As higher education and the job market continue to evolve, so does the answer to the question of whether a college degree is necessary for certain professions. to gauge public opinion on the issue, A recent YouGov poll He asked what jobs Americans thought a college degree should be required. The survey included jobs in a variety of sectors, including education, healthcare, sales and law enforcement.
Of the 20 jobs I was asked about, it was a high school teacher for which the largest percentage of Americans said a college degree should be required. Majorities also prefer college degrees for professions 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%), plumbers (18%), and truck drivers (15%), were less likely to be seen as requiring a degree.
College graduates are more likely to believe that certain jobs should require a degree than people with an associate degree. The largest gaps are for journalists, stockbrokers, data analysts, airline pilots, and paralegals.
Age also divides views on the subject: younger people are more likely than older people to think that some jobs should require a college education. The jobs with the largest age gap—with more adults under 45 believing they need a degree—are administrative assistants, production supervisors, home health aides, truck drivers, and salespeople. However, older adults are more likely than younger to say that an associate’s degree should be required for high school teachers.
The survey also asked Americans who work either part-time or full-time whether their current job requires a college degree. Examining responses to this question among demographic groups, we find that the workers most likely to say this are those with a graduate degree (81% have a job that requires a college degree) and people with only a college degree (64%). At least half of working adults under 30 (53%), live in cities (52%), or Democrats (51%) say their current job requires a degree. While 42% of all workers say their job requires a degree, people with a high school diploma or less are half as likely to say they work in a job that requires a degree. Only 24% of rural workers say their job requires a degree, as do 25% of part-time workers.
Carl Bialik and Linley Sanders contributed to this article
See the results of this YouGov poll
methodology: The survey was conducted among 2,000 US adults in two separate surveys from March 21-23, 2023 and March 23-26, 2023, with each survey conducted by 1,000 US adults. Respondents were selected from the YouGov subscription panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by sex, age, race, education, geographic area, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to sex, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout, presidential vote, primary party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Primary party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer before March 15, 2024, and is weighted by the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democrat, 28% Republican). The margin of error for the total sample is about 2%.
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