Are You Using Your Degree?

Hi, Dopers–long-time lurker, first-time poster here.

I’ve been wondering lately how many folks are working in the same field in which they received their academic degree. For instance, I have a degree in journalism, and for first five years or so after graduation, I wrote for newspapers and magazines. In the years since that period, though (about 10), I’ve moved somewhat away from journalism as a career, although my last two jobs (communications for non-profit organizations) have involved a lot of writing and I certainly still consult the AP Style Manual. I’d say I’m still using my degree, I guess.

How many Dopers are using their degrees in their current jobs? It’d be interesting to note how long it’s been since you’ve graduated, and perhaps how many distinct “careers” you’ve had since then.


Yes, somewhat. I have a B.S. in zoology and an M.S. in marine biology. I wish I could tell you about the fabulous marine biology research and exciting field missions I was going on, but my career did not go in that direction.

I am working as a biologist, but for the Federal government doing NEPA compliance and endangered species consultations. Other environmental work as well (wetlands, aquatic resources, land use, etc.). I do a lot of writing (I like it and I am good at it). I guess you could say that I am a “desk biologist.”

Last year my former major professor called me up to do a research mission with his lab team. So, I took some leave from my job and soent 2 weeks research diving off Key Largo. That really hit the spot! I also angle it so that I get assigned projects with a marine biology component as much as possible.

I like my job very much. I get to travel a lot, all over the U.S. Plus the pay and benefits are top-notch.

not in the least

I got a BS in Theatre Arts (I would have gotten a BFA, but they’d just instated it my senior year and I didn’t have a chance to rearrange classes to get the right number and type of credits in. I wish I could have stayed a 5th year)

I’ve dome some community theatre since college, and I sing with a chorus. But there is no call for my theatrical talents in my current position of employ

Yes and sorta. I spent my 20s in the private sector, owning and operating several businesses. When I went back to finish my degree, I went for whatever I had the most units in. So I ended up with a Social Sciences BA (Anthropology major, with dual minors in Sociology and European History.) I am a high school teacher, teaching AP Euro, Govt./Econ., and Forensics. I got my BA in 1986.

Actually, yes. I use my English degree in my tutoring job. You may not see it in the way I write, but when teaching kids parts of speech, or talking about literature it can become somewhat apparent.

I love substitute teaching for English classes in middle school- it is what made me want to be a Middle school English teacher.

Both of my current jobs require a degree, and my degree is particularly useful for both. I like to think that while I don’t earn much, getting hired for both jobs definitely validated the effort of completing college :smiley:

Computer Science PhD in 1980, in the Computer Architecture area. I’ve been working on tools for IC design, which is a bit more EE, but for the most part I’m definitely using my degree.

I’ve worked for only 3 companies since I graduated, but I think you could say I’ve only had one career, though I’ve wandered around within it.

My wife, on the other hand, has an MS in Biology. She dropped out of the PhD program when she discovered she hated lab work. She did quality control for a cannery right out of school, and taught some, but started writing toy reviews and parenting articles, and now does medical writing and some writing for junior high school kids full time. Her degree is very useful in getting and doing her medical writing jobs, so I guess you can say she’s using it, but she’s in no sense doing biology.

I have an English degree but play banjo & bass professionally, so…not in the slightest.

Yup. Degree in Theatre, with a design/tech emphasis, and that’s what I do. A little lighting design here and there, and lots of full time tech work.

I focused hard to get into a Ph.D. program in behavioral neuroscience/psychopharmacology but then discovered I only liked to learn about it. I didn’t like the slow, monotaneous grind of working in a lab.

I because a systems analyst and moved into consulting at the intersection of IT and business. My job requires lots of brainpower and I get to solve lots of really hard problems of all types.

It isn’t so much that my degree helped me in these jobs, it is that the skill crossover is higher than you may guess.

I got a BS in Computer Science in 1980. I worked as a programmer/analyst for 8 years, then as an IT manager for 11 years. Since 1999, I’ve been a director where I have much wider responsibility but IT is still one of the areas I am responsible for. I work for a diversified telecommunications company, so really all areas of the company deal with my major in this era of convergence of the networks. So yes, I’m still working in the field of my major.

Yep, Have a BA with majors in History and Economics and a higher diploma in Education and have been teaching History for the past 8 years. I have a friend though who has a BSocSci who stacks shelves for a living (or something to that effect). So I guess that would be a no in her case.


I have a Ph.D. in sociology of religion, and work as a puzzle editor. I’m currently looking for a new job, most likely staying in editing/writing/publishing of some sort.

Am I “using” my degree?

Well, I’ve used the education that came with my bachelor of fine arts degree every day since the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin handed it to me 23 years ago, to keep from going nuts at the mind-numbing jobs that were actually hiring.

Sort of. Not my BA, which is in German Area Studies (as opposed to German Lit–language, history, culture, etc), but I use my JD as an editor of law books. I like the academic rather than the practice aspect of the law.I went straight into legal publishing from law school.

Yep. Degree in accounting and I’m a financial analyst.

Degree in Radio/TV broadcasting and I work in broadcasting.

Definitely using my law degree. My anthropology/psychology BA…well, I guess it depends on how broadly you define “using.”

Yep. I have a degree in English. I’m currently working as a writer in the marketing department of a community college.

I used my degree in all my previous jobs, too: financial services marketing/communications, non-profit fundraising/communications, newspaper reporter.

Well, I don’t actually have a degree. I took a one year mechanical drafting course and graduated in January 1980. I’m a mechanical designer now, working with 3D software creating models and drawings. Drafting has come a long way in 26 years!

I love what I do.

Well, I only have an associate’s in Liberal Arts & Sciences but I don’t think I’m using my degree. At least, not what I took classes in…I am using more the communication and people skills, analytical problem solving and planning skills that I obtained in college.

By the way, welcome to the board! :slight_smile: