Top five growing industries for those without a bachelor’s degree

Top five growing industries for those without a bachelor’s degree

It’s easy to get the impression these days that it’s close to impossible to find a good job without a bachelor’s degree, but this is not the full story. Yes, it is true that workers with a BA have access to a larger array of jobs than those without one, but it is also true that a surprising number of jobs are available to workers with less than a BA. The catch? These jobs require higher skills and some postsecondary education and training beyond high school.

Our new report, Good Jobs That Pay without a BA, finds that there are currently 30 million good jobs for those without a bachelor’s degree that have median annual earnings of $55,000, and pay a minimum of $35,000 per year. The nature of those jobs is changing, however. In the past, job growth was concentrated in blue-collar industries such as manufacturing and construction.

Twenty-five years ago, a machinist was a typical, good manufacturing job, paying upwards of $44,000 per year. Today’s well-paying jobs have shifted to jobs in skilled services such as computer support technicians, sales representatives, and engineering technicians.

It used to be that workers, particular men, could step successfully into the job market armed with no more than a high school diploma. Workers with a high school diploma still have the largest share of good jobs that pay without a BA, but their share is declining: they have lost 1 million good jobs since 1992. Meanwhile, workers with an associate’s degree are quickly gaining good jobs, up 3.2 million since 1992.

So, where are the good jobs? These five industries have had the most growth in good jobs since 1991.

  • Leisure and hospitality and personal services – gained 1,380,000 jobs
  • Healthcare services – gained 1,330,000 jobs
  • Financial consulting/business services – gained 980,000 jobs
  • Education services – gained 260,000 jobs
  • Government services – gained 70,000 jobs

All of these jobs typically require some form of post-secondary credential, such as an associate’s degree, certificate, or license.

These types of jobs will continue to demand workers going forward. While this is good news for workers with less than a BA, it’s also a signal that being a lifelong learner means workers must continue to upskill throughout their careers to meet the demands of the new non-BA job market.

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Dr Carnevale is Director and Research Professor of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, an independent, nonprofit research and policy institute affiliated with the Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy that studies the link between education, career qualifications, and workforce demands.



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