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NextGen Magazine


Bureau of Labor Statistics Report Estimates Jobs Requiring Master's Degree or Higher Will Grow Faster Than All Others

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jan 30, 2019
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A recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs that require a master's degree at a minimum will grow faster than jobs requiring bachelor's, associate and especially high school degrees. Overall, the BLS expects that educational standards for jobs will continue rising, and more jobs will require at least some postsecondary education. 

"Occupations that require a postsecondary credential are projected to grow faster than occupations that do not require postsecondary education for entry,"said the report. "Occupations that typically require a master’s degree, the smallest group in terms of base-year employment in 2016, are projected to grow at a rate of 16.7 percent through 2026. That’s more than twice the rate of growth projected for all occupations, 7.4 percent." 

Following close behind, at a little less than 15 percent, are jobs that require a doctorate. 

However while jobs requiring advanced degrees were projected to grow the fastest, as an absolute measure of total jobs they will remain in the minority. The report said that the two occupational groups that are projected to grow the fastest—health care support occupations and personal care and service occupations—typically do not have postsecondary education requirements at entry-level positions. However. it also said that these two groups had median wages below those of the overall population, which has tended to be the case for jobs that do not have this barrier to entry. 

However, of the 10 fastest-growing specific occupations (such as home health care aide versus the overall category of health care support), four will require a master's degree or higher, and most require postsecondary education for entry-level positions. The exception was the fastest growing of all of them, solar photovoltaic installer, which typically needs only a high school education. 

The report calls to mind a 2017 study from Harvard Business School that said the number of jobs requiring an advanced degree was rising, even though the nature of the jobs hadn't changed. For instance, while 67 percent of open production worker supervisor positions required a college degree, only 16 percent of workers already employed in this position actually have one. This 51 percent difference was referred to in the study as a "degree gap." 

Other occupations with significant degree gaps includ executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants (47 percent), supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers (44 percent), supervisors of landscaping, lawn service and groundskeeping workers (55 percent), transportation, storage and distribution managers (44 percent), and surveying and mapping technicians (40 percent). 

The Harvard study said this amounted to "degree inflation" and estimated that about 6 million jobs are at risk of it. What that study found was that, in general, employers were using a college degree as an overall proxy for both hard (70 percent) and soft (60 percent) skills. For many companies, a bachelor’s degree signals that job candidates have put themselves through four years of college, meaning that they have certain life experiences, commitment levels and organization levels.