NCES Survey Looks at Credentials Held by Adults Without College Degrees
Date: March 2018
In an effort to capture the credentials attained by adults who have not earned a postsecondary degree, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) conducted the Adult Training and Education Survey (ATES). The ATES survey focused on subbaccalaureate certifications, trainings, licenses, and other non-degree credentialing attained by adults no longer enrolled in high school. Specifically, the survey defined postsecondary certificate as one obtained after high school from a community or technical college that required a minimum of 40 hours of instruction, without the requirement of a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Administered to a nationally representative sample of 47,000+ adults ranging from ages 16 to 65, the survey discovered the following:
- 58 percent of the labor force has some type of credentialing beyond high school. This directly parallels the stark 55 percent statistic with no postsecondary degree when other certifications are not considered.
- 18 percent of adults surveyed earned both a degree and non-degree credential
- 13 percent of current labor force adults do not have a postsecondary degree but have earned a non-degree credential.
- Of those 13 percent, the most common credential held is a license while the least common is a certification.
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