In Defense of Pins: Part 2

I was so excited about some recent findings with the Guild of Sommeliers, I had to do a quick post.

TO RECAP: I recently gave my thoughts on a recent Punch Article, on why I value various Wine Certifications.

Just to clarify, I do not have a love/hate relationship with these certifications.

I LOVE THEM. I am a wine certification junkie.

I honestly LOVE them the way only a huge nerd could. It is as if these certifications were made for ME. Seriously. My dissertation is about study strategies. 

In my previous post, I merely wanted to highlight 1) the pros and cons of these formal wine educational courses and 2) the fact that while they are one measure of merit, they are not the sole-determinant of success, though they are something I value greatly.

SO, why Part 2 of In Defense of Pins?

The Guild of Sommeliers has just posted recent survey results for the wine industry....

And guess what!?

Those with Certifications have higher salaries!!


But...before I get TOO excited...

I should put on the "Science-Hat" for a second.

This is just correlational research.

Correlation does not equal causation!

In other words, getting more certifications might not be the direct cause, or lead directly to, higher salaries. 

Some initial thoughts...

1) Maybe more certifications also co-vary with more years of experience?

Since those who get paid more also have more years of experience, aren't they also more likely to have more certifications? And if so, what is driving higher salaries? Experience or Certifications? At the moment, we don't know the breakdown of experience within each education level, but this is an easy fix! Just a matter of analyzing the data while controlling for years of experience. I have a hunch, education will still be a predictor of salary!

2) Is there a lurking Third Variable of Personality/Work Ethic/Passion? 

To play devil's advocate, how much of the higher salary is driven by the certifications themselves? OR could it be the DRIVE and PASSION of those who pursue formal wine education that lead them to both get better paying positions AND ALSO certifications? 

In theory, those who pursue these higher levels of certification might have a) increased drive/work ethic b) passion/enthusiasm c) more Type "A" personalities. Any of these might independently lead to raises and promotions. 

Of course, this is a bit more tricky to disentangle, and I admit, controversial. Personally, I think it is a little of both - indirect personality factors AND a direct benefit of the classes. Of course, those who are not "certified" probably CARE just as much and have just as much drive/passion on the floor, but maybe they are more "Type B" personalities. Maybe they are not the ones to seek for the higher-paying-type positions...


This is all speculation of course, and these analyses are way beyond the scope of this project. I always just think it is good not to take everything at face value, to take a step back, and to think critically. Of course, the simple explanation of Education leading DIRECTLY to higher salaries could very much be valid!

Again, I am simply playing devil's advocate.

And importantly, I am not knocking certifications. 

FOR ME, formal wine certifications are worth all the money, time, and effort.

The knowledge, skills, and connections I have made are tremendous. I would not be where I am without the push from these educational pursuits. 

And who knows, maybe I'll be rewarded with higher pay in the long-run.