1 in 3 companies are ditching college degree requirements for salaried jobs

It’s becoming easier to get a corporate job without a college degree: 1 in 3 companies say they no longer list educational requirements on their salaried job postings, according to Payscale’s latest compensation best practices report.

Still, it’s most common for companies, 41%, to say college degree requirements depend on the job, while a minority, 22%, say all of their jobs have a degree as a requirement. Payscale’s analysis surveyed more than 5,700 business leaders and HR pros in late 2023.

As companies deprioritize college degree requirements, they’re turning their attention to hiring candidates with the right skillsets, Ruth Thomas, a pay equity strategist with PayScale, said during a briefing with reporters.

The move could benefit the roughly 62% of U.S. workers who don’t have a degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

While no-degree hiring doesn’t apply to jobs that never require a degree or professions like doctors or lawyers, it could have a big impact on hiring for middle-tier jobs like construction managers, sales supervisors, web developers, cybersecurity and IT help desk specialists, CNBC reports.

Walmart, the country’s largest private employer, is one company that stands out for its broad efforts to remove education requirements on jobs. The company with 1.6 million employees said it was “rewriting job descriptions for our campus (headquarters) jobs to factor in the skills people possess, alongside any degrees they hold,” in a corporate blog post in late September. “To be considered for the job, you can have a related college degree or possess the skills needed for the job, whether through previous experience or other forms of learning.”

Other major employers, particularly in tech, have moved toward skills-based hiring in recent years, including Google, IBM, Tesla, GM, and Accenture.

However, removing education requirements doesn’t automatically lead to more equitable hiring among people without degrees. Recent research from Burning Glass Institute and Harvard Business School shows candidates without degrees aren’t getting as many good job offers as those with degrees.

“Unfortunately, what we found is for the most part, employers are still hiring the same people they were before,” Matt Sigelman, president of the Burning Glass Institute, told CNBC.

“Many organizations still have a lot left to do in terms of categorizing skills in their organizations so that we can develop full end-to-end skills-based pay strategies,” Thomas says.

Overall, business leaders say compensation is their top challenge of 2024, with half saying it’s a high-priority investment area in the coming year, closely followed by recruitment and retention.

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