Now Hiring: Six Occupations Not Requiring a 4-Year Degree

Pursuit of a 4-year college degree has been the default expectation for many high school graduates for decades. Rather than applying for jobs to enter the workforce, high school seniors seeking a career that could give them a more prosperous future would instead be mailing in college applications. Of course, the push for more students to attend college is not without justification. In general, lifetime earnings tend to increase in conjunction with the level of higher education degree attainment.

How Much Education Is Really Needed?

The amount of education someone needs for specific career is not necessarily simple to determine. As an example of this, in this blog we attempt to answer the question: “How much education do you need to be a registered nurse?”

2016 Employment Projections by Educational Requirements

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its employment projections for 2016, forecasting the change of employment by occupation ten years into the future. Included in this analysis is the attribution of each occupation to a specific category of “typical education for entry.” Grouping the employment numbers and estimates by these categories, we are able to see how employment is likely to change across various levels of educational attainment.

Shorter Certifications on the Rise

For programs less than two years in length, more students have been opting for awards that take less than a year to complete. The NCES tracks two levels of awards lower than an associate’s degree: (1) certificates less than one year and (2) certificates more than one year but less than two years. From 2012 to 2016,[1] completions[2] for certificates between one and two years in length declined 12.6% while completions for certificates less than one year in length expanded 4.9%.

How Colleges Can Attract Workers

In 2008, PEW Research published a study investigating the reasons people either remain in or move away from their hometown. The study found that—among characteristics measured such as gender, age, race, and family income—the largest difference between those who moved and those who stayed centered around educational attainment. Among the people surveyed, 77% of the college graduates had moved at least once, compared to only 56% of those without college degrees.