Not All Good Jobs Require 4-Year College

Mobile Share Email Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

The number of quality jobs held by workers with a two-year associate’s degree rocketed from 3.8 million in 1991 to 7 million in 2015.  Total employment over that time didn’t come close to that rate of growth.

“There are still good jobs out there for workers who don’t have a four-year degree,” explains the above video by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. These jobs, which require a bit more education and training than high school, typically pay $55,000 per year.

The video and accompanying report, released in late July, introduce a three-year project to document and analyze employment opportunities for people who do not want, or haven’t been able to obtain, a college degree. This blog will watch for the center’s future reports on this important topic.

A bachelor’s degree is, to be sure, still the surest route to a job with good pay, health and retirement benefits, and longer-term career prospects. But that jaw-dropping 83 percent increase in non-B.A. jobs is a strong indication the job market is changing in important ways that benefit people who choose alternatives, such as occupational certificates, associate’s degrees, or a two-year community college degree, or who choose to spend some time in college but not the full four years.

“The reason behind this is this whole idea of upscaling,” said Jeff Strohl, the center’s director of research. High-tech manufacturing and automotive repair are good examples. In manufacturing, “we’ve gone from needing a wrench to needing a computer. An automotive mechanic used to be mechanic, and now they’re technicians who need a computer to work on your car. This has led to a big increase in good jobs.”

Yes, the segment of the labor force without a college degree is, to some extent, still a story of a glass half-full: the supply of good jobs in the two traditional industries that were once their largest employers – transportation and manufacturing – is shrinking.

But these losses are being nicely offset by the expansion of other skilled jobs in occupations that have become more computer-oriented versions of past occupations.  Specifically, training and education – short of a B.A. – can lead to work in fields such as architectural engineering, banking, health, automotive repair, and computers.

College has never been the only route to success. This video sheds light on where the path will lead in the future.

Squared Away writer Kim Blanton invites you to follow us on Twitter @SquaredAwayBC. To stay current on our blog, please join our free email list. You’ll receive just one email each week – with links to the two new posts for that week – when you sign up here.


On the employer’s part, it has always been an important consideration to see experience alongside qualification. A degree from a reputable college may land you a great job, but given the economic challenges faced by the businesses, they are now considering ways to cut cost and find an applicant to fill the position without costing them a huge payroll.

Michele Cooper

DO clarify what your job duties are with your manager. Though you may think you have a good idea of your job duties and expectations, it’s wise to talk to your boss about them anyway in case you’re missing something. Doing this confirms with your manager what your to-do list should look like and also shows that you’re eager to do your job well.

Comments are closed.