Career in housing..but which degree
03/07/2012 4:55 pm
I have doen work experience at a housing association. I enjoyed it veery much and would like to make a career in it. I am starting universtiy next year, but now I don't know what to study. I was thinking about Geography, but now I don't know whether to apply for housing degrees. What do employers in housing like most? Would it be better to specialise now or not?
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13/07/2012 4:16 pm
Only apply for a housing degree if you are more passionately interested in housing than any of the hundreds of other things that you might study at university. Unless you are absolutely set on a career for which a degree in the discipline is non-negotiable (e.g. medicine, engineering), you should study whatever rings your bells sufficiently for you to happily immerse yourself in the literature and assignments relating to that subject for three years.
You are right that housing associations are great places to work – which is why they dominate the Sunday Times list of Top 100 not-for-profit organisations to work for. And every housing association offers a range of career opportunities beyond mainstream ‘housing’, for example business development, HR, finance.
Employers in social housing are not looking primarily for a degree in housing; indeed for most roles a degree of any kind is not essential. What is important for progression into more senior roles is having the level of cognitive abilities (verbal, numerical, abstract reasoning) that would be required for access to a degree course. Also, the kind of core competencies that doing a degree in pretty much any subject would serve to hone: for example analytical and critical reasoning, personal organisation skills, self-directed learning and development, ability to structure and write reports.
So I would suggest that if Geography or something else is your true area of interest for academic study, go for it. Maybe do some voluntary work for a local housing association or homelessness service in your spare time. Then when you graduate, look for an entry level role or graduate trainee scheme in a housing association. As long as you are able to show that you are intelligent, self-aware with good interpersonal skills, conscientious, and genuinely committed to developing a career in housing, you will go far.
13/07/2012 4:18 pm
From personal experience, most people I have worked with in housing has stumbled into the profession rather than it being a chosen path. That was certainly the case with me. I am therefore really heartened to hear that you have really enjoyed your work experience within a housing association and are looking at housing as a future career. I have met a colleague who has recently joined Aspire and they were also clear that a career in housing was what they wanted, they undertook a housing degree and are thoroughly enjoying what they are doing. I'm sure that the person would happily have a chat with you if that would help.
From an employers' perspective certain job roles will ask for a housing degree or equivalent, so I don't think undertaking a geography degree would be a restrictive step in you wanting to work in housing, but obviously a housing degree is more focused. So I guess a key question for yourself is where do you see your future career? If you believe that this is in housing then a housing degree would appear to be the natural choice. When considering any degree there are obviously a range of factors that you will need to take into account in terms of the Universities that offer the courses, location of Universities, fees etc but I'm sure you are already considering these.
I don't think that you would regret taking a housing degree and I certainly don't think you will regret choosing housing as a career. I wish you all the very best and hope that I am reading about your future successes in the very near future.
19/07/2012 12:21 pm
If your interested in housing as a career, it may be worth holding off studying a degree for a year and doing a Chartered Insititue of Housing level 3 certificate in social housing manangement. It will give you an overall view of all the different areas of social housing including the history and law of housing.
Don't think you need a degree to start in housing, I don't have one and have worked in housing for over 5 years. Experience and having social skills can be just as important when working in the environment that we do. If you are able to find a job in housing, you may find in time the organisation will help fund a degree/qualification if this is of benefit to them.
If you definatley want to go to university and come study choose a subject that you want to study rather than what you think your should study.
Whatever you decide to do, I wish you luck in your journey.