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More than half of employed 2014 college grads are in jobs that don’t require a degree

As the Class of 2014 moves on from college to careers, what does the beginning of their professional journey look like?

The majority of Class of 2014 college graduates have now entered “the real world” and are currently working – but more than half (51 percent) of that group are in jobs that don’t require a degree, according to a new CareerBuilder survey. This includes 45 percent of four-year degree graduates and 57 percent of associate degree graduates.

Sixty-five percent of recent college grads are employed, 4 percent are in internships, and 31 percent are not working at all, although many in the latter group simply haven’t started their job search or are already back in school to pursue a higher degree.

So what does that mean for Class of 2014 alumni? Read on to find out how these recent college grads are doing at the start of their careers, what plans they have and who may need to make some career adjustments.

Career plans for now and the future
Transitioning from a college environment to the work force isn’t always smooth for recent grads, and often times these new workers are navigating uncertain career waters as they find their bearings. Among graduates currently working, 51 percent said their job is related to their college major. Of those who are not working, only 43 percent indicate they are currently looking for a job. Salary expectations are modest for most; only 44 percent expect to make more than $30,000 their first year out of college.

Continuing education is a factor for many graduates regardless of their current employment status; two-thirds (61 percent) are already pursuing an advanced degree or plan to do so in the next year – 66 percent of associate degree earners and 56 percent of 4-year degree completers.

  • Of those not currently working, 47 percent say they are pursuing an advanced degree, and 19 percent say they plan to in the next year.
  • Of those currently working, 43 percent say they are pursuing an advanced degree, and 17 percent say they plan to in the next year.
  • Of those graduates who say their current job doesn’t require a college degree, 36 percent say they are currently pursuing an advanced degree, and 22 percent say they plan to in the next year.

Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder, says these findings suggests that many employed graduates are taking jobs to support the completion of their next degree. “The first six months after graduation marks a major transition that can take many forms, but for the Class of 2014, the emphasis is less on finding the dream job out-of-the-gate and more on furthering one’s education,” she says. “The wage premium for attaining a graduate or professional degree has always been high, and this generation clearly understands the promising employment opportunities rewarded to the most-educated workers.”

The recent grads most likely to be employed full-time
For many recent graduates, however, landing a good job remains the top priority. The following is a profile of graduates in full-time, permanent positions broken down by a variety of demographic and behavioral factors:

  • College major: Health care and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) graduates are slightly more likely to be employed full-time than non-STEM graduates (40 percent vs. 34 percent).
  • Student loan debt: Graduates with outstanding student loan debt are slightly more likely to be employed full-time than graduates with no debt (39 percent vs. 33 percent).
  • Internships: Graduates who previously held internships are more likely to have a full-time position than those who have not (32 vs. 21 percent), and are significantly less likely to not be working at all (21 percent vs. 38 percent).
  • Applied for jobs early: Forty-one percent of graduates who started their job search before their spring semester of their senior year are currently employed full-time, compared to 34 percent who started during the spring or later.
  • Want to make a difference vs. want to make money: 51 percent of grads who say “making a lot of money” is more important in their job than “making a difference” are in a full-time positions, compared to 28 percent of those who think the reverse.

College is worth it, all things considered
While starting off in your career can be tough, it’s important to know that education is a major pay-off in the long run. Eighty-seven percent of all recent college graduates say they do not regret their college major and 89 percent think going college is worth the investment in the long-run. However, fewer graduates (57 percent) think college adequately prepared them for work in the real world.

“There was feeling among college graduates during and after the recession that their pursuit wasn’t worth the investment, but fortunately this class has a very optimistic outlook,” says Haefner. “The job market is on the rebound, and a majority of companies are again recruiting college grads.”

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