Education Verification for Employment

  •  11/16/2018
  • By Andrea Collatz
  •  Compliance , Criminal Background , Employer

Hiring a new employee can be an exciting process. It likely means that your small business is growing, and with that expansion comes the need for more help. You probably have your dream candidate in mind: a person who’s accountable, reliable, and replete with a skill set to drive your company’s success even further.

Unfortunately, taking on a new employee comes with a great deal of risk. Making the wrong hire can derail plans for your small business, disrupting operations or causing friction in the workplace—a hiring manager’s worst nightmare.  

Many employers get caught up in the exhilarating rush of the hiring process—then fail to verify simple qualifications such as education. What looked like your dream candidate on paper might not actually be so dreamy, especially if they lied on their application or resume.  

Education verification can be an important part of background screening; consider whether education verification should be a component of your company’s screening processes.   

What is Education Verification?

Most jobs require some at least some degree of education—the same is likely true for your small business’s open position.

employment rate for those holding a bachelor’s degree

The National Center for Education Statistics reported that the employment rate for those holding a Bachelor’s degree or higher was at 88% in 2016, while those who did not complete high school had an employment rate of 48%.

When verifying education,an employer checks records to confirm that an applicant has a high school diploma, undergraduate or graduate degree; this verification ensures the information recorded on the job candidate’s application or resume was truthful and accurate.  

Verifying education will also help small business hiring managers spot a diploma obtained from a “diploma mill” (also known as a degree mill). A diploma, according to the U.S. Department of Education, mill is a company or organization that claims to be a postsecondary education institution providing degrees and diplomas for a fee, while requiring students to complete little or no education or coursework and is unaccredited by any recognized accreditation agency or association. These mills will offerworthless diplomas and transcriptsrather than real education experience in exchange for the requested ‘tuition’.  

They may claim to require the submission of a thesis or dissertation to give an appearance of authenticity. Individuals who ”enroll”into a diploma mill may or may not know that they degree they’ve obtained is not legitimately recognized as genuine.  

Check out the diploma mill database on; a simple search may help you determine if an online school has proper accreditation—or if they’ve been reported as a consumer fraud or scam. If you don’t have the budget or time to commit to a complete education verification process, sites like these can help you assess the validity of a candidate’s degrees or certification.

Why Should Employers Verify Education? 

Verifying the information included on an applicant’s resume can help improve the quality of your company’s hires.

While education verification processes may vary, employers are typically looking to confirm the following:

  • Education degrees 
  • Institution attended 
  • Years attended 
  • Specific certifications 
  • Specialized training 

Confirming the above information can prove invaluable for hiring managers. Employers should verify education for the following reasons:

  1. To Help Protect Against Negligent Hiring Claims 
    Employers are expected to take reasonable measures to protect their company and their employees. Whena newhire conducts dangerous behavior or injures a co-worker while on the job, your small business may be exposed to liability 
  2. To Ensure the Applicant has the Required Certification or Degree for the Position Certain jobs, especially within the health care industry, require great expertise backed by special certifications. If an applicant does not actually possess the skill set required to perform the task, it could lead to a lot of liability on the employer’s behalf. 
  3. Falsification of Degree and/or Credentials 
    With education verification, employers can weed out diploma mills, bogus academic degrees, and desperate individuals seeking to puff up their resumes with outright false information.

employers can ensure the applicant has the necessary background with education verification

How Far Back Do Education Background Checks Span?

Typical education screening covers all post-high school degrees and claims. Because verification checks against official records, there is generally no time limit to which the educational background can span.

If an applicant has reported that they’ve already graduated when they in fact have not yet completed school, education verification should still be able to confirm the major and the dates in attendance.

education checks can extend as far back as high school

What Are the Drawbacks of the Education Verification Process? 

Some employers choose to forgoeducation verification, on account of its drawbacks, including:

  • Slow process: It can take weeks to verify education due to school closures or slow degree posting processes.
  • Inaccessibility: Some educational institutions have policies that prohibit anyone other than a former student to access their records. 
  • Inaccurate reports: Name variations, and incorrect or incomplete student numbers can lead to inaccurate verification results. 
  • Incomplete results: Education verification screening doesn’t always provide GPA or Honors information.

How Can Employers Verify Education History?

Regardless of its drawbacks, checking genuine credentials is a crucial step for small business hiring managers. 

Before you begin the verification process, establish what education level your job opening requires. Be sure to understand the legalities regarding privacy and the regulations imposed by FERPA—the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act that protects certain privacies.  

With these parameters in mind, the Federal Trade Commission suggests two different ways employers can verify education. 

ask questions during the interview process about the applicant’s education

It’s also important to touch on a candidate’s education during the interview process; if questions about an applicant’s accreditation or degree are met with conflicting responses, you may want to put more effort into verifying that they do hold the certifications promised on their resume.  

Completing Your Screening Process 

Education verification is just one crucial component of a comprehensive employment background check.  

Employers looking to make a great hire should take advantage of pre-employment screening services that look deeper into a candidate’s criminal, employment and credit history.  

ShareAble for Hires offers convenient and affordable employment background checks for small business employers who want top-quality employees. Our thorough investigation can verify identity and Social Security number, credit information, employment background, and criminal history. When used in conjunction with education verification, ShareAble for Hires’ pre-employment screening services can benefit your small business’s hiring processes.

Senior Marketing Analyst, TransUnion ShareAble

Andrea Collatz

She focuses on topics that empower small business owners through data, insights and industry best practices.