Occupations requiring master’s degrees are expected to grow at a rate of 16.7 percent through 2026, versus 7.4 percent for all occupations.
This century has already been tough on Americans who have only a high school education. The current decade is poised to add insult to injury.
The fast-declining occupations between 2016 and 2026 are those with minimal entry-level education requirements that are vulnerable to automation and other technological advances, based on a Bureau of Labor Statistics report by economist Emily Rolen. The fastest-growing fields require post-secondary education, often master’s degrees.
In fact, occupations requiring master’s degrees are expected to grow at a rate of 16.7 percent through 2026, versus 7.4 percent for all occupations. Ph.D.-requiring gigs will grow second-fastest, at 13 percent, followed by jobs requiring associate and bachelor’s degrees. Health care is a big reason. Many jobs in the booming sector have high education requirements, even for entry-level positions.
To be sure, growth rates are relative: A comparatively small share of jobs required master’s degrees in 2016, so it’s easy for the group to grow quickly. But it speaks to the broader shift going on in the American workforce, one in which high-paying, skilled jobs will continue to enjoy high demand. Rolen’s analysis shows that most occupational groups destined for above-average growth over the next decade already pay more than the median wage — and the bulk of them require a bachelor’s degree or more.
While health care support and personal care occupations will also grow very quickly and require just a high school education, both offer below-median pay.
Fortunately for employers and employees alike, educational attainment is improving. Nearly 48 percent of American adults between the ages of 25 and 34 had earned an associate degree or more in 2017, up from about 40 percent a decade earlier. Still, these trends suggest that Americans’ economic fates will continue to diverge by schooling — important in a world where such divides are already widening the economic gap between urban and rural areas and deepening political fissures.
(With assistance from Bloomberg’s Luke Kawa.)