February 22, 2011

How Many Jobs Actually Require College?

It seems that everyone thinks you need to go to college nowadays.    The job market doesn't really require that everyone get a degree however.   Exactly how many jobs in America actually require college degrees?

To make it easy I decided to lump jobs together into general occupational groups.   I got the data out of the BLS Occupational Employment and Wages report from May 2009.   That data is a little dated but the general trends really haven't changed a whole lot since then.

Note: I'm grouping jobs into general categories based on larger occupational groups.   This is all just approximate.   There are undoubtedly various exceptions to the groups I've defined.



Jobs that generally require a 4 year college degree or more :

These are the jobs that traditionally require a college degree.   You generally don't become an engineer, accountant or nurse without a college degree.   There are exceptions to the rule but the general expectation is that people in these careers will need a 4 year degree or more to get employment in the field.




Million Jobs Median/hr
Business 6 $28.32
Computer & math science 3.3 $35.05
Architecture & engineering 2.4 $33.07
life, physical & social sciences 1.3 $28.03
lawyers 0.556 $54
education, training & library 8.4 $21.74
healthcare practitioner & technical 7.2 $27.74

29.156 $32.56



Jobs that may or may not require a degree:

These jobs are in careers that might need a degree but often don't.   It may depend on the employer or the local regulations in some cases.   You may be able to succeed in these fields without a degree and a degree may not be a requirement at all.  



Million Jobs Median/hr
community & social services 1.89 $18.74
other legal 0.443 $12.48
art, design, entertainment 1.7 $20.41
healthcare support 3.8 $11.89
protective services 3.1 $17.39
sales & related 13.7 $11.51

24.633 $15.40

Jobs that generally do not require college : 

Most general service level jobs and blue collar jobs do not require college degrees.  There are some exceptions but in general the expectation that college isn't required for these fields.



Million Jobs Median/hr
food prep 11.2 $8.89
building cleaning 7 maintenance 4.2 $10.75
personal care & service 3.4 $9.99
office & admin support 22.3 $14.62
farm, fish, forestry 0.419 $9.43
construction 5.7 $18.64
installation, maintenance & repair 5.11 $19.04
production occupations 8.9 $14.41
transport & material moving 8.8 $13.46

70.029 $13.25


Management jobs :

Management positions often require degrees, but there are also many managers who have worked their way up the corporate ladder and have no degree.   It will depend on the employer and the field.  

There are 6.1 million management jobs and the median hourly wage is $42.95.

Percent of jobs that do and don't need college:

As a whole there are about 130 million jobs accounted for.   The majority of the jobs do NOT require college.   Here is how the pie looks:


Median wages by education requirements:

Jobs that require college pay more on average.   Jobs that do not require pay less.    This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.   Here is a graphic showing how the median hourly wages per occupational group compare.   Blue is management, green is jobs that require college, yellow are the jobs that might require college and orange are the jobs that do not require college:



Occupational group wage min and max ranges are :
College : $21.74 to $54.00
Maybe : $11.51 to $20.41
No college : $8.89 to $19.04


Bottom Line:   Most jobs don't require college.    Jobs that require college fetch higher wages.

1 comment:

  1. It also seems that the jobs that require college and pay more look like they are farther removed from actually interacting with people and community and instead you work for an "industry", whether that be law, medical, or education. The farther on down you scroll, the less you get paid, but the more you seem to be a part of something more intimate, and the least-paid are in the most direct contact with their fellow man. I wonder why that is? It's just an observation I had and I wonder if that is how the system has had it going for so long, since everyone seems obsessed with 'getting ahead' but their relationships suffer as a result

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