College Graduates’ Occupational Fields

Alexander Fishkov

Alexander Fishkov, Ph.D. student Computer Science

In this post we analyze recent ACS data to see which fields college graduates work in. We are particularly interested in the relationship between the college degree that participants mentioned in the survey and their actual job occupation. We have used a five-year PUMS sample and selected adults from 25 to 65 years old who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Since there are many different degree wordings and detailed occupation categories, we have grouped them to make 16 broad occupation fields and 17 degree fields. Below you can see a wheel chart showing the relationship between college graduates’ jobs and their degree majors. You can see which portion of selected degree graduates work in which field and the reverse for the selected occupation. We used color coding to match closely-related degrees and occupations. Educational degrees are displayed on the left side of the wheel, while occupation groups are on the right.

From the chart we can see that the Engineering, Business, Education and Healthcare fields favor a dedicated degree, since a major part (about 50 percent or higher) of the respective job holders have at least a bachelor’s degree in these fields. Conversely, in the fields of Arts, Math and Management, only about one-third of the job holders have a respective degree. While these occupations have well-established major programs, a significant part of the workforce actually comes from different educational backgrounds.

Another interesting aspect to explore is how many graduates actually work in the field of their degree. It can be inferred from the previous chart, but for convenience we add a separate one. On the next chart you can see what percentage of graduates were able to find a job in their field by degree name.

People with Medicine, Education and Math-related degrees have a good chance to work in the field. While being significantly less crowded than Business and Finance degrees, they achieve an in-field placement of over 40 percent. In the field of Engineering it is a bit different: only about 30 percent of the graduates are working in engineering. This fact, together with over 70 percent of all engineering jobs being held by the respective graduates, indicates a possible over-supply of engineers.

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About Alexander Fishkov

Alexander Fishkov

Alexander Fishkov, Ph.D. student Computer Science

Alexander is a Ph.D. student in Computer Science. He currently holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Applied Math. He has experience working for industry major companies performing research in the fields of machine learning, data mining and natural language processing. In his free time, Alexander enjoys hiking, Nordic skiing and traveling.

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