EdX Survey Finds that about 1/3 of Americans ages 25 – 44 have Completely Changed Fields Since Starting their First Job Post-College

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


EdX Survey Finds that about 1/3 of Americans ages 25 – 44 have Completely Changed Fields Since Starting their First Job Post-College  

Results Uncover Strong Appetite for Career Shifts, Need for Continuous Education


Cambridge, MA – July 10, 2018 –  EdX.org, the leading nonprofit online learning destination founded by Harvard and MIT, today announced the results of a survey of 1,000 consumers ages 25 – 44 around trends related to career transformations. The survey found that 32 percent of respondents have considered making a career change at some point within the past year, and 29 percent of respondents have completely changed fields since starting their first job post college. The chief drivers of these continuous shifts are a desire for salary increase (39 percent) or interest in another field (21 percent). EdX commissioned the survey in order to further identify the types of challenges faced by learners, specifically as they look to change industries, in an effort to provide optimized access to quality, career-relevant education to all.

The workplace is changing more rapidly than ever before and employers are in need of highly-skilled talent, especially in fields most impacted by fast developing and in-demand technology, such as automation, artificial intelligence and big data. Faced with this ever-changing workplace, candidates seeking to change or advance their careers are tasked with gaining the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. In addition, many of these in-demand fields are so newly emerging that they do not map back to traditional fields of study - according to edX’s survey findings, only a fifth of respondents consider their education from their college major to be translatable to their current field.

However, the findings also indicate that just over a quarter of respondents have turned to advanced education to assist with a potential career change. This disconnect between employees recognizing that they need to refresh their education yet not following through on doing so, is likely due to perceived barriers that do not allow for flexible or affordable opportunities to gain advanced knowledge. For example, the survey identified time and money as key blockers to pursuing educational opportunities:

  • Time - 60 percent of survey respondents consider time a barrier to gaining knowledge/skills to enhance their current career or enable them to switch careers.
  • Money - 62 percent of survey respondents consider money a barrier to gaining knowledge/skills to enhance their current career or enable them to switch careers.

Anant Agarwal, edX CEO and MIT professor, said, “At edX we are deeply committed to understanding the barriers that learners face when looking to advance or change their careers – and we work with our partners to develop modular and flexible learning pathways that address those impediments. Offerings such as the MicroMasters ® programs empower learners to gain deep knowledge in an in-demand field, allowing them to shift careers or pursue a pathway to an accelerated on-campus degree.”

MicroMasters programs, a new category of Master’s-level online education bridge the knowledge gap between higher education and the workplace. MicroMasters programs are part of edX’s mission to expand access to high-quality, career-relevant education. With subjects ranging from artificial intelligence to project management and supply chain management, MicroMasters programs are offered by edX in connection with its esteemed edX university partners, valued by top companies and linked to specific career outcomes.

For more survey results click here, and for more information about the MicroMasters program click here.

About the Survey
Using Google Consumer Surveys, edX surveyed over 1000 employed consumers on questions related to their careers. All respondents were located in the United States. The survey was conducted in April 2018.

About edX.org
EdX is a nonprofit, open-source learning destination offering online educational programs and courses at edx.org in alliance with more than 130 member institutions, composed of both leading global universities and colleges, and a diverse group of prominent organizations from around the world. Founded by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and based in Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., edX is focused on transforming online and classroom learning through groundbreaking methodologies, game-like educational experiences and cutting-edge research on an open-source platform.