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Education and training across occupation groups

May 15, 2012

Students and career changers want to know what preparation is needed for entry into various careers or, alternatively, what types of career opportunities may be available for a given level of preparation. The BLS has introduced a new set of education and training categories to depict the preparation that individuals need to enter and to become competent in specific occupations.

Number of occupations assigned to education categories, by occupation group
[Chart data]

The education and training categories are

  • less than high school
  • high school diploma or equivalent
  • some college, no degree
  • postsecondary nondegree award
  • associate's degree
  • bachelor's degree
  • master's degree
  • doctoral or professional degree

How are these education and training categories distributed across major occupation groups?

For some occupations, a certain level of education is universally required, while for others, it is not as clear-cut. Consider two legal occupations: lawyers and paralegals (both in the legal occupations group). Prospective lawyers need to graduate from law school after completing a bachelor's degree. Paralegals, however, can enter the occupation with one of three formal education levels—a postsecondary nondegree award, an associate's degree, or a bachelor's degree. The education assignment for paralegals is "associate's degree," because BLS economists determined it to be the typical education needed for entry. Lawyers are assigned "doctoral or professional degree."

Four major groups had six education categories represented: education, training, and library occupations; healthcare practitioners and technical occupations; personal care and service occupations; and transportation and material moving occupations.

Two major groups had only two categories represented: building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations and construction and extraction occupations. In these two occupation groups only the high school diploma and less than high school education categories occurred.

Conversely, each education category is found across multiple major occupation groups, with the high school diploma or equivalent assignment found in 20 of the 22 major groups (all but computer and mathematical occupations and life, physical, and social science occupations). The bachelor's degree assignment appears in 15 major groups and the associate's degree in 13 major groups. The least dispersion across major groups is for the doctoral or professional degree (5 groups), master's degree (6 groups), and some college, no degree (6 groups).

Data for this article are from the Employment Projections program. To learn more, see "Employment projections through the lens of education and training," by Dixie Sommers and Teresa L. Morisi, in the April 2012 issue of the Monthly Labor Review.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Education and training across occupation groups at (visited March 04, 2024).

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