SEO Headline (Max 60 characters)

Variation in Employers' Degree Requirements

May 19, 2017

Employer preferences for job applicants who hold a bachelor's degree when hiring for middle-skills jobs varies significantly across metropolitan areas, according to a new paper from the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and Philadelphia. Employers in the Northeast were most likely to require a four-year degree, particularly compared to those in the South.

The study looked at the four most common "opportunity" occupations, which it defines as jobs that "pay at least the national annual median wage, adjusted for differences in local consumption prices, and that are generally considered accessible to a worker without a four-year college degree." Those occupations are computer user support specialist, registered nurse, first-line supervisor of retail sales and executive secretary.

"Our analysis finds that place still matters when it comes to employers’ expectations for the educational attainment of the ideal job candidate," the report found. "Even after controlling for the characteristics of the posted jobs, employers’ educational preferences are higher where recent college graduates are relatively more numerous, where wages are higher, in larger metro areas and in the Northeast. In these types of markets, a job seeker sometimes needs more education to get a foot in the door than does a candidate for a similar job elsewhere."

Share Article

Paul Fain

Paul Fain, Contributing Editor, came to Inside Higher Ed in September 2011, after a six-year stint covering leadership and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Paul has also worked in higher ed P.R., with Widmeyer Communications, but couldn't stay away from reporting. A former staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Va., Paul has written for The New York Times, Washington City Paper and Mother Jones. He's won a few journalism awards, including one for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association and the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. Paul got hooked on journalism while working too many hours at The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in political science in 1996. A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a long-suffering fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Fain plays guitar in a band with more possible names than polished songs.

Back to Top