I’m not anti-study by any means. I didn’t go to university myself, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s a valuable option. What I am against, is people studying for the wrong reasons – and it happens more often than you think.

I strongly encourage my clients to think about why they are considering study. If it’s because they NEED the qualification because it is a job or industry requirement OR they’re particularly interested in the topic and they’re studying for the enjoyment factor, then I completely support it. But when I hear of people studying because they think it will help them advance in their job/career or because they think people will take them more seriously, that’s when I see red flags.

Studying because you have imposter syndrome or because you crave external validation is never a good idea. It will be expensive, time consuming and it won’t actually solve the problem. The likelihood is that you’ll feel the same way when you finish.

Links I mentioned in this episode:

16. You don’t need another qualification – Transcript

[00:00:00] Hi, there I’m Bec McFarland the host of the Pop Your Career Podcast. As a career coach, I’m most passionate about helping my clients to discover their own personal flavour of career fulfillment. In this podcast, we are going to be exploring ways that you too can feel more fulfilled by your work. So strap yourself in, get ready for the ride. The tips around here are fast and in abundance.

[00:00:29] Hello, hello. Bec McFarland here, helping you do better and be better in your career. And today I am here to give you a message. And that message is you don’t need another qualification. You just don’t. Let me tell you, I promise you I’m not anti study. I’m not [00:01:00] anti qualifications. Right?

[00:01:02] I didn’t go to uni. Like I don’t have a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree or anything like that. I do have other qualifications. I’ve got a whole bag full of certificates and diplomas and other certifications and things that I’ve studied over the years. And honestly, I probably didn’t need most of them. I think that a lot of the time when we chase qualifications or when we collect qualifications, we are really just doing it for the wrong reasons.

[00:01:30] And this is why sometimes I do come across as being a little bit anti study or anti qualification, because I just hate to see my clients going out and spending thousands of dollars and tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of thousands of dollars studying because of imposter [00:02:00] syndrome.

[00:02:02] It is quite laughable. Right? But it happens all the time. I am going to talk about imposter syndrome in a whole episode of its own. I, I think it’s a really big topic and it’s something that, you know, it’s worth diving into.

[00:02:20] But today I can tell you that a lot of the people that I meet with who are considering study as an option are doing it because of imposter syndrome. They are doing it because they feel like they don’t already have what they need.

[00:02:43] There are some careers out there where qualifications are really important. I would not want somebody operating on me if they did not have a few medical degrees.[00:03:00] I also probably don’t want someone representing me in court if they don’t have a law degree, I think it would actually also be illegal. Correct me if I’m wrong on that.

[00:03:20] but there are a lot of things out there that you just, you don’t need the qualification.

[00:03:30] It’s not a mandatory thing, but yet we do it because we feel as they will be more validated with an additional piece of paper. I just want to say, I’m not talking about the coaching industry. Okay.? I know that there’s a lot of talk online about the fact that the coaching industry is unregulated and how, you know, it’s dangerous because of the fact that there are no qualification requirements and stuff like that.

[00:03:58] And I’m definitely not over [00:04:00] here, like just advocating for people to just go out and be a coach. I don’t think that’s helpful to anyone. I also think that’s a whole other conversation, but I mean, I’m talking about people who are already in leadership, careers, who are already leading teams of people, who are already exceptional leaders feeling as though they need to go and obtain formal qualifications in management or leadership.

[00:04:33] Why?

[00:04:35] I’m talking about people who are already demonstrating the transferable skills required in order to be able to make a career change into an industry where qualifications are not mandatory. But they feel like they have to go and get a piece of paper, just to seal the deal, to make it a more valid move.

[00:04:59] [00:05:00] Why?

[00:05:01] Most of the time these people already have the skills. They already have the experience. Most of the time they’re actually already working in the jobs. But yet they’re convinced that in order to be taken seriously, in order to be successful, they need to have a qualification supporting them or holding them up.

[00:05:23] And the sad state of affairs is that for most people, the extra piece of paper doesn’t necessarily mean another zero or two on the end of your salary. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be taken anymore seriously in the workplace. it doesn’t guarantee you a job. I mean, how many young people are we seeing that are going out and they’re completing their degrees and then finding that they’re not even able to get a role in the industry that they’ve studied in. It’s phenomenal.

[00:05:59] If you are [00:06:00] thinking about studying or furthering your career through some form of professional development, I would just encourage you to ask yourself why you are actually doing it. If you’re doing it because of the fact that you require some kind of validation or external support or approval from somebody else, then I think that’s the wrong reason. If you’re doing it because of the fact that the idea of study really excites you and you’re like, ‘oh my gosh, I can’t wait to learn more about this and I’m really pumped to go ahead and get this degree or qualification’, then I say, go for it. Why not?

[00:06:44] And this is what I mean, I’m not anti study. I’m just anti studying for the wrong reasons. I just want you to think, like, is it actually a mandatory part of the industry that I’m working in? Is it needed? Is it actually going to help me get [00:07:00] ahead or is it just another thing? Is it just another piece of paper that I’ll have in my filing cabinet?

[00:07:07] And I can honestly tell you that I have worked with clients who have achieved the highest possible qualifications in, you know, the most incredible fields that you could ever imagine. And yet still the imposter syndrome is rife. They’re still hiding their degrees. They’re still keeping their degrees hidden away in a filing cabinet or under their bed or somewhere else where they don’t have to look at it because they still don’t feel like they deserve it.

[00:07:36] So, if you’re thinking about studying, I would just encourage you to really do some internal work, reflect, introspect, do some journaling. Chat with the people around you make a valid assessment as to whether this qualification is actually going to add value [00:08:00] to you, to your life, to your career. Or is it just going to put you into more debt and stress you out because of the fact that you’re trying to juggle, all of the things, the study and the job and the family and the relationships and your health and wellbeing. What value is the qualification going to add?

[00:08:25] Just a little short episode for you here today. I hope that it’s given you a bit of food for thought. I definitely don’t want to encourage anyone to not study if they are looking at studying for the right reasons. But as I’ve said, I truly think that if you are studying for a purpose, that. Is being driven by your own feeling of inadequacy, go and spend the money on something else. Put a deposit down in a house, buy yourself a nice car, [00:09:00] invest it. Do whatever. You don’t need that piece of paper.

[00:09:05] Have a beautiful week, take care, and I’ll see you next week.

[00:09:09] Thanks so much for listening to the Pop Your Career podcast. I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s tips and that you found value in what I’ve shared with you. If you like your career advice quick and entertaining, I would love for you to subscribe. Also leave me a rating and a review. If you want to continue the conversation, come and join me over on social media. You can find me everywhere at Pop Your Career. I’ll see you soon.

[00:09:35] This episode is brought to you by the Career Clarity Quest, my absolutely free, seven day program, which is designed to support you in getting so much clearer about your next steps. Find it at PopYourCareer.com/quest.

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About the author 


Bec McFarland is an experienced HR practitioner, manager, career coach and the creator of Pop Your Career. She delights in sharing practical, straight to the point career advice, spending time with her family and eating Mexican food.