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New University of Phoenix Study Shows Majority of Working Adults in America See Higher Education As Route to Greater Career Satisfaction

By University of Phoenix

PHOENIX, Aug. 14, 2017 – Recently released findings from a University of Phoenix® survey show that only 38 percent of U.S. working adults are very satisfied with their current professional position, and 37 percent report they are very satisfied with their current career path. The online survey conducted in May 2017 among over 1,000 U.S. adults employed for 20 hours or more a week, also shed light on additional concerns of today’s working adults, like the fact that less than half (43 percent) are very satisfied with how their skills and abilities are being utilized by their employers, and 46 percent say they are fairly compensated for the work they do. In fact, more than one-third (38 percent) feel that they are undercompensated.

With signs of a slowly strengthening economy growing in frequency each month, Americans are eager to explore how they can take advantage of greater opportunities. The unemployment rate is low, job growth has continued at a steady pace1, and, as the University of Phoenix survey reveals, Americans are thinking more and more about how they can pursue professional development and open doors to satisfying career options.

The survey data includes the revelation that only about two in five (41 percent) working adults are very satisfied with their current level of education. Additionally, nearly one-third (31 percent) have not received a college degree. Not only that—substantial numbers believe that education could be the key to taking the next step in their career. Nearly two in three (65 percent) working Americans anticipate their current salary would increase if they were to achieve the next level of education, while about three in four (72 percent) say this achievement would have an impact on their career satisfaction.

“As economic conditions continue to improve and job opportunities increase, it’s no surprise that Americans are taking notice and thinking more about how they can make headway in their careers,” said Peter Cohen, president, University of Phoenix. “The road to recovery from a rougher job market has been long and challenging, but workers are now in a position to seek to enhance their careers or even seek new careers altogether by strengthening and adding to their skills through education. And at University of Phoenix, we are keenly attuned to the workforce trends driving our economy, and we are committed to offering professional development opportunities that help students meet market needs.”

For many, these feelings are being translated into action. For example, more than half (54 percent) of working adults have already enrolled or plan to enroll in school to continue their education at some point. Overwhelming majorities say that they are driven to pursue higher education because they believe 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). The motivation is not purely financial, either; majorities also say that challenging themselves, learning new things, and investing in themselves are also influences in their decision.

“It’s encouraging to see that working adults are interested in pursuing higher education to enhance their career options, and that many of them are making plans to make that a reality,” Cohen said. “But we should also pay particular attention to those who say they’re interested in pursuing additional education, but feel their work schedule makes it impossible. At University of Phoenix, we pride ourselves on offering a variety of both in-classroom and online learning options to help address these challenges. Anyone who is dedicated to professional development should be able to build and educational schedule that works for them, regardless of their other life commitments.”


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 who are employed at least 20 hour or more a week.. 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.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help working adults move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. As a subsidiary of Apollo Education Group, Inc., University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit