, is an easy knockout...if I have plenty of candidates, I'd rather select one with a degree than not.  For what it's worth, I don't agree strongly with either one, but it is often the reality.
So what can you do?  Well, most labor markets have shifted where there are less and less qualified candidates for jobs, so employers are being forced to reconsider there requirements, including education.  Having the degree will become less important than having the actual knowledge and skill, regardless of where it comes from.  Additionally, as you noted, a formal education just keeps getting more and more expensive, there is already not enough graduates to meet the demand and that should continue.  Keep working hard and learning on the job.  Take advantage of any and all on the job training you can get and consider obtaining certifications that are often more important than a degree.  For example, I am fairly certain that there are many safety certifications one can get that are not taught in a 2-yr or 4-yr college and don't require a degree to obtain.  Additionally, continue to focus on gaining more and more experience both within the scope of your current job and outside of it.  Volunteer for project teams, participate in company events, volunteer in the community, etc. these are all experiences that will help you get noticed by your current employer and/or experiences you can talk to a future employer about.
Best of luck!

Answered by Nell, Hiring Expert at Pitney Bowes, on Friday, September 2, 2016
Hi There! I can understand your frustration! Many companies use a college degree as a way to filter for talent. You are lucky in the fact that you have many years of experience on a safety committee. That will help you out by a long run. Many companies will waive the degree requirement if you have direct relevant experience. I would recommend thinking about certificates. There are many certificates that will make you stand out, perhaps and OSHA Cert or a CPR/Red Cross certification. You may also consider obtaining your associate degree. Many companies have tuition reimbursement programs to help their employees gain and education to meet the qualifications that they have outlined for their leadership positions. I wish you all the best in your career path!
Answered by Monica, Hiring Expert at HP Enterprise, on Tuesday, September 13, 2016
I think to answer your question, education has become a huge trend. Things are getting more and more competitive so someone with a degree looks better for an employer rather than someone not. I do understand that the generation before the current one is completely different, because people got by without an education, by simply knowing someone to gain an opportunity or promotion. Why don't you ask the employer that you are trying to get the job from to see what their opinion is on this? From my experience, becoming a manager anywhere does require a degree. Especially when it comes to safety, I think with people's life on the line, they want someone who may have more of an education than solely experience. I'm sorry you have to go through this type of situation, and I hope to answer your question. 
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