Education costs are rising dramatically throughout the country.  This brings into question the necessity of having a degree and if that degree lands you a job and leads to a long term career.  Of course there are well known  individuals in business who do not have degrees, notably the late Steve Jobs of Apple, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and Michael Dell of Dell Computers, but these are exceptions who actually created jobs and did not have to land jobs. 

The reality is that 21% of all jobs and an even higher percentage of career jobs need a degree in today's climate.  There is current research that says by 2020, 24% of all jobs are expected to require a bachelor's degree.  This means that on an aggregated basis, 47% of jobs will require some sort of degree (associate's, bachelor's or master's) and if a job seeker is looking to land a serious career job in 2020, he or she will need to have some form of degree.  If you currently have a degree, it will be helpful to upgrade that degree to the next level available. 

Georgetown University summarized their findings on degree requirements for a job in 2020. 

  • 6.6 million (or 12% of all jobs) will need less than a high school education
  • 13.2 million (24%) will need only a high school diploma
  • 9.8 million (18%) will requires an associate's degree
  • 13.2 million (24%) will require a bachelor's degree
  • 6.0 million (11%) will require a master's degree or better

So, it does appear that workers will need at least an associate's degree to land a dream job and climb the ladder.  However, there is a caveat to this.  Forbes has reported that 50% of small businesses had hired staff that did not have a degree and a significant portion had reported no difference in performance between degreed and non-degreed personnel.  It is possible to land a job without significant education, but it may be necessary to stay away from big business or government in order to do that.