Do You Need a Degree for the Career of Your Dreams?

As you explore Find Your Calling, you’ll notice that we provide a list of colleges, universities, and other training and education institutions that offer programs related to your careers of interest. Why? Because these days, forging a strong career often requires at least some higher education. There are exceptions, but—well, they tend to be exceptions.

So here are a few rules (and exceptions) to keep in mind as you search Find Your Calling for the career of your dreams.

1. Not every career demands higher education. Like I said, there are exceptions. Numerous career options don’t require higher education. However, the pay for these jobs is typically well below $15 per hour. What does that mean? These occupations might be good stepping stones, but probably aren’t ultimately where you want to stay put. Also, some careers (such as detectives) may not demand a degree, but you’d still be a lot better at your job if you had one under your belt (in this case, something like criminal justice).

2. Most higher paying jobs really do require you to complete some form of education beyond high school. Careers like surgeons ($108 per hour on average) require highly advanced doctoral and professional degrees. Other careers like nurse practitioners and economists require master’s degrees (and they pay an average of $46 and $48 per hour, respectively). Finally, many business leaders (like marketing managers, $62 per hour), creative professions (like producers and directors, $40 per hour), and engineers (like software developers, $46 per hour) require bachelor’s degrees. Bottom line? A four-year degree and up is frequently necessary for high-wage jobs.

Startup Stock Photos
Startup Stock Photos

3. You can’t always draw a straight line from your education to your career. While higher education helps you get a better career, it is important to note that higher education is not job training. Certain degrees, of course, line right up with careers; nursing, accounting, and engineering all help you become those things in real life. But if you want to be a CEO, you won’t find anything called a CEO degree.

4. Sometimes the degree type doesn’t (really) matter. Many employers simply want to see that you have a degree because a degree communicates a lot of things about what type of person you are: smart, responsible, educated, disciplined, etc. And a degree such as liberal arts, though it may not prepare you for every aspect of a technical job like software engineering, certainly helps prepare you for a wide variety of disciplines and will make you valuable for the increasing number of employers looking to hire well-rounded people.

So, in Find Your Calling, if we can make a connection between a degree and a career, we will. Sometime those connections will be more direct (nursing). Other times they will be more indirect (sales). Much of the rest of the work (learning, growing, asking questions, exploring) is still up to you. Our hope is that you will be able to ask better questions and be more informed as you search.

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