Higher Levels of Education Now Required for Many Jobs

By Chris Hassan
Posted December 05, 2012 12:00 PM

Certain occupations no longer allow individuals to skip college.
Certain occupations no longer allow individuals to skip college.
The economic ups and downs of the past few years have shown many Americans just how important having a bachelor's degree is for career mobility. Further proving the importance of continuing one's education beyond high school are the findings of a 2010 report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, which revealed that by 2018, 23% of the workforce will be required to hold a bachelor's degree.

This research is significant, as it reflects the growing importance of a college education in the job market. In 1992, only 19% of workers were expected to hold bachelor's degrees. By 2007, this figure had edged up to 21%. This percentage continues to grow because many professions that never required the undergraduate credential now ask that candidates hold one.

Jobs That Now Require a Bachelor's Degree

Recently, The New York Times asked Burning Glass, a company dedicated to matching people with the right jobs, to identify a few occupations that have experienced the most "up-credentialing" in the past five years. Based on job ads, dental laboratory technicians saw a 175% increase between 2007 and 2012 in the number of job postings asking that candidates hold a bachelor's degree. Chemical equipment operators and tenders also experienced a large growth of 83% during the same time frame.

The number of job ads asking for bachelor's degree-holding candidates rose by 55% for medical equipment preparers, 43% for buyers and purchasing agents of farm products, and 38% for both dental hygienists and electronics engineering technicians. Architectural drafters, cargo and freight agents, photographers, claims adjusters, examiners and investigators were among the other occupations that now require prospective workers to hold a four-year degree, while only a few years ago this was not usually the case.

Reasons for Increased Education Requirements

The Times reports that many professions require workers to possess a more advanced set of skills than they did in the past.

"Supply chain management has gotten more complex, and companies have started to bring in quantitative expertise into roles like 'purchasing manager' that formerly would have been filled face-to-face by someone on the floor," Matthew Sigelman, the chief executive officer of Burning Glass, told the Times.

In some cases, employers are simply seeking bachelor's degree holders, as they believe these individuals are just superior candidates to those who have not attended college.

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