Does Having a Degree Vs. No Degree Affect Employment Opportunities?
If you're unsure about whether earning a college degree is right for you, read on. Learn whether your employment opportunities will be better if you do earn a college degree.
The Effects of Education on Employment Opportunities
According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) in May 2019, 22.1% of all unemployed Americans are in the 25 to 34 age range. The U.S. Census Bureau, on the other hand, reports that in 2017, 11.1% of individuals between the ages of 25 and 34 were currently not working, a figure that was much higher than the national jobless rate of 5.3% at that time (www.census.gov).
Despite these troubling statistics, one demographic is holding up well despite the economic downturn: college graduates. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2017 that only 2.6% of college graduates were unemployed, far less than the national average. When compared with other education levels, individuals with a college degree were the only group that had better job prospects in 2017 than when the recession started.
A college degree, however, is not a guarantee. Your area of study will almost certainly affect your ability to get a job, according to a report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES, nces.ed.gov). For example, only 1% of students with a degree in general education were unemployed in 2017. Conversely, those who choose to study the liberal arts and humanities have much dimmer prospects, with a 5.8% unemployment rate after graduation.
Important Facts About Employment Opportunities with a Degree vs. No Degree
|Wind Turbine Service Technician||Physical Therapist||Home Health Aide|
|Required Education||Some college||Doctoral/Professional degree||No formal education requirement|
|Work Environment||On-site||Healthcare facilities||Client's residence|
|Median Salary (2018)||$54,370||$87,930||$24,200|
|Projected Job Growth (2016-2026)||96%||28%||47%|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Openings in 2016 and 2026
The BLS reported in 2016 that the number of jobs available for those who held a high school diploma or equivalent was about 61.5 million. The number of jobs for those with an associate's degree was roughly 3.6 million and with a bachelor's degree were almost 33.4 million. Jobs for master's degree holders were almost 2.7 million and those with a doctoral or professional degree had about 4.2 million jobs available. The largest projected job growth for 2016-2026, about 16.7%, was expected in jobs that required a master's degree.
Job Opportunities in Top Growing Occupations
The BLS also reported on the top growing occupations for 2016-2026, with the report showing that most of the fastest growing jobs required some form of postsecondary education. Some of the occupations on the report that require a college education included physical therapist assistants, nurse practitioners, and statisticians. Some occupations on the list, such as home health aides, did not require a degree, making it a possible choice for professionals with only a high school degree.