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Is a Four Year-Degree Always Right for Students?

NCCER and BYF Promote Careers in Construction

Have you ever wondered if a four-year degree is the right educational path for your children? In recent years, public opinion has pushed for more people to go to college. Young students are told that a bachelor’s degree or even further education is the only way to stand out and get a successful job. 

As momentum has built for higher education, so has the national student debt and underemployment rates for recent graduates. Is it true that a full college education is the best route for young adults? Here are some facts that might make you change your opinion. 

An Oversaturated Market for Graduates The assumption that acquiring a four-year college degree guarantees their future employment in a high paying job is widely accepted. However, the current job market for recent graduates is significantly oversaturated. More people are entering the workforce than there are jobs available. 

From 2015 to 2024, there will be 1,921,200 people entering the labor market with a bachelor’s degree each year. However, during that same time span, there will only be an average of 955,320 jobs that will require a bachelor’s degree each year. 

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree still does not guarantee the recipient will have the skills employers are specifically looking for. Even with lots of education, graduates might not have the talents or experience that are needed for open positions. 

The 1-2-7 Rule Another widely accepted belief is that it is not possible to get a job without at least a four-year degree. However, the vast majority of jobs in the U.S. require less than a four-year degree! 

While 80 percent of young people at age 18 or 19 expect to earn a bachelor’s degree, only 33 percent of jobs require a bachelor’s or master’s degree. For every 10 jobs that are produced in the U.S. labor market, only one job will require an employee with a master’s or doctoral degree. Two of the 10 jobs will need employees who have a four-year college degree. 

The remaining seven jobs? A technical degree, an apprenticeship, or craft training certificate is all that is needed. Contrary to common perception, the current job market is very favorable to those without a major college degree. 

Other Options Are you absolutely confident that a four-year degree is the right educational path for the young adults you care about? If not, consider researching more about a career in the construction industry. Craft professionals have competitive wages, minimal to no debt and high job satisfaction. And with a high demand for workers in the industry, finding a job is easy and quick. 

Visit discover.byf.org/map to learn more about how someone can join the construction industry.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This blog was originally published on Discover More (discover.byf.org), a collaborative effort between the National Center for Construction Education Research (NCCER) and Build Your Future (BYF).

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