In most industries, a college degree can set you apart from other candidates and help you land a job. In fact, we surveyed recruiters and hiring managers, and the majority indicated that the value of a college degree is rising.
In fact, recent world events reflected these findings: The gap in unemployment between people with a degree and without a degree was exacerbated by the pandemic. The unemployment rate for workers with a high school diploma was 3.7% pre-recession in January 2020, peaked at 17.3% in April 2020, and remained at 6.3% in July 2021. For workers with bachelor’s degrees, those figures were 2% pre-recession in January 2020, 8.4% at peak, and 3.1% by July 2021.
It seems that getting a degree is still a competitive advantage and not having one can still hold you back, as some survey respondents indicated.
“Most people who apply don’t have the needed degree,” said one hiring manager in our survey, on the challenges they face filling jobs.
Another revelation: The rising value of a degree is especially true in certain fields, namely computer, IT and math occupations, and in architecture and engineering occupations, where 66% and 68% of respondents, respectively, said that the value of a college degree has increased over the last year. But why these specific industries?
Tech and math jobs are in demand
Jobs with a technology focus are, well, technical. These roles include web developer, computer programmer, data analyst, software engineer, IT specialist and more. Candidates need a particular set of skills and experience that shows an employer they can work with a specific programming language, suite of software or piece of equipment. They also need a strong mathematical background, knowledge of general coding principles and, while not strictly necessary in all cases, would benefit from a higher education degree in their desired specialty.
Computer science, technology and mathematics jobs are highly competitive given their steep prerequisites and high pay. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for computer and information technology jobs was $97,430 as of May 2021, significantly higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $45,760. Meanwhile, the median annual salary for mathematicians and statisticians was $96,280 per year in 2021. As a result, candidates need to stand out among a sea of other capable professionals to secure a job in computer science, technology and math-focused industries. As our survey results indicated, a college degree can help.
Arizona State University offers online computer science and technology degrees for all areas of interest, including programs in engineering, business and mathematics. Additionally, ASU Online gives students a chance to go beyond the fundamentals and take courses in fields such as big data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing.
ASU’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences offers several degree programs, including actuarial science, computational mathematical sciences, data science and mathematics with a concentration in either secondary education or statistics.