Who Cares if The Instructor Doesn’t Have a Degree?

If you’ve browsed through online courses recently to brush up on a skill or learn something new, then you’ve probably noticed something — just about anyone can create a course and share or sell it online. Long gone are the days where you’d need a lengthy background or a degree in a specific field in order to have people trust or pay to listen to what you are saying. As long as you have a functioning brain and internet access, you can pretty much teach any subject of your choosing.

However, not everyone is pleased with this and I guess I can understand why. It’s more competition for those of us who actually spent thousands of dollars to obtain that degree or put in all those years of work to gain reputable experience. I’ll tell you this, though — it doesn’t bother me one bit and I feel like it shouldn’t bother you either.

Here are 4 reasons why.

1. To kick things off, no one is forcing you to learn from the above mentioned group of people

There is way too much internet for you to be complaining about what people choose to do with their time and knowledge. If you don’t like what is being shared by certain people, you are a click away from never seeing them again. If you are concerned about the competition and feel they don’t deserve to be going after the same clients as you, then make sure that what you are offering is of great value so you can retain your position in the market. The great Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t look at the competition and say you are going to do it better. You have to look at the competition and say you’re going to do it differently.” So stop complaining and step your game up.

2. There is so much information on the world wide web that anyone can master a topic of their choosing if they are willing to put the time and effort into doing so

It should come as no surprise that the web is filled with a plethora of information on a wide array of topics. I, personally, know way more about owls than I probably should and that’s only because one day I got caught in the rabbit hole that is the internet and read articles and watched videos about them for hours. Imagine how much more I could know if I intentionally spent time daily studying and researching all there is to know about them! I could be like an owl guru…and maybe even teach a course about them.

It’s kind of the same thing (but a little different) for the instructors of online courses who don’t necessarily have a degree in the particular area of study that they are teaching. If they took the time to spend hours and days learning from reputable online sources — or gained knowledge from unique life experiences — about a topic to the point that they have mastered it, why should anyone have a problem learning from them? You can even learn from a toddler if you’re willing to.

3. A growing number of people never have or no longer continue to work in their major

Think about it, if you graduated from college in the year 2009 like I did, you pretty much had to take what you could get as far as jobs went. I have degrees in business management and marketing, and up until the end of last year was stuck working entry level customer service and payroll jobs. (I write and do social media management now.) This has been the reality for many people. Whether it’s because they graduated during a tough time in the job market, or they got a job in their field, tried it, and hated it, things don’t always work out according to plan — and that’s okay.

In an article that was written several years ago on Times Free Press, it stated that “about one-third (31 percent) of college-educated American workers age 35 and older are never employed within their degree field.” Why then — if someone is fortunate enough to find something that they are passionate about, take the time out educate themselves thoroughly on it, and are willing to share the information with others — should we have an issue with it?

4. Sometimes people realize that they naturally possess a marketable and/or in-demand skill or personality trait that proves to be lucrative

If your degree is in animal studies, and you have a bubbly and positive personality, why not teach a course on the topic of positivity or how to be happy? Another example would be an accountant who also happens to be in excellent physical shape. Does he or she need a degree in nutrition or fitness to share with people what has clearly worked for them? I don’t think so. As adults, we have the right to make informed decisions — so if you want to learn about fitness from someone who is fit rather than someone who is not fit, but has a degree on the subject, then that’s your choice — and I, for one, am extremely happy to have that choice.

Don’t Judge a Book…or an Instructor

I have taken many online courses. A great number of them have been taught by people who were self taught on the subject and are now doing extremely well. I enjoy learning from people who have shown that what they are teaching has worked for them and many others. A degree isn’t necessary for that and this is coming from someone who worked extremely hard to get hers. I’m not saying that one method of online instruction is better than the other, but there are many ways to learn. If you are school taught, great. If you are street and experience taught, fantastic. As long as you can show that you know your stuff and I have learned something at the end of your course, I’m happy and so are many others.

Have you ever taken an online course by a self taught success story? What has your experience been?