The Results Are In: Mixed Opinions on the Value of Education in Defining Career Paths

In August, we asked readers how their education affected their career paths, and the results show mixed opinions about the influence education has on future success.

According to the results, 42% of respondents said they wouldn’t be where they are today without their degrees. However, 35% said their education hasn’t played a role in defining their career and 15% said it helped land their first job, but hasn’t been a factor since. So, the results are split on just how big of a role education plays on our future career paths.

Nearly 6% of survey respondents selected the “other” option and submitted their own thoughts on the topic, including:

  • Simply having a college degree had an influence on my career path, but my area of study did not
  • I’m doing what I wanted to do, but had to work longer and harder to get here without a degree
  • I need more education
  • Getting my masters inhibited my ability to get a job because I was seen as overqualified
  • My education has had an indirect effect – I’ve grown personally

Not all paths lead to college.
Whether it’s the cost, time commitment, available fields of study, or any of a wide range of variables – the fact is, college just isn’t the answer for everyone. In fact, many people – from recent high school grads to senior citizens – are discovering that career technical education (CTE) offers a better path to meaningful employment than a four-year degree.

What is Career and Technical Education?
According to the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), “Career and technical education prepares both youth and adults for a wide range of careers and further educational opportunities.” Formerly known as vocational-technical education, CTE teaches the skills and expertise needed for a wide variety of in-demand careers ranging from welders to IT to nursing. Two of the most appealing aspects of CTE are that it’s only a fraction of the cost of a four-year degree and it can typically be completed within two years.

The demand is there – and it’s only increasing.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 14 of the 20 fastest-growing occupations require an associate’s degree or less. These are exactly the types of careers for which CTE provides training and credentials. Employers need to fill these jobs, but there’s an ever-increasing gap in skilled workers who have the necessary training and education. And it’s because of this skills gap that people pursuing careers in these “fastest-growing occupations” often enter the workforce in higher-paying jobs than those with a four-year college degree.

It’s a very interesting time in today’s workforce. And opportunities abound for those who are willing to pursue them. For more information about the benefits of career and technical education, check out this recent white paper by Express Employment Professionals that digs deeper into the “college vs. CTE” debate.

CAUTION: College May Not Be For Everyone

How has your education affected your career path? Have you ever considered career technical education? Let us know in the comments section below.

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