Are College Grads Using Their Degrees? You Would Be Surprised!

In the last few years, the cost of college degrees has increased, leading to a student debt crisis and creating an environment of skepticism about the value of a college degree. Around half of adults in the U.S. do not see a college degree as an absolute necessity. Younger adults are more likely to view college degrees as less important. This is primarily due to affordability, limited access, and the decreasing confidence in higher education, in general. Roughly 39% of Americans who earned a college degree say that they are not sure of the value of their college degree, while 26% believe their college degree was not worth the money. Over 40% of people who think their degree was not worth the money are not using their degrees in their jobs, while 29% could not find a job in their field. These numbers demonstrate how millennials and Generation-Z struggle in the current job market. 

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 41% of college graduates between 22 and 27 are underemployed, i.e., working in professions that typically do not require a college degree. These underemployment rates rose substantially after the COVID-19 crisis, which put pressure on the job market. Statistics suggest that only 34% of underemployed college graduates were employed in what the Federal Reserve defines as “good non-college” jobs, i.e., jobs that pay at least $45,000 per year, a number which has been halved since the 1990s. Additionally, the number of college graduates between 22 and 27 working in low-wage professions (less than $25,000 per annum) has risen from 9% since the 1990s to 11% in 2021. Here are some common jobs where college graduates are underemployed.

Administrative Assistants

Administrative assistants require basic skills like data entry and interpersonal and communication skills. Although not a requirement, most administrative assistants have a college degree. The number of administrative assistants with college degrees has increased year over year. Research suggests that 72% of administrative assistants have a bachelor’s degree, 21% have a master’s degree, 4% have an associate degree, and 1% have a doctoral degree. Despite the different education levels, salaries for administrative assistants are fairly similar. Most administrative assistants are employed in the education industry, followed by healthcare and the government.

Personal Assistants 

Personal assistants handle multiple administrative duties like answering phone calls, scheduling appointments, taking notes, and sending emails. Although not formally needed, 41% of personal assistants have a bachelor’s degree, 23% have a high school diploma, and 20% have an associate degree. There is also little difference between the salaries of personal assistants at different education levels.


Waiters and waitresses play a crucial role in the hospitality industry. A formal education isn’t required to be a waiter or waitress as employees will undergo on-the-job training. This profession is dominated by females in the U.S., with 36% having a high school diploma, 33% a bachelor’s degree, and 18% an associate degree. 

Travel Agents 

Travel agents make transportation and accommodation arrangements for other people and advise clients on the best travel destinations and itineraries. 39% of travel agents have a bachelor’s degree, 25% have an associate degree, and 17% have a high school diploma. Most travel agents work in the tech sector.

Ski and Snowboard Instructors 

Surprisingly, the most common degree for ski instructors is a bachelor’s degree in business. 75.6% of ski instructors have a bachelor’s degree, while 6% have a master’s degree. Similarly, 67.9% of snowboard instructors in the US have a bachelor’s degree, and 2.9% have a master’s degree. Ski and snowboard instructors with knowledge of CPR, First Aid, and AED Instructor earn more than others. Although most ski and snowboard instructors have a bachelor’s degree, it is possible to become one with a high school diploma. 

Uber/Taxi Drivers

33% of taxi drivers have a high school diploma, 23% have an associate degree, and 22% have a bachelor’s degree. Even though this job does not require graduate education qualifications, a significant number of college graduates work as taxi drivers.

While these numbers may be surprising in and of themselves, numerous jobs that do not appear to require college degrees are dominated by college graduates. For help in finding a career that matches your educational background, talk to the professionals today. KangarooStar is your one-hop stop for data-driven job matching, career development, hiring trends, and professional assessment. Learn more about how you can jump to the next level in your career today!