Half of small business owners say they employ staff without a college degree and notice no difference in performance among staff with varying education levels, according to a new survey of nearly 1,000 small business owners published by Manta.

“Through our quarterly Wellness Index, Manta takes a pulse of its small business community to provide insight on new business activity and highlight key trends among small business owners. This year’s 2013 Q2 Index also took a look at how small business owners felt about the correlation between higher education and business success,” Kristy Campbell, director of marketing at Manta, told O&P Business News. “This survey supports our belief that small business owners are a resourceful group who use well-rounded strategies to find success in their business, whether it is hiring people with real-world experience or collaborating with their peers for advice and expertise.”

Survey results

Manta, an online community that helps small businesses, polled 978 small business owners through an online survey between July 10 to July 15.

Fifty percent of small business owners reported hiring employees who did not have a college degree. However, 62% said there is no difference in performance among staff with a college degree vs. without. Although only 40% of small business owners believed that having a college education is important to succeeding in the working world, 69% admitted to personally having a college education and 68% believe it made a difference in their success.

“Even though nearly 70% of small business owners have a bachelor’s degree themselves, they are more than open to hiring staff without — more than half of owners surveyed have employees without a degree, and a majority didn’t see any difference in work performance,” Campbell said. “Small business owners look beyond just education for success — a strong business plan is their top priority even above capital, networking and mentorship.”

College degrees in the O&P industry

As the O&P industry increasingly demands future practitioners to have advanced degrees, this survey highlights the question of whether the master’s degree will be significant to new graduates trying to obtain a job. According to David Curtis, chief administrative officer at WillowWood, when it comes to the manufacturing side of O&P, it depends on the position.

“If we’re looking for an engineer in our product development group, we tend to look for degreed engineers,” Curtis told O&P Business News. “But if we’re talking about a fabrication tech in our custom fabrication department, a college degree is not required knowledge. It is actually the experience and certifications that matter more.”

When it comes to WillowWood’s clinical testing department, Curtis explained that most of the prosthetists they hire have some sort of college program degree before receiving their certification.

“The college degree is going to become important [for orthotists and prosthetists],” Curtis said. “I think it is going to become more important the further down the future we move as some of the more experienced, long-term prosthetists and orthotists start retiring and they’re replaced with a younger generation.”

Before O&P students begin to question whether their degree will be relevant or not, Curtis recommends double checking the requirements in their specific program.

“Students should make sure they’re taking the right courses and the right course of study that it is valid for preparing them in what they want to do in their career,” he said. “Some places want to know what skills you can demonstrate and not what educational background you can demonstrate.” — by Casey Murphy

For more information:

Half of Small Business Owners Say Experience Trumps Education. Available at: www.manta.com/media/q2_wellness_index_080613. Accessed August 19, 2013.
Disclosure: Campbell is employed by Manta. Curtis is employed at WillowWood.

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