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... Dr. Shafiq

February 29 2024


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What Are Academic Qualifications?

Ever noticed how people are becoming more inclined to academic qualifications nowadays? That’s because our modern society has more respect and scope for it. Academic qualifications are formal educational credential that shows a person’s knowledge and skills in a particular subject, awarded by schools, colleges, and universities. Let me explain what are academic qualifications and their role in career advancements.

Types of Academic Qualifications

Secondary Level Qualifications

Secondary education is compulsory in most countries in the world. This qualification is handed out to students after they complete 12 or 13 years of schooling. It means students can achieve secondary-level qualifications after completing high school. These are must qualifications for students who want to get higher studies at universities or colleges.

Here is a list of academic qualifications at the secondary level around the world:

  • General Certificate of Secondary Education or GCSE in the United Kingdom
  • General Education Development or GED in the USA
  • A-levels
  • International Baccalaureate or IB

Higher Education Qualifications

Higher education qualifications are not mandatory for all students. Students, after completing their high school, can join universities or colleges for higher studies. There are several types of higher education qualifications, such as:

  • Bachelor's Degree: the first step of higher education and typically takes 3 to 4 years to complete.
  • Master’s Degree: the next level of higher education that takes about 1 to 2 years to complete.
  • Doctorate Degrees: the highest level of higher education and can take as many as 4 to 7 years to complete.

Professional and Vocational Qualifications

Professional and vocational qualifications are designed to prepare students for specific roles and employment. As a result, both students and working professionals pursue these qualifications. A person can obtain these qualifications in many ways, such as on-the-job training, short courses, and training.

The Role of Academic Qualifications in Career Advancement

The Role of Academic Qualifications in Career Advancement

How Academic Qualifications Influence Employability

Academic qualifications now play a vital role in employability. Most employers nowadays want to hire employees with the right skills and knowledge to succeed in a particular job. Candidates with the right academic qualifications can only fulfill these criteria.

For example, a minimum bachelor's degree is required for an entry-level job in the corporate sector. With the proper academic qualifications, you can show that you have the required skills and knowledge and can complete challenging tasks.

According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, students with college graduates are more likely to be employed and less likely to be unemployed.

Academic Qualifications and Salary Expectations                                                             

The academic qualification has connections with salary expectations, where both are positively correlated. Meaning people with higher levels of academic qualifications tend to earn more money. This is one of the major factors employers consider while determining employees’ salaries.

The National Bureau of Economic Research found that people with college degrees earn an average of $1 million more than people with just a high school diploma. Another study by the Pew Research Center shows that the median annual income of a college graduate is $55,200, whereas high school diploma holders earn $39,000.

These examples show that higher academic qualifications are essential elements in salary expectations.

Case Studies on Job Roles and Their Required Academic Qualifications

Thousands of job positions are in the market that require different levels of academic qualifications. Following are some case studies on job roles and their required academic qualifications:

  • Business Executives: A Bachelor of Business Administration or BBA degree is required for entry-level business executive positions. Some employers seek an MBA degree in fresher positions.
  • Engineers: A Bachelor’s degree in engineering is required for entry-level engineering positions. Some specialized positions in senior roles require a postgraduate degree or Ph.D.
  • Doctor: Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree are the minimum qualifying criteria for doctors. It generally takes 5 years to complete this degree. A doctor becomes eligible for practice or a job only after completing this MBBS degree.
  • Lawyers: Bachelor’s degree in law is a minimum requirement for lawyers. It generally takes 3 to 4 years to earn this degree. After obtaining this degree, lawyers can start practicing in a court of law. In some cases, they might need to take a professional exam to get a license.

Understanding International Academic Qualifications

Understanding International Academic Qualifications

Differences Between Academic Qualifications Across The Globe

Academic qualifications can significantly vary from one country to another. Different countries have different education systems based on their cultural norms and economic conditions.

Some factors create differences in academic qualifications across the globe, such as:

  • The length of study: The length of time a degree requires to complete can be different in different parts of the world. Academic qualifications examples in terms of time include a bachelor's program in US universities and colleges typically takes 4 years to complete. However, a bachelor's program in the UK typically takes 3 years to complete.
  • The content of the curriculum: contents of the same curriculum can also vary significantly from country to country. This is because countries design a curriculum based on their own needs and requirements. For example, an engineering degree in the US is more focused on theoretical knowledge, whereas an engineering degree in Germany is more focused on learning practical skills.
  • The grading system: The assessment method or grading system can also be dissimilar in different countries. For example, many countries follow the CGPA system, and many others follow the percentage system. Again, some countries weigh more on exams, while others use projects and assignments for assessment.

The Process of International Qualification Recognition and Equivalency

Students are now going from one country to another for higher studies. As a result, equivalency in academic qualification has become an important issue. Students must ensure that qualifications are recognized and accepted in other countries.

However, the process of international qualification recognition and equivalency is complex and time-consuming. Luckily, a couple of organizations are there to provide these services to students and professionals. These organizations are World Education Services, or WES, and the National Academic Recognition Information Centre, or NARIC.

How to Gain Academic Qualifications

How to Gain Academic Qualifications

Academic qualification means getting formal education provided by educational institutions. Now, educational institutions come in many forms, offering many ways to gain academic qualifications. Here are some of the most common ways to get academic qualifications:

  • Traditional educational institutions: Traditional institutions like schools, colleges, and universities provide students with academic qualifications for hundreds of years. These are the oldest forms of formal education. These institutions offer numerous courses and programs, such as high school diplomas and undergraduate and postgraduate programs.
  • Online learning platforms and distance education: Online learning has become increasingly popular in recent years. It is a cheaper alternative to the traditional mode of education and offers flexibility in many ways. Most importantly, students can attend online classes from anywhere. That's why students are signing up for distance education on online platforms.
  • Lifelong learning and mature student qualifications: These are academic qualifications for mature people who want to gain new skills or develop new qualifications. Many traditional institutes and online platforms offer these programs. It is an excellent opportunity for students who are out of study for some time or who want to study part-time.

The Debate: Academic Qualifications vs. Skills and Experience

Pros and Cons of Focusing on Academic Qualifications


  • Academic qualifications are proof that you have the knowledge and skills required for a particular job.
  • They develop soft skills in a person, such as communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
  • You can get access to many opportunities, such as high-paying jobs and better career prospects.
  • They often give a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.


  • Academic qualifications are expensive to obtain and time-consuming.
  • Sometimes, they may not be relevant to the skills and knowledge you need for a specific job.
  • Might not be the best way to develop the necessary skills.
  • They are not necessary for all types of jobs and work.

The Value of Skills and Experience in the Job Market

There is still a lot of value for skills and experience in the job market. Skills are often technical, and you can perform specific technical tasks and solve many problems with them. For example, running software or fixing a machine.

Experience is the knowledge you gain over time by performing one or more particular tasks. Skills and experience are both valued in the job market. They are required for many sectors and are valued by employers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is academic qualification?

Academic qualification is formal education and recognition that you have knowledge and skills in a subject or area of study. It is generally awarded by schools, colleges, and universities.

What is the highest academic qualification degree?

The highest level of academic qualification is a doctorate degree. It is the most advanced level of education available on a subject. For example, Doctor of Philosophy or Ph.D. and Doctor of Medicine or MD.

What is difference between academic and professional qualifications?

The main difference between the two is that academic qualifications focus more on theoretical knowledge, and professional qualifications focus more on practical skills.

Are academic qualifications the same as degrees?

No, academic qualifications are not the same as degrees. Academic qualifications encompass a broader category, including degrees, diplomas, certificates, and other educational achievements.

Why are academic qualifications important?

Academic qualifications are important as they validate one's knowledge, skills, and expertise, enabling access to job opportunities, career advancement, and demonstrating competence in a specific field.


Now that you know what are academic qualifications in the clearest terms, you can understand the importance of it in our society. Undergraduate and postgraduate degrees are mandatory for white-collar jobs. So, with the right academic qualifications, you can choose from a wide range of career paths and make a name for yourself.

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