Educational Requirements for Employment

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Many occupations require a certain level of education in order for someone to be eligible to work in that profession. Employers usually include the educational requirements for a job in job postings and in job descriptions.

Educational Requirements for Employment

The following is a list of the classifications based on the level of education typically needed to work in an occupation. In some cases, when applying for jobs, work experience (equivalent experience) may be substituted for some educational requirements.

Less than high school: the completion of any level of primary or secondary education that did not result in the awarding of a high school diploma or the equivalent.

High school diploma or equivalent: the completion of high school or the equivalent, resulting in the award of a high school diploma or the equivalent, such as the General Education Development (GED).

Some college, no degree: is a high school diploma or the equivalent, plus the completion of one or more postsecondary courses that did not result in any degree or award.

Associate’s degree: a degree awarded usually for at least 2 years of full-time academic study beyond high school, typically at the community college level.

Bachelor’s degree: a degree awarded usually for at least 4 years of full-time academic study beyond high school.

Postsecondary non-degree award: usually a certificate or other award that is not a degree. Certifications issued by professional organizations or certifying organizations are not included in this category.

These certification programs may last only a few weeks to 2 years. Examples include health aides, paramedics, EMTs, and hairstylists.

Master’s degree: degree awarded usually for 1 or 2 years of full-time academic study beyond a bachelor’s degree.

Doctoral or professional degree: degree awarded usually for at least 3 years of full-time academic work beyond a bachelor’s degree.

Examples include lawyers (JD), physicians (MD) and surgeons, scientists (PhD), and dentists.

Examples of education level listed in job postings:

  • Must have GED or high school diploma.
  • High school diploma or equivalent required.
  • Bachelor's degree required.
  • Associate degree or equivalent (minimum of 34 credit hours and an additional one (1) year of relevant full-time experience).
  • Master's degree and 3 years of experience or Ph.D degree with no prior experience is acceptable.

Education Levels and Job Applications

One factor to keep in mind when applying for jobs is that when employers list hiring criteria the chances of getting an interview are slim if you don't have at least close to the qualifications for the job.

In some cases, if it's not too much of a stretch and if there is a lack of qualified applicants, you may have a shot at an interview. However, it is better to focus on applying for jobs where you do have the appropriate educational and experience qualifications.

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