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Qualifications Vs Experience Plus 8 Things Students Should Know

Qualifications Vs Experience Plus 8 Things Students Should Know

Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 108) – All IMHO:  
In property design, construction and management, the more qualifications on display or letters after someones name, the more you should be worried IMHO.

Says the asshole with two degrees and five certifications! In my defence, I am not sure where any of the certificates are and my business card does not mention them. 

I am a fan of pattern recognition (intuition) which for me usually manifests as a “gut” feeling about something or someone. When I get a business card with lots of letters after someones name I sometimes get a “gut” feeling. The more qualifications on show, either by certificates on the wall or letters after someones name the more I see over compensation and a possible red flag about ability. 

Lets be clear, an Engineering degree is not easy, Engineering students seldom get triggered and protest, they do not have the time. An Engineering degree requires a certain amount of brain power and is an achievement in and of itself. However, it is way not enough to become an Engineer, it is one of the prerequisites to play the game of becoming an Engineer. I say “one of”, because there are other less taken routes to becoming an Engineer via combinations of college study, experience and exams that I cannot cover here. 

When I am mentoring building services engineering students this is my advice to them: 

  1. If you want to be an Engineer, the prerequisite is a Bachelors Degree in an engineering discipline. 
  2. If you want to be an Engineer, get Licensed or Chartered i.e. four more years of work under a mentor, then more exams.
  3. If you want to be an Engineer, nobody really cares where you get your degree as long as you become Licensed or Chartered. If you are paying for a fancy university logo on your degree certificate, think about this. 
  4. Universities are not great at preparing you for the working world, try and find a mentor from the “real” world as soon as you can. 
  5. Get an Engineering job and work experience as soon as possible and continually build on it.  
  6. For a practicing building services Engineer, a Masters degree or PhD is not necessary as long as you are, or will be, Licensed or Chartered. 
  7. If you want to be a super star, “do the rep’s”, nail the fundamentals then find a niche and become a “Jedi Knight” within it. 
  8. If you really want to do a Masters degree, do it in a complimentary, adjacent field so you enhance your talent stack and employability. For example, a Masters in project management would be a boost to any building services engineer’s CV and signal a managerial career candidate. 

Qualifications are not indicators of talent or skills. All they demonstrate are an ability to study and memorize. They are the tickets that have to be earned to play the game, so talent and skills can be developed and demonstrated. Talent and skills are built on experience. 

When I interview candidates I see qualifications only as a “ticket” to get into the room. I am really interested in what candidates can actually do which is demonstrated by what they have done, not what they think they can do. This does not mean I will not take a chance and hire someone to a next level in their career. I will take a chance, based on the interviewee convincing me of their mastery of the fundamentals evidenced in their work to date and their confidence in their transferable skillset to the job I have on offer. 

This gets me onto the definition of “senior”. Senior is when experience trumps qualifications. Senior implies maturity and credibility. This does not mean looking old but it does mean being experienced, accomplished and on the path to mastery. I normally use the following chart to discuss senior status.

Note: “Building Services Engineers Career Chart”  can be downloaded in PDF at

A building services Engineering career is important, it adds value to society. In a world of pollution and resource depletion, building services Engineers, are destined to become more important and prominent. My advice to any STEM student is to go for it and train to become an Engineer. 

However, I will tell you what universities that suck money out of you will not. To become an real Engineer requires 4 years of hard study, plus 4 more years of hard work under a mentor plus 2 more years again to become capable and considered senior. 

Is it worth it? IMHO, society needs you, it will be an interesting career and people with mastery earn well, so, HELL YES! 

Twitter: @BLDWhisperer

Related posts & links:

#60 – It Takes How Long! ( )

#107 – CxM Talent Stack – The 1% ( )

#75 – MEP Engineering is a Weak Link Game ( )

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