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What Is the Difference between Skills and Qualifications?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Identifying the difference between skills and qualifications can be a challenge, particularly when trying to list them for a job application. As a general rule, it is helpful to remember that a skill is typically related to a specific ability, while a qualification might be a more general accomplishment. For instance, typing 70 words per minute is a skill, while possessing a bachelor's degree in English is a qualification. This is not a hard and fast rule, however, For instance, a qualification for a job might be possessing a certain skill, so it is best not to get too bogged down in worrying about whether things should be defined by which term.

Another way to identify the difference between skills and qualifications is that in some cases, qualifications are requirements to be eligible for a certain job, while skills are simply a bonus. An individual who wants to become a nurse, for instance, might have to possess certain qualifications such as a certain level of education or certifications. Skills that might make him or her a better nurse, though, might include great communication skills or the ability to take initiative. Sometimes a job will require both skills and qualifications, though; moreover, attaining a qualification often involves learning specific skills.

There are a number of ways to increase skills and qualifications for certain jobs. Getting additional education in a certain area, for example, might increase an individual's qualifications. Completing a training or certification program is another way to increase qualifications in a very specific area. Increasing skills, however, might require more dedicated independent work. For instance, if a person wants to increase his or her typing ability, or skill at playing a musical instrument, this will require dedicated practice; simply taking a class, while possibly making him or her seem more qualified, will not always increase skill.

When an individual is submitting an application for a job or discussing the job with a potential employer in an interview, he or she will frequently be asked about his or her skills and qualifications. For this reason, it is important to spend some time in advance considering the answer to this question. Some people find it helpful to make a list, broken down into two categories, listing the skills and qualifications that are most relevant for the particular job. This can also highlight where more skill development or education might be needed in order to qualify for jobs in a chosen career.

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Discussion Comments
By discographer — On Mar 29, 2013

@turquoise-- I'm sure that there are exceptions, but for the most part, both skills and qualifications are necessary to be hired. Employers are looking for people with aptitude as well as experience in their respective fields.

There may be types of jobs that require more skill than qualification or more qualification than skill. But in general, it's good to have both.

By turquoise — On Mar 28, 2013

Which is more important when it comes to being hired, skills or qualifications?

By donasmrs — On Mar 27, 2013

The way I think about it is that qualifications are the skills that the specific employer is asking for, for a position. I may have many skills, but the employer may be looking specifically for certain skills, which is then termed as "qualifications" for that job.

But it is true that qualifications are mostly educational and career related experiences. I would not list my educational achievements and work experience as skills, I would list them as qualifications.

For my skills, I would list my language, communication skills and my ability to work in groups and analyze information.

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