Is your degree going to provide you the boost you expect?
A college degree has always been regarded as a starting point to a rewarding future, but that seems to be less the case these days. Here we take a look at which degrees have more people working in careers that don’t really require the degree.
Something that comes up often in conversations about careers and education is
unemployment. Will this degree get me a job? Is this career going to have
openings when I’m done with school? And so on. These are all valid questions,
but often forgotten are the levels of underemployment present throughout the
job market. Is it worth getting a degree if, although you can get a job, that
job doesn’t make use of your years of time and money invested?
To try to answer this question, we began by looking at majors and seeing how
many holders of that degree are in jobs where less than 1/3 of their coworkers
have a bachelor’s degree.
In this chart, the larger the dot, the higher the number of people that have a
degree in that major relative to other majors, and the further to the right
the dot is, the more people are in jobs we define as underemployment. This
doesn’t consider whether people are employed in jobs that use their specific
degree, just that other people in their career have a lower level of education.
Underemployment by degree for workers with a bachelor’s degree.
2017 ACS microdata
Just looking at this gives us some insight into the trends for some broad
categories and shows us which of the majors break the trend. However, to really
understand where underemployment is an issue, we need to look at specific
degrees and the careers that people with that degree are going into.
Let’s consider one of the degrees that has higher underemployment and a fairly
large population, Criminal Justice and Fire Protection.
Careers for workers with a bachelor’s degree in the degree group Criminal Justice and Fire Protection.
2017 ACS microdata
Among people with this degree, 40% go into a career that doesn’t require a
bachelor’s degree. However, the top two careers that appear to not require a
degree still (by name, at least) seem related to the degree. Does this mean
that your degree is wasted if you go into that career? To answer that
question, we can look at the salaries of people in this career based on their
Salary by education level for Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers.
2017 ACS microdata
While it’s true that many people with this career do not have a degree, those
that do see a pretty marked increase in salary. The takeaway here is that
even with a degree that has underemployment, having the degree can still make
a difference in the career that you choose.
If you have any doubts, though, we can help you find a major that you can be
sure will lead you to financial success in your career.
Use the interactive chart below to explore degrees. Selecting a degree will
display the corresponding careers where workers with that degree are employed.
Selecting a degree or career on the sankey will take you to the detail page
where you can learn more.
Select a degree to see where the graduates are working. Use the checkbox
below to see the data for young workers only.
Compare to only younger workers
Comparing with workers under 35 can give you insight into how this degree will help you early in your career
Find degrees in this broad program area
Then select a program dot or use this list
Business Management and Administration
Careers for workers with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Administration.
To determine salaries for bachelor’s-only workers in this study we required the
following of the person-level records: education at a bachelor’s and not graduate level,
age 65 or younger, and weekly work hours of 35 or higher.