Sunday, December 19, 2010

Do I need a college degree?

People ask me one question all the time: "don't I need a college degree to take a foreign job?"

the diploma
Will you need this?
Photo by Josh Parrish
The answer is a short and frustrating, "it depends". If you're a medical doctor, then yes, you'll need a degree. In fact,you may need to get accredited/retrained in your target country. For many occupations, though, I see legalese which invariably says something like "a 4 year university degree or equivalent." What's equivalent? I typically see "years of experience" being substituted. This appears to be particularly true in the IT industry as so many people are self-taught.

As a case in point, I have no Bachelor's degree. I have an Associate's Degree and when I mention this, Europeans typically ask "what's that?" As far as I can tell, this two-year degree is primarily an American thing, though other countries are slowly adopting equivalents of it.

The general rule of thumb seems to be that if you need a degree in your home country, you'll need it in another country. My advice? While you're working on getting your first overseas job, get your Bachelors also. For many US jobs, any four year college degree is needed. For many foreign jobs, they'll be looking at what you have a four year degree in. Only research can tell you what your individual situation will entail.