Labor Force Participation Rates are Higher for People with Professional Certifications or Licenses

Labor force participation rates are substantially higher for people who have a professional certification or occupational license than for those without such credentials. In 2018, the rate was 87.7 percent for workers who had such credentials, compared with 57.8 percent for those without them. In addition, people with certifications or licenses had higher participation rates at all education levels.

Labor force participation rates of people 25 years and older, by professional certification and licensing status and educational attainment, 2018 With a certification or license Without a certification or license Less than a high school diploma High school graduates, no college Some college,no degree Associate degree Bachelor’s degree only Advanced degree.

For example, among workers with a certification or license in 2018, labor force participation rates ranged from 84.8 percent for those with less than a high school diploma to 88.5 percent for those with a bachelor’s degree (and no further education). By contrast, the rates for people without a certification or license ranged from 44.4 percent for those with less than a high school diploma to 68.8 percent for those with a bachelor’s degree only.

These data are from the Current Population Survey and are annual averages for 2018. For more information, see “Professional certifications and occupational licenses: evidence from the Current Population Survey,” by Evan Cunningham, Monthly Labor Review, June 2019.

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