Napa Valley Wine Academy

Wine Industry Career Series: Experience vs. Credentials

Wine Industry Career Experience vs. Credentials

Your Wine Industry Career

By Karen Wetzel, WSET L3, NVWE, AWE

At the Napa Valley Wine Academy, we are all about knowledge. As the largest WSET provider outside of London, we’ve helped thousands of students obtain their credentials, many hoping it will help them break into the wine industry. As a career coach, I’m often asked the “chicken or the egg” question:

“Which is more important, industry experience or wine credentials?”


As we discussed in our last article, there are a lot of wine industry jobs that don’t require any wine experience or knowledge, such as finance, logistics, or maintenance. But if you want a more wine-centric position, like distributor sales, wine buyer, wine educator, or hospitality manager at a winery, experience and credentials are both important. The problem is, first you need to get hired to gain experience, and, in most cases, to get hired, you need experience. Therein lies the rub. You are dependent on someone else to help give you the experience you need. But, when it comes to credentials, you have control of your own destiny.


Investing in yourself not only shows a prospective employer that you have the skills you need to fill the position, it also demonstrates your discipline, commitment, and self-motivation—all great attributes for employment in any field. Well-respected credentials, such as WSET and Society of Wine Educators, can help offset your lack of industry experience and give you a competitive edge, moving your resume to the top of the pile.  


There are plenty of courses and credentials to choose from.  Jill Barth of Wine Enthusiast outlines the top programs HERE. And, there are other ways to overcome lack of experience and get your foot in the door.   Click here for some great ideas from Julie Burke, wine writer and educator.  


Experience matters but, when it comes to credentials, you get to drive the bus. There are a lot of great wine schools to choose from. Of course, we hope you’ll trust us with this important endeavor, but whatever course you choose or school you attend, know that you are one step closer to your dream job.  


Next up in our Wine Industry Career Coaching Series, we’ll give your resume a total make-over to help get you noticed. Until then, check out our credentialed courses at Napa Valley Wine Academy.   

The views expressed by the author are hers alone and may not reflect the views of the Napa Valley Wine Academy.



Napa Valley Wine Academy is a pivotal institution for those seeking to advance their wine industry career. Offering a wide range of courses and certifications, the academy caters to both wine enthusiasts and aspiring professionals. Its curriculum, designed and taught by seasoned industry experts, delves deeply into viticulture, winemaking, wine tasting, and pairing. 

This comprehensive approach ensures that students gain a rich understanding of the wine world, equipping them with essential skills for a thriving career in the wine industry. The Academy’s supportive and knowledgeable environment not only enhances personal wine appreciation but also provides a solid foundation for those aiming to achieve professional success in the dynamic and diverse field of wine.



Cancellations of confirmed in-person course enrollments and workshops are accepted up to 60 days before the start of the course. An administration fee of $50 plus the full cost of the study materials and exam fees will be deducted, and the remainder of the course fee refunded to the payee. Separate WSET exam cancellation/transfer rules apply.
Transfers of a confirmed enrollment to another course are accepted 60 days before the course start date with an administration fee of $50.

Cancellations less than 60 days before the in-person course start date or course no shows forfeit any refund/transfer options unless students can provide medical documentation. If medical documentation is provided, students can be transferred to a later course. No refunds will be applied.

Course Transfers cannot be carried forward to the next academic year (which commenced on January 1).

Students are highly encouraged to purchase separate travel insurance.

You've got this!

Flamingo Hotel Las Vegas

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

February 12, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


3555 Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas, NV 89109


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Mariott Santa Ynez

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

April 23, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


555 McMurray Road

Buelton, CA 93427


You've got this!

Art Hotel Denver

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

March 5, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Mountain)


1201 Broadway

Denver, CO 80203


You've got this!

Aloft Nashville

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

February 12, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Central)


1719 West End Ave.

Nashville, TN 37203


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Epicurean Hotel

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

March 19, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Eastern)


1207 S Howard Ave,

Tampa, FL 33606


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Street View of HQ

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

January 22, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


2501 Oak Street

Napa, CA 94559