It’s True -- You Don’t Need a B.A. to Get a Good-Paying Job

It’s True—You Don’t Need a B.A. to Get a Good-Paying Job

New research from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce in collaboration with JPMorgan Chase & Co. shows that there are 30 million workers across the country who earn good money—a median salary of $55,000—without having earned a college degree.

The only problem? The non-baccalaureate option is not widely available to black people.

(Image: iStock/kali9)


The Report: Good Jobs that Pay Without a B.A.


Although there’s been an unrelenting decline in manufacturing jobs in the U.S. that provided good-paying jobs to (mostly male) high school graduates, there are still a lot of good jobs that don’t require a degree.

“Even though there have been big losses, manufacturing still provides the largest number of good jobs,” Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center and lead author of the report, says in a statement.

The share continues to decline, but Americans who have only high school diplomas still hold the largest share of these jobs—11.6 million of them. But according to the Georgetown Center, the new jobs require some postsecondary training or education. “The growth of good jobs has been greatest for workers with an associate degree,” the Georgetown Center reports.

‘It’s a Moral Issue’


But most of these good jobs are held by whites, though their share is declining. As Carnevale explained to me, their population share is also declining, so it makes sense that they would hold a lesser share of these jobs. However, Carnevale said that they still hold more than their population share.

“Whites still dominate,” he told me.

Hispanics on the other hand have a rising share of these good jobs, and their population is also rising. Black workers have the smallest share “and have seen only slight growth.”

What’s keeping black workers from these good jobs that don’t require a four-year degree?

Not surprisingly, Carnevale suggested prejudice—although he didn’t use that word. He said that high school to work programs that provide kids with job training work well.

“But if we build pathways to these jobs aggressively, black students will be tracked into the second-best, non-baccalaureate option,” he said. “The tracking will be done by race and class.”

Carnevale says the bachelor’s degree is the gold standard, and one reason why is it represents the point at which racial discrimination begins to diminish. At every educational level whites earn more than blacks, but at the sub-baccalaureate level discrimination is most severe; as education levels rise, it diminishes.

“It’s a moral issue,” Carnevale told me. It’s also one that’s getting more complicated, since we have someone in the White House whose education cuts could take earning a four-year degree further out of reach.

Read the report, Good Jobs that Pay Without a B.A., here.