Not to denigrate bachelor’s degrees – I’ve got one – but there are 30 million good jobs nationally that don’t require one, a recent report from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University indicates.
This report – Good Jobs that Pay Without a BA – adds some fodder and solid research to the discussion about whether everyone needs a bachelor’s degree.
What is a ‘Good Job?’
The center defines a good job as one that pays $35,000 per year for someone under age 45, and $45,000 per year for workers 45 and older. In 2015, the median earnings in Colorado for good jobs was $57,000 per year.
The majority of good jobs are held by people with bachelor’s degrees, but other credentials beyond high school are critical for the rest.
‘More Associate-Degree Holders are Getting Good Jobs’
“Education matters,” the center states. “More and more, good jobs are going to workers with bachelor’s degrees, who now hold 55 percent of all good jobs. For workers without BAs, associate degrees have become increasingly important for finding a good job. More associate-degree holders are getting good jobs, while the number of these jobs held by workers with a high school diploma or less is in decline.”
In Colorado, the center reports that the share of high school graduates holding non-bachelor’s degree good jobs declined by 4 percentage points from 1991 to 2015 while the share held by associate-degree workers increased by 12 percentage points.
Contributing to the picture, the Colorado Department of Higher Education reported in February that the statewide “attainment rate” – the percentage of adults ages 25-34 with a credential beyond high school – rose to 56.2 percent in 2017 from 55 percent in 2016. Certificates and associate degrees are credentials, as are higher degrees. The state’s goal is a 66 percent attainment rate by 2025.
Still, there are gaps among ethnic groups. Although Hispanic/Latino (28.8 percent), African American (45 percent), and Native American (37.7 percent) groups all saw improvements, they lag the rate for whites.
White Collar Overtakes Blue Collar
Blue collar – think manufacturing, construction, and mining – also is shifting to white collar or even new collar – think health and financial services and any industry needing computer skills. In Colorado, where manufacturing and construction remain strong, the center reports a 19 percent increase in blue-collar jobs from 1991 to 2015. Skilled-services jobs, however, have surged even more, with an 88 percent increase. As of 2015, skilled-services industries employed 258,000 workers in Colorado while blue-collar industries employed 249,000.
My conclusion: Yes, bachelor’s degrees are important for many to get that “good job,” but good jobs also are awaiting people with associate degrees and certificates from a community college.