Obtaining your bachelor’s degree used to be a way for students to stand out from others in a highly competitive job market. As of 2019, however, one in three adults have earned a four-year degree, making it common to be one of many in a pool of job applicants with this educational achievement.
Does this mean that a bachelor’s degree doesn’t have value? Is it even important in today’s world of start-up entrepreneurs and self-employed business owners? Is it a worthwhile investment considering that student loan debt may be involved?
The answer, ultimately, is that it really depends on you. Your unique life goals, including your career aspirations, will determine if the bachelor’s degree is a good fit.
For many people, though, earning a college degree is important to their success in today’s market. Let’s look at the benefits of earning a bachelor’s degree, and how your personal educational goals and lifestyle choices should be considered in making this major decision.
1. Increased Access to Job Opportunities
Having a bachelor’s degree opens up rewarding opportunities that might have otherwise been inaccessible. College graduates see 57 percent more job opportunities than non-graduates, and it is estimated that, by 2020, two-thirds of all jobs will require postsecondary education. A degree enables you to qualify for these additional opportunities and offers you more flexibility in where you choose to work.
Not only are there more jobs available to degree holders than high school graduates, but the existing jobs are also more accessible. For job seekers, these online job postings are a primary tool for finding and applying to available roles. While more than 80 percent of all job openings for workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher are advertised online, only 50 percent of jobs requiring a high school diploma are posted online, making it harder for these workers to connect with prospective employers.
2. Preparation for a Specialized Career
As the world changes, the job market changes with it. Technology, education, and health are three of the most rapidly growing fields for a good reason; they evolve so often that only the most accomplished individuals can do the work. Getting a bachelor’s degree will help you learn the specific skills and habits needed to make a living in these areas.
While not all degrees offer a direct route to a particular job (English, philosophy, or political science, for example), many are created with a specific career path in mind. An educational degree, for example, is designed as a funnel for teaching jobs; some health degrees also have very specialized jobs waiting at the end for those who complete them.
3. Increased Marketability
Having a bachelor’s degree will keep you in demand as the need for skilled, college-educated workers continues to rise.
Over 80 percent of jobs in four of the fastest-growing occupations—healthcare, STEM, education, and government services—demand postsecondary education. Thus, it’s estimated that, by 2020, there will be 13 million available jobs requiring bachelor’s degrees. Although 36 percent of adults ages 25 to 36 currently hold a college degree, the United States will still fall short of meeting employer demand by five million qualified workers by 2025.
On your path to earning a bachelor’s degree, you’ll gain skills that will give you a competitive advantage in the job market.
4. Increased Earning Potential
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has shared the average salary for those with various education levels, and the data is clear: The greater your level of education, the higher you can expect your salary to be.
- Those who have not earned a high school diploma can expect to earn an average of $520 per week, or $27,040 annually.
- Those with high school diplomas can expect to earn an average of $712 weekly, or $37,024 annually.
- Associate degree holders earn an average of $836 per week or $43,472 per year.
Earning a bachelor’s degree brings with it a substantial jump in pay. Bachelor’s degree holders make an average of $1,173 per week, or $60,996 each year. That is more than $17,500 more than associate degree holders and nearly $25,000 more than high school graduates.
5. Economic Stability
Of the 11.6 million jobs created since 2010, over 8.4 million jobs—95 percent—have gone to bachelor’s degree holders. Meanwhile, jobs for high school graduates have only grown by 80,000. It makes sense, then, that bachelor’s degree holders have a significantly lower rate of unemployment than high school graduates. In 2014, the unemployment rate for 25- to 34-year-olds with bachelor’s degrees was just below four percent, while over 12 percent of high school graduates in that age range remained unemployed.
Consequently, individuals without a degree are three times more likely to be living in poverty. According to Pew Research Center, only six percent of bachelor’s degree holders live below the poverty line, while an alarming 22 percent of people without a college degree live in poverty. Earning a bachelor’s degree will help afford you economic stability and security for the future.
The Rewards Are Plentiful
While earning a bachelor’s degree is a big commitment, the rewards are plentiful and within your reach. A brighter economic future, more career possibilities, and a greater sense of personal fulfillment are all possible with the acquisition of a bachelor’s degree.