Andrea Kay, Gannett
October 13. 2012 - For the record, this is not a for-or-against argument about a college degree.
It is an argument for how to boost your chances of getting hired in the next three to five years.
Let's look at today's educational requirements first, so you can see where the trend has been headed. Compared to 10 years ago, more jobs now have specific technical requirements and need a higher level of education.
In the 25 years I've been writing about careers and working with clients, I've seen this trend with workers in nearly every industry - information technology, security, health care and professional services to name a few - and in all types of professions, including administrative assistants, project managers, nurses and more.
But don't take my word for it. According to nearly 4,700 human resource professionals across nine industries in a joint survey from the Society for Human Resource Management and Achieve, 51 percent said more jobs have technical requirements today and 46 percent said a higher education level is required for most jobs.
The trend will continue.
If you're thinking about you or your child's future, when it comes to educational requirements, here's what those surveyed say to expect in three to five years:
• 60% say even more jobs will have specific technical requirements.
• 49% expect a higher education level requirement for most jobs.
We're talking about jobs across the board.
For example, an administrative assistant position will require more education such as an associate degree or post-secondary certificate. Future positions for salaried workers, individual contributors and other professionals will require a bachelors degree, say 71 percent of the human resource professionals.
Skilled laborers including technicians, mechanics and foremen, will need a specific post-secondary certificate or specific credential, say 31 percent of the human resource professionals.
And even though most workers with only a high-school diploma today can advance by way of a lateral move, such promotions in the future will require more education or training.
In three to five years, the industries that will require higher education levels for most of their jobs include manufacturing, 59%; health care, 56%; high tech, 51%; state and local government, 51%; and professional services, 49%.
Other reasons to get higher education?
In 2011 New York Times columnist David Leonhardt wrote that college also can have "big benefits even in many fields where a degree is not crucial." He cites the study, The Undereducated American by Anthony Carnevale and Stephen J. Rose of Georgetown University that says construction workers, police officers, plumbers and retail salespeople make significantly more with a degree than without one because "education helps people do higher-skilled work, get jobs with better paying companies or open their own businesses."
Other statistics show that college graduates earn nearly twice as much as those who only have a high school diploma.
I know what you're thinking: Education can be expensive.
That is all the more reason that you must choose your direction wisely. Too many people go to school because they heard that occupational therapy or nursing is a fast-growing area. And they like to help people.
But those are not necessarily good reasons for you to go into these fields. You can find many ways to help people and other areas that are growing.
First, get to know yourself and what you would like to do. Besides having the right education, being in a field you want to be in for the right reasons will boost your argument for why someone will want to promote or hire you.