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Community Champion

Companies Are Relaxing Their Degree Requirements to Find Top Talent

Interesting Blog Post


"One is to say that the job market is so hot—in favor of employees—that companies are relaxing standards just to get people in. Another way to see it is that the correlation between having a college degree and being a great employee is no longer very strong."



9 Replies
Defender I

More companies are seeing the light; a very good thing.


In 2000 I went to work as in information security specialist for a high technology systems engineering company that does research and development for the U.S. federal government. At that time the company would hire workers without degrees only for internal support positions. All job involving direct interaction with our government sponsors required at least a  bachelor's degree. Several years ago (I was not able to discover when) the company quietly relaxed the degree requirement and began hiring 'professional' level positions based on demonstrated skill and experience without arbitrarily mandated degrees. 


Those of us in the infosec (cybersecurity) positions particularly applauded the change. We knew that for several decades almost all solid infosec workers were self-taught in the field, without reliance on formal degrees, except for background technical expertise.



D. Cragin Shelton, DSc
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Newcomer II

I've bumped into a glass ceiling once or twice in my 25 year IT career due to not having a degree but those events have pushed me to continue to learn, to stretch myself in security and related domains. I've had to find ways to differentiate myself from others with degrees. I've worked with, and hired brilliant people with and without degrees. The passion for the field, hunger to learn, and drive to get stuff done sets someone up to progress in their career and enjoy their work at the same time.

Nothing replaces experience but education, certifications, and a network of smart people you can reach out to with questions, when you're looking for work, or looking to hire, helps a lot. You can be successful without some of those pieces but filling in the blank spaces broadens your range of opportunities to take on new challenges.

Best, Mark
Newcomer II

I am not surprised by this.  Any time there is a shortage, requirements are reviewed.  


If you look at the ramp-up to Y2K, lots of companies started ditching the degree requirements due to the workforce shortage.  Then, the market cooled, and shrunk.  The degree requirements crept back in, hurting many folks without the degree.


In my last organization, we dropped the degree requirement, but had a degree progression clause in our employment contract.  Each of my cyber guys without their degree had to earn credits toward their degree each semester.  We even paid a portion of it.  Not only was it a good recruiting carrot, but the candidates felt good that we had their long term interests in mind.  Mind you, we were targeting interns that were on board with us to come full-time.  This would not always work with folks out of school, or that would have to gain admissions to a university just for the job.  And, you don't want to have someone enroll in a high-cost low-value private school just to meet that requirement.  


I think long term the degree requirement will come and go.  And it may haunt those that don't have it. 


I agree that a degree isn't always a good indicator of talent.  The same argument can be made for a certification.  I have had stellar cyber employees that have neither and poor employees that have both.  But, you need to make it past HR, and sometimes both are a mandatory check box.

Newcomer I

Degree shouldn't be a hard requirement for a job, but it is understandable to prefer a candidate with a degree. Four year college experience teaches a lot beyond just core competencies. There are always few exceptions where a high school graduate performs much better than a college graduate but in general college experience does make a difference. 

Newcomer II

I don't disagree with you at all.  I do think that where the degree is from can make a difference.  A degree from MIT vs a degree from Bill's Bait Shop and University is night vs day.  I think many of us know the "degree mills" that take peoples money and give them a degree in return.  But, the level of education has little value.  I think that is an important part of the context.  

Community Champion

A lot depends on what the degree was in as well, and when you are building a team you are looking for folks who will complement each other, and can work well and there might be, a Specialisation or two you really need that certification wouldn’t test for, but perhaps not everyone requires this.


I personally don’t feel that a dregree was ever a hard requirement in any of the roles I’ve had. In fact for one job the main requirement was to set up encrypted email to communicate with the hiring manager, and that was much more of a practical test, of course not having a degree meant that the emails were probably not as good as they would have been if I’d read English Lit... but never mind I got the job.

Community Champion

While I can appreciate the relaxing of the requirement as I have hit that glass ceiling several times in my career before my degree was attained, I have to caution people not to take it to mean that education does not add value to your career. A meaningless degree in basket weaving does nothing but check a box and does not further your career; however a degree that pushes your information limits can be a boon to your career. For example, all I learned in my 4-year B.S. degree was that you can skew statistics to make them say what ever you want, and 95% of smart people agree with me. When I started my Master's degree program it taught me the language of the C-suite, the hurdles I faced in battling organizational culture, how to align my objectives with strategic leadership goals, etc.  Although I am not finished yet, the academic push into the leadership realms has helped me climb the ladder into executive management (Deputy CIO, CIO, and CISO).


I definitely didn't sign up for a diploma mill!



Newcomer II

We are talking about degrees.  This is a topic discussing how companies are relaxing some of their hiring requirements for people with certain skills.


It seems that you are spamming the community with your accusations against the organization without fully understanding the process.


I can't speak for their not returning a phone call, as I have always only e-mailed them.  But, they have always gotten back to me.


You don't need an HCISPP to endorse you.  Anyone that holds an (ISC)2  certification can.  CISSP, SSCP, etc.  


I also was a sole-proprietor.  They don't ask for your trade secrets. You can use customers as the references to attest to your skills.  For anything you send them, you don't need to get to the level of anything proprietary.


I hold more than one of their certifications, and I have never taken one of their courses for any of them.


I come from the health care security space.  Yes, the HCISPP is considered a legitimate certification from a legitimate organization.  


I can also assure you that the other certification bodies have very similar procedures.  You would face the same vetting procedure from any of them. 


Now, if we can get back to the topic at hand...

Community Champion

@notetaker,it appears that you're venting out your frustrations on multiple sections of this forum; please avoid doing that. You can either communicate directly with their Customer Support, or else create a new post on the section for Member Support, detailing your case.




Shannon D'Cruz,