‘I’m too educated for my job’

Nineteen percent of U.S. workers say they’re overeducated for their jobs, notes Jordan Weissmann in The Atlantic. That’s below the average in developed countries, according to an OECD report. In Japan and the UK, 30 percent say they’re overeducated. Italy is the lowest at 13 percent.

However, the report concludes that “most workers who claim to be overqualified for their jobs are probably well suited for them” in terms of their literacy skills, Weissmann points out.

About Joanne


  1. Michael E. Lopez says:

    There is no such thing as “too educated” for a job, except maybe at the extremes where your cultivated thoughtfulness and analyticity affirmatively interferes with your ability to do your job properly.

    What these people really mean is that they think that they deserve a better-paying/less arduous/more pleasant/higher status job solely in virtue of their education.

    Which is, pardon my language, bull$#!+. Education is just education. It is not an indication of social worth.

    • Mark Roulo says:

      They also may mean that they spent a lot more money for their education given the economic return they got from said education …


  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    I suppose you could wonder about the usefulness of the required courses–back in the day, Humanities, Social Science, American Thought and Language, Natural Science, all designed to give a polish to those not planning to major or minor in those fields.–in whatever job you have. In fact, if you have a job in a field not related to your major, you may feel overqualified. Or miseducated.

  3. Crimson Wife says:

    Most of my post-college jobs “required” a bachelor’s degree but really didn’t. I could’ve done them straight out of high school had someone been willing to hire me for them.

    The problem is that a high school diploma has been rendered virtually meaningless because so many of them don’t represent mastery of 12th grade literacy & numeracy skills.

    I worry that the bachelor’s degree is starting to go the same way with the rise of online for-profit schools that are essentially nothing more than diploma mills.

    • It’s not just the online for-profits, it’s too many “regular” colleges as well. They take in seriously unprepared kids and water down the courses and requirements.

      • Sorry – hit “post” accidentally. Such colleges/programs produce “graduates” that many not even have real HS grad abilities and knowledge. There’s also the problem that employers can no longer give general aptitude tests – indicating sufficient ability to be able to be trained for open positions – some thanks to the USSC’s Duke Power decision. Credentialism

        • Roger Sweeny says:

          Griggs v. Duke Power was decided in 1971. It was interpreting the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Congress could change the law at any time to allow aptitude tests. That it hasn’t is the fault of the two parties–and us voters.

    • Stacy in NJ says:

      Oh, CW – you should have been worrying all along about the quality of those bachelors. Third-rate state and private schools have been handing out degrees for two decades.

  4. Roger Sweeny says:

    Most people go to college because they have been told that they need to in order to get a good job. They then find that most of the courses they took are no help in the jobs that they actually get.

    Yet they leave school with literacy skills so low that it holds them back.

    That’s the tragedy of America education. Its products are overeducated AND undereducated.

    • Actually, the bachelor’s degree has become the most OVERRATED product in america according to Marty Nemko, and I’m in agreement with this fact.

      The catchphrase “college graduates will earn a million dollars more in their lifetimes than a high school graduate’ is an outright lie, it’s actually more like 400 thousand, current economy not factored in.

      Of course, when manufacturers in Washington state can’t hire high school graduates to work in their companies due to the fact that 9 of every 10 of them can’t handle basic math, I shudder to think how much better the typical college graduate could do.


      • Michael E. Lopez says:

        If it’s really only $400,000, then someone should sit down and do a present value analysis to see if College (with its average debt loans and early-placed opportunity cost) is an average loss over time.

        • Michael: I dug into that claim some years ago when I first started teaching – stole a flyer from the guidance people; tracked down the data and assumptions they were using.

          The million claim WAS a present value analysis; BUT the discount rate used was the 30 year T-Bill rate. I couldn’t find a loan program with a rate that low. That was just one way in which the number was bogus.

        • Yes, $400K is the more accurate estimate. That includes opportunity costs of spending four years in college, debt, etc. Of course, it averages in sociology majors and engineering majors, who will have very different careers.

          • Roger Sweeny says:

            Perhaps more important, it averages in college graduates who are smart, hard-working, and ambitious with college graduates who aren’t very smart, hard-working, or ambitious. The first group will out-earn high school graduates by a lot more than $400,000. The second group will out-earn high school graduates by a lot less than $400,000.

          • Stacy in NJ says:

            Roger has it right. correlation or causation. Is a college degree causation or does it merely correlate?