Degree and Nondegree Credentials Held by Labor Force Participants

Examining the percentage of adults who have a postsecondary degree misses other types of postsecondary credentials that could be useful in the labor market, such as postsecondary certificates, occupational licenses and occupational certifications.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a new Data Point report today (March 27) entitled Degree and Nondegree Credentials Held by Labor Force Participants. This report examines the rates at which working adults have attained either a postsecondary degree or a postsecondary nondegree credential, including postsecondary certificates, occupational licenses, and occupational certifications. The report uses data from the Adult Training and Education survey, conducted as part of the 2016 National Household Education Survey (NHES) program.

Among the findings:

  • Although only 45 percent of working adults have a postsecondary degree, when nondegree credentials are factored in, 58 percent of working adults have some type of postsecondary work credential.
  • Among working adults who do not have a postsecondary degree, the most common nondegree credential is an occupational license.

Figure 1: Percentage of adults in the labor force who have different degree and nondegree credentials: 2016. LEFT pie graph: 55% No postsecondary degree. 45% Any postsecondary degree. RIGHT pie graph: 13% No postsecondary degree and a nondegree credential. 18% Postsecondary degree and nondegree credential. 27% postsecondary degree and no nondegree credential. 42% No postsecondary degree and no nondegree credential.

To view the full report, please visit this link to the Data Point handout entitled Degree and Nondegree Credentials Held by Labor Force Participants or cut and paste this URL into an address bar:  http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2018057.

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