To learn more about how satisfied employed adults are with their careers, University of Phoenix commissioned a 2017 survey, surveying 1,019 Americans in the workforce.

The survey showed that the majority of respondents feel stalled in some aspect of their current career. It also shed light on additional concerns of today’s working adults, such as how effectively their skills are being used by their employers. Less than half of respondents feel they are fairly compensated for the work they do, with more than a third (38 percent) believing they are undercompensated.

About a third of respondents report being ‘very satisfied’ with their current position, with even fewer saying the same for their career path. 

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With about one-third of our adult workforce responding that they are ‘very satisfied’ with their position and career path, it makes sense that a similar amount plan to enroll in a continuing education program at some point.

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Only 41 percent of respondents said they are very satisfied with their level of education, and the majority believe that earning the next level of degree would improve their career satisfaction. Over half of respondents also believe they would see a rise in salary if they were to continue their education. 

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Additional Findings

  • 43 percent of respondents are ‘very satisfied’ with how their skills and abilities are being utilized by their employers
  • 46 percent report being fairly compensated for the work they do, with 38 percent responding that they are undercompensated
  • Nearly one-third (31 percent) of respondents have not received a college degree
  • Over half (54 percent) of working adults have already enrolled or plan to enroll in school to continue their education at some point
  • The majority say they are driven to pursue higher education because it would have a major or moderate impact on their ability to increase their earning potential (87 percent), obtain a promotion (84 percent) or get a better job (85 percent)
  • 20 percent of working adults report being "not very" or "not at all" satisfied with their career path


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix between May 8-23, 2017, among 1,019 U.S. adults aged 18 and older. Figures for age, race/ethnicity, education, region, and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.