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 2015, 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 why a bachelor’s degree is important to many individuals, and how your personal educational goals and lifestyle choices should be considered in making this major decision.
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1. Many Jobs Require a Bachelor’s Degree.
It’s no accident that one in three adults have their bachelor’s. Many have found that it’s the only way to get even the most entry-level job for some industries. Science and technology fields, education, and even some business sectors want their new employees to have demonstrated the type of commitment that comes from pursuing a four-year education. While 37 percent of jobs in 2016 required some kind of post-high school education, 21 percent required a bachelor’s degree, specifically. That means that, even if you’ve taken the initiative to get a certificate or associate’s degree, there is a far larger world of employment opportunities available to those who move on to the next level of education.
2. Earning a Bachelor’s Degree Can Prepare You for a Specific Job.
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. Those Who Get a Bachelor’s Degree Earn More.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has shared the average salary for those with various education levels, and the data is striking:
- Those earning less than a high school diploma average $20,350 in annual salary.
- $35,580 is the average income for someone with a high school diploma or GED.
- Graduates of an associate’s program earn an average of $58,240.
- Getting a bachelor’s degree will raise your average annual income to $68,190.
There’s quite a jump between education levels, with a bachelor’s degree providing almost $10,000 in additional annual income over an associate’s degree.
4. Networking Is Easier with a Bachelor’s Degree.
In today’s job market, building and maintaining a professional network is critical to success. Certain aspects of getting a degree, from interning to volunteering, are designed to help you meet the people who can help design your future. Taking advantage of the various job fairs and career development resources that college students have available is a great way to put that degree to work, as well. When you get ready to finish your degree and head out into the world, degree earners can expect a level of support from their mentors and professors that isn’t available anywhere else.
5. A Bachelor’s Degree May Be Needed Where You Live.
The United States is a very diverse country, and it varies in the amount of money needed to live in each location. In addition to a wide range in the cost of living between geographic areas (which may require a bachelor’s degree to afford), some places are more job-friendly to those with degrees. Washington D.C. requires a bachelor’s degree for 32 percent of its jobs, compared to just 19 percent in Delaware. New York has a relatively high amount of jobs for degrees, as it employs many fashion designers, banking professionals, and business managers—all jobs that you’ll need a bachelor’s to obtain. Depending on where you plan to call home, a four-year education may be required to make it.
6. A Bachelor’s Degree Is a Stepping Stone to Higher Goals.
Have you considered a career as a physical therapist, head librarian, or nurse anesthetist? These popular jobs usually require a bachelor’s degree as the first step before going on to get another, more-advanced degree. You’ll also need a bachelor’s before any Master’s or PhD, as well as the ever-popular MBA. Even if you’re not sure you’re up for the entire career path, earning a bachelor’s degree now puts you in the driver’s seat should you decide to pursue it later.
7. Personal Growth Happens with a Bachelor’s Degree.
If you aren’t looking for the type of career that often comes from a four-year education, you may be questioning the value of a bachelor’s degree. There’s more to it than the paper, however; many students have found the experience to be deeply and personally rewarding, as well. In addition to gaining skills like writing, time-management, and working on a team, there are opportunities to polish presentation skills and interact with professors and students who will, later on, become part of your valuable career network.
8. Workers with Bachelor’s Degrees Are Happier with Their Careers.
Not everyone loves their job, but studies have shown that getting a four-year degree leads to a better overall attitude towards work. Many more bachelor’s degree earners report being satisfied with their careers than those without a degree. Of those who said they were working just to get by, 42 percent were high school graduates versus just 14 percent of college grads. A larger number of bachelor’s degree holders (86 percent) are also more likely to view their current job as part of a path to something better, rather than view it as a dead-end job; only 57 percent those with a high school diploma have the same positive feeling about where they are currently working.
9. A Bachelor’s Degree Increases Your Financial Security.
When it comes to benefits that create economic stability, such as retirement plans, health insurance, and sick leave, there’s no question that they are more common with jobs that require a bachelor’s degree. When you add in the fact that degree holders are less likely to live below the poverty line—just six percent compared to 22 percent of those without a college degree— it seems that there are serious benefits to rethinking education.
10. The Risk Is Worth the Reward.
The cost of a degree may be daunting, especially with many students on the news sharing student loan woes and not feeling like the job market is friendly to their specific degree. While no one can argue that some degrees aren’t that easy to employ, many college grads are finding the ROI of a bachelor’s degree to be positive. Young adults express that their degrees are a good value, with 72 percent believing that their degree has paid off, and an additional 17 percent believing that it will very soon. This trend stays steady among those who borrowed for school, as well. Plus, there are many programs available to help pay for higher education; scholarships, grants and tuition reimbursement programs are all designed to help students avoid debt.
Whether you are looking for more upward mobility in your career, a new opportunity to learn and grow professionally, or a better life for your family through a higher annual salary, the reasons for checking out a bachelor’s degree program are many.
Take the next step and request information on earning your bachelor’s degree today.