Dr. Rawlins and Dr. Spurlock explain why experience isn’t enough to advance in the safety field.
Why should you still pursue a degree in safety even if you have experience? Well, experience is a great thing. There’s really no replacement for experience, but there’s also no replacement for education either. Education, now, is the difference a lot of times between job security and job advancement. Companies, now, are placing more emphasis on education, not so much experience anymore. It’s in the best interest of workers who want to move up the corporate ladder to become potentially the corporate safety person, to get a terminal degree from somewhere. I think most people, if they had to choose, would probably take the education over the experience. Again, I think that experience is wonderful, but I think that education is better.
If someone is asking the question, “I’ve got all this experience in safety, why do I need a degree?” First of all, I commend people who ask that question, because I constantly try to tell students even online or campus, “You need to look at your career from a return on investment perspective.” I can say without hesitation that there is a return on investment for those people who have got a lot of experience in safety and are asking the question, “Do I have to get a degree?” You will have a return on the investment.
It may not be the thing that allows them to select you over the other candidate, maybe it’s your experience that allows that to happen, but many times, it is the key that opens the gate to get you there for the interview. Another thing, again, right or wrong, that degree behind the name adds a different level of credibility.
I think it hones you as a professional. You may not learn any remarkable new technical skills, but the rigor that you go through, particularly in a masters or bachelors program of having to write and think about these things, and preferably you think first and then write. It really hones your skills as a professional, it makes you a better communicator, it makes you a more effective leader by having that behind, just going through that process. There’s a lot of benefits, but certainly those are the biggest ones.