The Jobs Situation Is Critical: Do You Need a College Degree to Wait Tables?

January 29, 2013  |  


The answer to this question is no. I’d dare to say you don’t need a college degree to wait tables, deliver pizzas, mop floors or answer phones. However, according to CNN and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, college graduates of various backgrounds are finding themselves working all sorts of gigs just to make ends meet.

Underemployment has plagued the US over the past few years and although the unemployment rate is getting better the underemployment rate seems to be getting worse. We hear about the US unemployment rate of around eight percent (for the end of 2012), and don’t highlight the number of underemployed working jobs that in no way relate to what they have studied in college and have racked up debt for.

To put things in perspective, BLS data says about 15 percent or more taxi drivers have a college degree compared to one percent in the 1970s. They have also documented that 1 in 6 bartenders, 1 in 5 telemarketers, and 1 in 4 retail workers have a college degree in their back pocket.

A study released by The Center for College Affordability and Productivity says that about 37 percent of employed U.S. college graduates are working jobs that require no more than a high school diploma. Yes, you read that correctly!

After, going through undergraduate school and/or graduate school we all walk across the stage on commencement day with thoughts of a bright future and a great job. But given this economy, it might take a little longer to get to the higher rungs on that ladder.

We discussed the issue of colleges meeting the needs of an evolved student body and the modern day jobs landscape. Students should also take time to think about the career path they’d like to take and how best to craft an educational experience that will get them there.

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  • Michiko

    People are underemployed because employers are now asking for a BA degree with 3 -5 years of experience for positions that are supposed to be entry level while paying a starting wage of $10.00 an hour. Employers don’t want to train people. Then there are the people who are stuck in the middle of the job market where they are too skilled for low skilled jobs, but don’t have enough skill for high skilled jobs.

  • Nicole

    This article is true. There are many college graduates (me
    included) who have our bachelor degrees and are still working jobs that requires
    just a high school diploma or some experience. A lot of the jobs that I see
    that require bachelor degrees also want you to have 5 years of experience or be
    certified/ licensed. If I just graduated from college, how am I supposed to
    have 5 years of experience? This just happened in the last 5 or 6 years, where
    it seems many entry level jobs have disappeared. It used to be easy to get
    retail and customer service jobs, but now they want you to have years of
    experience. I know 4 different women with bachelor degrees who have considered
    going into or enlisted in the military in order to find a job and pay back
    their college loans. I am hoping to enroll in a master’s program this fall. It
    seems like the best way to compete in the job market and receive a decent

    • Kenedy

      Im in the exact same position. I make $7.25/hr after 4 yrs of busting my behind. My plan was to go to graduate later in a few years, but im gonna go back this fall, its not like im doing anything productive. But after graduate school if i STILL can’t find a decent job…i will not hesitate to move to a different country and i WILL NOT pay back my student loans…that’ll be my way of sticking it to the system

      • KamJos

        Really do the research about the job prospects of your field after graduate school. For example, graduate students in fields like History have it VERY hard because the field is graduating more PhDs than there are jobs. Some are having to work as adjuncts which pay about 2,000 per class per semester. Even if a person taught 4 history classes they’d only make about 8k a semester. Not want you want to do when you have a PhD and need to pay of student loans.

  • Neu Jeru Jay

    I just love job postings that require BAs for jobs that don’t really need them. For example, I saw a posting for a receptionist/ administrative assistant, and the pay $13 an hour. Are you kidding me!?! You want me to spend damn near the cost of a house, to make a wage that will put me damn near the povery level? Come on son!!

    • Nicole

      I agree! It’s like companies don’t respect a BA anymore. They want to pay everyone barely above minimum wage even though the cost of living is increasing every day.

      • JaeBee

        The problem is that the market is over-saturated with liberal arts bachelors degrees. They are a dime a dozen. Companies don’t have to respect the BA anymore when they know that there are not enough jobs to accomodate the new batch of graduates who will NEED to find work after graduation and will accept dayum near anything to be able to start paying back their loans.

  • SunshineBlossom

    Apparently mastering the sociological constructs affecting psychological choices of black women (Psychology 50) is what’s required to dip a fry basket in oil these days…