News.com has the story on a new report by NSF’s Science Resources Statistics group that shows more than one-fifth of U.S. science and engineering workers do not have a bachelor’s degree.
The percentage without degrees is even higher in computer and math science fields, with approximately 40 percent of workers without a four-year degree.
I haven’t thought too deeply about what it means, but here’s an idea to chew on. There’s an interesting juxtaposition between the relatively high percent of non-degreed comp sci and mathematics workers (40 percent) vs. a much lower percentage in the life sciences (10 percent). To me, this suggests two things. One, that there are plenty of opportunities in computer science and mathematics fields for workers without four-year degrees, and two, that the life sciences may be dealing with a surplus of degreed workers. If the percentage of degreed workers is so much higher in the life sciences, it implies that a higher percentage of lower-tier jobs (entry level and slightly above) are going to degreed workers as well.
What would be interesting to see is the salary data for those positions and how they compare to the lower-tier jobs on the IT side. Does an associate-degreed worker with a certification in an IT field earn about the same as a degreed med-tech? My guess would be that the IT worker makes at least as much, but I don’t have that data handy. Let me see if I can dig them up.
At the same time, it’s also worth noting that no other S&E field is projected to grow as much or as fast as IT-related fields over the next 8 years (2002-12). And most of those new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics will require a Bachelor’s degree or better.