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Does a College Degree Still Help You Land a Job?

Does a College Degree Still Help You Land a Job?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Rising Underemployment

Higher education doesn’t come easy. Between applications and grades, there are also the finances of it all. So do you still need a college degree to land a job? It depends.

More than half of college graduates (52%) are “underemployed”, working in a job that doesn’t require a degree, at the time of graduation, according to a report from the Burning Glass Institute and Strada Education Foundation. That’s much more compared with a 2018 study, raising the question whether a college degree is still necessary to land a certain type of job.

Changing Job Landscape

As so often, it’s not a simple answer. In this case, much still depends on the degree and job in question even as more companies have removed degree requirements for open positions in the face of worker shortages.

The report found workers with STEM degrees such as computer science, engineering, math, finance, or accounting saw the lowest levels of underemployment out of college: less than 37%.

The reality is different for graduates with degrees in public safety, recreation, or general business fields like marketing, where underemployment was well over 50%.

Importance of the First Job

Education is important, but so is on-the-job training. A worker’s first job out of college could carry nearly as much weight as the degree they did, according to the study.

Nearly 80% of graduates who secured a job requiring a degree after graduation were still working a college-level job five years later, per the report. The same was true on the other end of the spectrum. Almost 3 in 4 workers who were underemployed upon graduation were still underemployed ten years later.

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