Most new jobs do not require a college degree

by Grace

63 percent of this decade’s new jobs will not require a college degree.

Industries and occupations related to health care, personal care and social assistance, and construction are projected to have the fastest job growth between 2010 and 2020.

The upward trend in healthcare jobs would seem to be consistent with a United States that is beginning to resemble Europe, with a declining birth rate and an aging population.

As the population continues to age, older groups of Americans are expected to have more rapid growth than younger groups. The 16-to-24 age group is anticipated to experience little population change, with a growth rate of 0.3 percent during 2010–20, while the population ages 25 to 34 is projected to grow 10.5 percent over same timeframe. Meanwhile, the 45-to-54 age group is expected to shrink by 7.6 percent, reflecting the slower birthrate following the baby-boom generation. As the baby boomers continue to age, the 55-and-older population is projected to increase by 29.1 percent, more than any other age group.

Low wages
With only one spouse working, most of these jobs that do not require a bachelor’s degree are unlikely to support a middle-class lifestyle for a family.  But for a two-wage earner family, these jobs can provide a reasonably comfortable lifestyle.  Here are the income figures for the five occupations projected to add the greatest number of new jobs.

Table 2. Occupations with the largest numeric growth, projected 2010-20

  Occupation Number of new jobs added Percent change Wages (May 2010 median) Entry-Level Education Related Work Experience On-the-job Training
Registered Nurses 711,900 26 $64,690 Associate’s degree None None
Retail Salespersons 706,800 17 20,670 Less than high school None Short-term on-the-job training
Home Health Aides 706,300 69 20,560 Less than high school None Short-term on-the-job training
Personal Care Aides 607,000 70 19,640 Less than high school None Short-term on-the-job training
Office Clerks, General 489,500 17 26,610 High school diploma or equivalent None Short-term on-the-job training

A married couple working at any combination of these jobs would land above the “contemporary” poverty line – $33,686 for a family of four.  Based on the median wages from this chart, a registered nurse and a personal care aide would bring in a total income of $84,330.  However, it should be noted that the trend is for a nurse with a bachelor’s degree or a diploma to fare better in the job market.  But even combining the two lowest paying jobs from this chart would generate $40,200 total annual income.

Related:  ‘How Many College Graduates Does the U.S. Labor Force Really Need?’ (Cost of College)


One Comment to “Most new jobs do not require a college degree”

  1. We are currently are trying to decide the value of a 529 and whether or not a 4 year degree is a good fit for our kids. By the time they are adults, what will the environment look like and where should they head?


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