5 Signs Not Having a Degree is Hindering Your Career

1.  You’re Unemployed
The job market is becoming increasingly competitive and there’s reason to believe that increasing your level of education could have a direct effect on your chances of finding gainful employment.  For example, the unemployment rate for those with high school diploma is 8.4% whereas the unemployment rate for those with college degree is only 2.9%.  In 2010 unemployment for individuals with a high school diploma peaked at 17.9% while, even at its peak, unemployment for individuals holding a college degree was only 5.9%.  If that’s not motivating enough, if you’ve ever considered advancing your education beyond a bachelor’s degree, you’ll be pleased to learn that the unemployment rate for those with a master’s degree is less than 2%.  So, higher education equals lower chances of unemployment.

2.  You’re under-employed or not in a career
Think back to the jobs you’ve held over your lifetime.  Chances are, you’ve held many jobs that pay the bills while you’re searching for your career passion and pathway.  For many of us, we have a wealth of experience that could surpass our credentials resulting in feelings of being under-employed or in just another “job.”  Have hope!  There is greater opportunity with an advanced education. Today, there are nearly 3 million job openings of which, 33% require college degree (this is up from only 16% in 1973). Fine tuning your credentials while building your experience may help lead to the career of your dreams.

3. Not getting promoted
While you’ve been building your experience, perhaps your colleagues have been adding to their experience with a credential that has resulted in a job promotion.  Did you know that 20% of open positions in the U.S. require a master’s degree but only 11% of the population holds this credential?  There are many positions out there for individuals with an advanced degree and more and more, working professionals are returning to school in pursuit of these degrees to get ahead and gain that promotion.  In fact, the National Center for Educational Statistics shows students ages 25 and older increased by 42% between 2000 and 2010 and this demographic is expected to double in the next five years.  Today, the peak age for individuals seeking a master’s degree is 35-64.  Does this sound like you or your co-workers?  Simply stated – your competition is increasing their knowledge, skills and experience.  Are you?

4.  Your income isn’t rising as fast as you’d like
Keeping up with the ever-rising cost of living means finding new ways to increase household income, sometimes just to keep up with the comforts of modern day that we’ve become accustom to.  Just as educational level is correlated to unemployment rates, so too is earning potential.  According to 2012 Federal Reserve statistics, all increases in wage earnings since 2002 have come from those with advanced degrees.  In fact, the earning potential for bachelor’s degree holders is 84% higher than those with high school diploma; and that’s up from 75% in 2002. The gap in earning potential is growing greater between those with a college degree and those without.  For individuals with a master’s degree, earning potential is even higher; they can expect to earn an additional 35% more than their bachelors counterparts so having a graduate degree could earn you 20-65% more earning potential depending on your chosen field.

5. Your professional contacts are outdated and your network isn’t robust
A certain level of education is likely required for a particular position, but your network is equally as important in identifying opportunities and securing an interview. The benefits of going back to school is gaining the degree, but also becoming exposed to other working professionals who can advance your networks and career opportunities.  In Charlotte, our graduate students represent leaders in the fields of education, business, technology, nonprofit, government and engineering.  With an average age of 38 and over 90% of our graduate students working full-time, our students are experienced working professionals who are making a difference in their communities and professions.  In addition, Northeastern University students are Networked for Life. Our students earn a top ranked education that opens doors. While they expand their knowledge they also grow their own professional network and become eligible for lifetime career services to aid in job searches, resume writing and career exploration. With over 3000 employer partners, 210,000 alumni worldwide and research in 160 countries and all seven continents, our Northeastern network can take you where you want to go.

About the Author:

As the CEO and Regional Dean for Northeastern University’s Charlotte Graduate Campus, Dr. Richards oversees the delivery of high quality professional education on campus, and advances the university’s global corporate partnerships and research capabilities. Dr. Richards began her career in higher education over 20 years ago.

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