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Occupational Requirements Survey

Minimum formal education

View PDF version of factsheet here

The Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) publishes job-related information on physical demands; environmental conditions; education, training, and experience; as well as cognitive and mental requirements. The job requirements reflect those necessary for workers to perform critical tasks in support of the critical job functions. For the purposes of the ORS, the formal minimum education necessary to perform a job is the requirement measured, not the educational attainment of individual workers. For example, a job may require a bachelor’s degree, but workers performing the job may have higher degrees such as Ph.D. The estimates reflect the job requirement of a bachelor’s degree.

Minimum formal education requirements are one of four components used to calculate an occupation’s specific vocational preparation, or SVP. The SVP is determined by the amount of preparation time required by the job and includes credentials, prior work experience, minimum formal education requirements, and on-the-job training.

The minimum formal education requirements and the vocational time included in the SVP are shown below:[1]

Table 1. Minimum formal education requirements
Minimum education requirement Vocational time included in SVP [1]

No formal education required

None

High school

None

Vocational high school

2 years

Associate's

1 year

Vocational associate's

2 years

Bachelor's

2-3 years

Master's

All post graduate years (usually 1-2 years) plus 2 years of bachelor's

Professional

All post graduate years (usually 2-4 years) plus 2 years of bachelor's

Doctorate

6 years (4 years post-graduate plus 2 years of bachelor's)

Footnotes:

(1) See the ORS Collection Manual for more detail regarding vocational time included in SVP for minimum education requirements

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Requirements Survey

As shown in Table 1, the time required to complete incidental degrees is included in each education requirement. For example, if a job requires a master’s degree, workers would have incidentally obtained a bachelor’s degree. In this example, SVP would include both the time required to complete a master’s degree as well as the time required to complete a bachelor’s degree.

Minimum formal education estimates only include the degree requirement and not incidental degrees. So, when a job requires a master’s degree, it is only reflected in the master’s degree requirement and not in the lower degree requirements. In 2020, 29.7 percent of civilian workers had no minimum education requirement and 40.4 percent required a high school diploma. (See Chart A.)

Chart A. Percentage of civilian workers by minimum education requirement, 2020

Chart A data table
Chart A. Percentage of civilian workers by minimum education requirement, 2020
Minimum education requirement Estimate

No minimum education

29.7%

High school

40.4%

Associate's

4.3%

Associate's vocational

2.3%

Bachelor's

18.5%

Master's

2.6%

Professional

1.4%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Requirements Survey

Not all minimum formal education requirements will be published for each occupation. While civilian workers and occupational groups may include workers in most education levels, at the detailed occupations fewer education levels may be published either because there are no workers with that job requirement or the estimate fails publication criteria.

Sometimes, information about the distribution of minimum education requirements can be understood even when certain requirements are not published. For example, cashiers only had two publishable estimates: 81.4 percent of workers have no minimum education requirement and 18.6 percent require a high school diploma. They both summed to 100 percent, thus conveyed why there are no other estimates available for this occupation. (See Chart B.)

Chart B. Percentage of workers by minimum education requirement, 2020

Chart B data table
Chart B data table: Percentage of civilian workers by occupation and type of formal education requirement, 2020
Occupation No formal education High school Associate's Bachelor's Master's

Dishwashers

90.8% 9.2% - - -

Cashiers

81.4% 18.6% - - -

Waiters and waitresses

79.8% 20.2% - - -

Stockers and order fillers

74.9% 25.1% - - -

Maids and housekeeping cleaners

72.4% 27.6% - - -

Construction laborers

66.8% 33.2% - - -

Team assemblers

39.7% 60.3% - - -

First-line supervisors of retail sales workers

21.7% 69.8% - 7.5% -

Office clerks, general

24.7% 65.8% 6.9% 2.5% -

Payroll and timekeeping clerks

6.1% 72.6% 10.5% 10.4% -

Network and computer systems administrators

- 18.3% 11.0% 68.8% -

Human resources managers

- 10.3% - 81.0% 7.7%

Occupational therapists

- - - 28.0% 70.3%

Speech-language pathologists

- - - 16.4% 83.6%

Note: Dash indicates no workers in this category or data did not meet publication criteria.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Requirements Survey

When a job has no minimum education requirement, the ORS publishes whether that job requires literacy. The estimates for literacy required and not required sum to the percentage of the no minimum education requirement. For example, 90.8 percent of dishwashers had no minimum formal education requirement in 2020. Of these workers, literacy was required for 55.4 percent and not required for 35.4 percent. (See Chart C.)

Chart C. Percentage of workers by literacy requirement, 2020

Chart C data table
Chart C. Percentage of workers by literacy requirement, 2020
Occupation No minimum formal education Literacy required Literacy not required

Construction laborers

66.8% 48.3% 18.5%

Maids and housekeeping cleaners

72.4% 53.6% 18.8%

Packers and packagers, hand

76.8% 64.9% 11.9%

Dishwashers

90.8% 55.4% 35.4%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Requirements Survey

Additional resources:

Articles:

For additional information on occupational requirements see the ORS homepage or download the ORS complete dataset to explore the latest estimates.


[1] For more information see the ORS Collection Manual.