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Tuesday, September 10, 2013 12:51 AM

Does Your Job Require a College Degree? Should It?

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For those of you who are employed, I have a simple question: Does your job require a college degree?

The reason I ask, is a Gallup poll shows Majority of U.S. Workers Say Job Doesn't Require a Degree.

Here is the question Gallup asked: Does the type of work you do require a bachelor's degree from a college or university or some other advanced academic degree?

From Gallup ...

Fewer than half of adults employed full or part time in the United States, 43%, say the type of work they do generally requires a bachelor's or a more advanced degree. Fifty-seven percent say it does not, unchanged from 2005, but down slightly from 61% in 2002.

High Income and College Go Together

There is no real difference between male and female workers' perceptions of their need for a college degree, and there are only slight differences by age, with middle-aged workers the most likely to say their job requires a degree.

However, there are significant differences by income, with the majority of workers earning $75,000 or more saying a degree is necessary, compared with no more than a third of lower-income workers.

Bottom Line

The majority of high school graduates in the U.S. go straight to college, no doubt believing that a college degree will open career doors and unlock higher lifetime earning potential. Positive expectations about attending college are generally well founded: government statistics show that four-year college graduates will earn roughly double what college nongraduates make over their lifetime -- amounting to an additional million dollars.

However, changes in the nation's economy in the past decade, coupled with a revolution in technology, may be challenging the traditional college bargain. The high tuition and lost-opportunity costs associated with spending four or more years getting a bachelor's degree may not be as palatable when weighed against a persistently anemic job market.
Cost is the Problem

The problem is not the degree. Rather, it's what you have to pay to get the degree. For those who end up trapped in fast food jobs, retail service, and numerous trades, the cost of college cannot possibly be worth the price.

And that assumes one lands a job. Millions don't. So what good is a degree in English literature or other Liberal Arts program going to do for you?

Hope or Hopeless?

For those trapped in student debt, with no job, there is not a lot of hope. For those still in grade school, help is on the way as noted in Future of Education is At Hand: Online, Accredited, Affordable, Useful

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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