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//Academic Vs Professional

Academic Vs Professional

Academic vs Professional Qualifications

A question has been struggling to get to the surface, on the lips of all those aspiring to further qualification throughout the land. Which is the better qualification Academic or Professional?

This is the definitive showdown… Academic Vs Professional

Tale of the tape:

The Academic
Focus: Research
Prerequisite: Academic qualification
Knowledge: Heavily specialised
The Professional
Focus: Application
Prerequisite: Experience
Knowledge: Deeply practical

As you can see, these two fighters have very different styles, leading to completely different sets of skills, each with different purposes and contexts for the world of work.


Round one: Background.

The two fighters circle the ring, sizing each other up

Professional qualifications are up and coming prospects, a relatively new contender to the qualification division. Their emphasis is on flexible learning to improve skills whilst working in your desired field with a view to progress, they enable professionals to tailor their studies to specifically achieve personal objectives whilst gaining internationally recognised qualifications.

Academic qualifications are the reigning champions and are old hands in the qualification division.  Their emphasis is on a traditional approach to learning, providing a detailed and specialised theoretical approach to issues which may be divorced from the everyday applications of knowledge. They are globally recognised as the standards of education and maintain high industry standards.
Professional backing


Round two: Learning Methods.

They jab at each other probing for weaknesses and are impressed by other’s style. The Academic adopts a conventional stance, throwing powerful punches while The Professional bobs and weaves around the danger.
As mentioned, professional revolves around flexibility, and this extends to their learning approach. The Professional prides itself on the ability to cater to all the learners needs. This allows an individual to pick up experience whilst learning – they can try to implement what they’ve learnt as they learn, informing both their learning and working life.

The Academic learning usually takes place within a formal institution meaning there is a deep focus on learning, but students are usually unable to apply their knowledge to a relevant field.


Round three: Warrant of expertise and retention

The bell rings and with an immediate crushing blow The Professional sends The Academic spiralling to the ground, the referee begins the count…
Professional qualifications certify the possession of essential knowledge and skills within a specified industry.  They confer a warrant of expertise, a proof of performance, due to the nature of the training and the fact that it is built on practice analysis.
In contrast an academic qualification does not certify competence and is not based on a systematic or formal practice analysis. It merely certifies is that the learner has successfully learnt the theory behind the practice.

5…6…7, The Academic gets up and dusts the canvas from the gloves. They start again, each with getting into their own rhythm…

Academic qualifications tend to require prior academic qualifications whereas professional qualifications require work experience as a prerequisite and both attempt to act as proof to a prospective employer as suitability for a particular role.

Round four: Creativity

The Academic’s pride is hurt and a storm is thrown at The Professional. Though unorthodox, the unexpected attack throws The Professional off guard and The Academic takes this round.

The main advantage to academic qualifications is a greater sense of creativity, the ability to view a problem from a different angle which may not spring to the mind of the professional.  The professional is often prescribed with the correct way of doing things, which may not be the best way of doing this in certain situations. The theoretical skill of the Academic allows for this flexibility of thought, however the application of this flexibility is sometimes found wanting.


Round five: Specificity

The Professional comes back with a precise shot selection, while The Academic attempts to continue their flurry.

Professional qualifications are built upon a practice analysis which defines what certified individuals need to know or be able to do. Academic credentials are rarely based upon formal and systematic practice analyses, meaning ability levels can wildly vary despite the possession of the same qualification. A professional qualification offers a standardised approach, if you possess this qualification, you will be able to do x and apply it to y and gain z results.

The tirade comes to nothing as some of the punches proves ineffective and The Academic seems to be too tired to continue. Fortunately the bell rings before The Professional is able to capitalise.


Round six: Time and levels

The Professional Wastes no time and attacks, throwing various punches in quick succession. The Academic matches the blows but cannot keep up.

Professional qualifications come in the same number of levels as the academic and are judged against an academic standard on the National Qualification Framework. From level 1, to level 9, each has their academic equivalent and both are capable of offering something at any level. There is something for everyone. However, timing is key and the majority of professional qualifications can be completed in less time than their academic equivalents due to application of learning being of primary importance.


Round seven: Costs and Finance

The Academic is reeling and is reluctant to leave the corner. But, cheered on, they continue. Many are convinced are The Academic’s superiority as they are simply worth more money than The Professional

Academic qualification costs seem to be constantly rising and are currently £9,000 in England and Wales. For this you usually get access to teachers and enrolment in a classroom. Professional qualifications have this as well, but usually cost a fraction of this. However, due to academic qualifications usually being unsuited for application, they cannot take full advantage of distance learning. As mentioned, professional qualifications can be undertaken in tandem with work, meaning one informs the other, leading to an arguably richer learning experience. Distance Learning and professional qualifications go hand in hand as any schedule can be worked around, guaranteeing an uninterrupted interaction between work and study.


The Final Round: Demand
The crowd goes wild for a final round and but the fight is definitely over. The fighters get to their feet and stand in the middle of the ring, The Academic is battered, but still standing and each qualification is filled with an utmost respect for their opponent. They go back into their corners and come out swinging.

A recent CIPD study showed that over 58% of graduates are working in non-graduate roles, meaning graduate qualification is at saturation point. There are simply not enough ‘highly-skilled entry level’ roles, taken at face value, the term in itself sounds like a contradiction. However, there are many higher level positions requiring an industry experience which most graduates cannot access. However, professional qualifications are highly sought after, and significantly more so within a supply chain field with key skill shortages



The judges’ scorecards are in and the winner by uniamous decision…
Theee Proooooofessional!

Of course, you may say it was rigged from the start, just look at the judges!
But the points raised are valid and do unanimously highlight a decline in the attractiveness of the traditional methods of higher learning. University no longer provides the opportunities it once did and is fast proving incompatible with a workplace whose focus is on increasingly on the application of knowledge in workplace situations.
Of course, the university will always have its place, but it’s important to remove its being perceived as ‘the better qualification’. The truth is, the better qualification is the one which suits your goals the most. If your goal is to improve skills which will be beneficial to the workplace and further your career, then a professional qualification is for you, if your goal is to theoretically understand a particular approach, then an academic qualification is for you.

Distance learning College simply wants people to be aware of the professional qualification as an alternative to the traditional form of learning, and have some fun along the way.

Talk over whether a professional qualification is for you with one of Distance Learning College’s learning advisors
Give us a call on 0800 0126 770



By | 2018-06-20T09:39:41+00:00 September 9th, 2015|General|Comments Off on Academic Vs Professional