What Are ‘Stackable Credentials?’

Have you ever met someone who went to college for their Associate’s degree, used that degree in their work, then went back to college to get a Bachelor’s degree in a related field?

Or do you know someone who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, then several years later went to graduate school to get a Master’s or Ph.D?

These are examples of “stackable credentials.” Many people go to college for one degree, work for a few years, then go back to college to get a higher degree or specialized certification in their field, or get a degree in a new field so they can change careers.

Any time spent in college is an accomplishment. Earning an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree and working in a good-paying, interesting career is something to be proud of. Some people want to return to college to change or advance their careers.

Lots of people take a break in between degree programs to raise their children, or to pay down debt and save money for their next college program. Another reason to go back for a degree is when the next career move you want to make requires a higher degree or certification.

Your career might involve going back to college a few times, and/or participating in other formal trainings related to your current or future career. People who are willing to be “lifelong learners” are more likely to have the skills employers want and be eligible for promotions and higher-paying positions.

Take a look at this graphic from Minnesota Career and Technical Education, It shows how one person can start their career at a two-year college, work in the field, then return to college for higher degrees over the years.

Remember: Your career is a journey that can go as far and long as you want it to. No degree is a stopping point. You can also get multiple degrees in different areas if you want. For example, some people have two or three Master’s degrees, sometimes in related subjects, sometimes in very different areas of interest.

How will lifelong learning be a part of your career?