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In a recent study, participants were asked about how their current career relates to what they studied in college. It’s an interesting question because college is a big financial investment. The whole idea behind attending college is to get education related to a field in which you want to work. It’s fair to say that college graduates fully expect to enjoy a thriving career in the area of their college major. But is that what ultimately ends up happening? The results of this study about how current careers related to what participants studied in college may surprise you. 

The Results Are In

Out of all the participants, 37% responded that “my profession has nothing to do with my college degree.” Only 29% answered that “my profession is in a field directly related to what I studied in college.” And 26% responded that their college degree helped them in their current profession. A second question was then asked of study participants. When asked, “Are you working in your chosen/preferred profession that aligns with your education?” a whopping 57% answered “no.” Only 43% answered “yes.” Only 8% answered that they have no college degree at all. 

Employers Have a Different Take on Things

Interestingly, it seems that employers are not as focused on what employees studied in college at all. Instead, employers are concerned that their employees attended college in the first place. Out of the employers who participated in the study, 22% claimed that it didn’t matter what the employee studied in college. However, they all ascertained that it was important that their employees went to college for some kind of formal education.

The Professional World Has Evolved

Just a few generations ago, college students would graduate and focus on working in advancing in their chosen field. They would work in that field for decades, climbing the ladder in the process. However, now professionals are just as apt to make lateral moves in their career, preferring to change areas of expertise rather than stay in one field their entire lives. This is possible due to the evolving expectations of employers who are less focused on the kind of degree and more focused on the presence of any kind of degree. Another emerging trend is for students to bypass the traditional four-year college degree and simply get a certificate in a trade or specialized field where four years of study isn’t necessary.

College Isn’t For Everyone

A changing understanding of education has taught that traditional college isn’t for everyone. Not everyone excels in the demanding academic world. But that doesn’t mean that those people can’t excel in other important areas of study that are more practical in nature. The world needs electricians and other tradesmen just as much as it needs doctors. And salaries for these trade professions can reach high enough to provide a good living for those who wish to pursue alternative education certification. 

As an employer or as a job candidate, what is your take on the connection between college study and career choice? Often, people fall into an area of study that is not at all related to what they studied in college. Other times, people follow their college-chosen career path their entire lives, only to make a lateral move into something completely different. Both options are completely valid as career choices. As long as people are able receive adequate compensation for their work contribution that demonstrates the value in what they offer, there seems to be no right or wrong way to go about “growing a career.” If you’re an employer and you’d like to explore valuable services to help you find and manage valuable talent for your company, please contact us today.


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