Americans Favor College Education in the Workforce

Having a bachelor’s degree remains an important advantage in many sectors of the U.S. labor market. 

WHY THIS MATTERS – Of the 11.6 million jobs created between 2010 and 2016, three out of four required a bachelor’s degree, and just one out of every 100 required a high school diploma or less. 

THE NUMBERS – Based on a survey conducted by YouGov of the 20 jobs asked about, a high school teacher was the one for which the highest percentage of Americans said a college degree should be required.  

When asked, “Do you think the following job should or should not require a college degree?” 

  • 81 percent – said high school teachers should be required to have a college degree.  
  • 71 percent – said a pharmaceutical technician should attain a college degree.  
  • 66 percent – said a paralegal should have a college degree.  
  • 63 percent – said an airline pilot should have a college degree.  
  • 60 percent – said a dental hygienist should have a college degree.  
  • 59 percent – said a data analyst should have a college degree.  
  • 58 percent – said a journalist should have a college degree.  
  • 56 percent – said a stockbroker should have a college degree.  
  • 51 percent – said a police officer should have a college degree.  

Majorities also favor college degrees for careers that directly affect public safety or health, such as airline pilots and dental hygienists. On the other hand, traditional trade jobs, such as electricians (34 percent), plumbers (18 percent), and truck drivers (15 percent), were less likely to be seen as requiring a degree.  

AGE GAP – The jobs with the most significant age gap with more adults under 45 than older adults thinking they should require a degree are administrative assistants, production supervisors, home health aides, truck drivers, and sales representatives. The survey concluded that American adults under 45 are more likely to believe specific jobs should require a college degree. 

When asked, “Does your current job require a college degree?”  

  • 81 percent – of postgraduates say “yes.” 
  • 64 percent – of people with a college degree only say “yes.” 
  • 53 percent – of 18-29-year-olds say “yes.” 
  • 52 percent – of people in cities said “yes.” 
  • 51 percent – of Democrats said “yes.” 

THE BOTTOM LINE – Today, nearly 60 percent of all jobs in the U.S. economy require higher education. With that said, this survey revealed that a majority of Americans support careers with a college education. Nevertheless, younger adults are more likely than older ones to believe that certain jobs should require a college education. 


YouGov America – Which jobs do Americans think should require a college degree?