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Formal education requirements are gradually disappearing from job postings as more employers are leaning into “skills first” hiring practices, according to a new report from Indeed’s Hiring Lab. 

The report, released Feb. 27, found employers are loosening their formal education requirements as the labor market remains tight and as attitudes toward skills-first hiring practices change. Those same employers seem more willing to consider candidates who can demonstrate the required skills without necessarily having a degree.  

Key findings include: 

  • A majority (52%) of US job postings on Indeed did not mention any formal education requirement as of January 2024, up from 48% at the same time in 2019.  
  • The share of US job postings requiring at least a college degree fell from 20.4% to 17.8% in the last five years, opening opportunities for the 64% of U.S. adults without a bachelor’s degree. 
  • Formal educational requirements are declining in nearly every sector, and mentions of college degrees have fallen since 2019 in 87% of occupational groups analyzed by Indeed. 

“Formal educational requirements are unlikely to disappear entirely from job postings, especially in areas like healthcare and engineering that require a good deal of post-secondary knowledge and skills,” wrote the report’s author, Cory Stahle, an economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab. 

“However, a shrinking pool of job postings requiring applicants to first hold a formal degree as an employment condition represents a major opportunity for the roughly two-thirds of Americans without a four-year degree,” Stahle said. 

Historically, employers have used the earning of an academic degree as a measure of an applicant’s skills and ability to do the job at hand. However, developments in software as a service (SaaS) technologies and pre-employment testing have helped give employers the tools they need to adopt skills-first hiring approaches and expand their candidate pools beyond the limited number of Americans with college degrees, the report said.